Knowing the answers will help you in school. Knowing how to question will help you in life. —Warren Berger
How often do you say “Hello” to someone and they reply with “Good thanks” even though you haven’t actually asked them how they are? Yes, I’m as guilty as charged, we’ve all responded like this at some stage, and this reflection is a great example that as life gets busier and more congested, our brains are wired to think and be more than one step ahead of the conversation.
We speak at 125 words per minute, but we think at 400 words per minute!
How often are you thinking of your opinion on what someone is telling you while at the same time subconsciously planning your next question?
When running communication workshops or speaking on this topic, I always reinforce that we should only ask one question at a time. How often do you hear: “How was your weekend? Wasn’t the weather great? Did you go out for brunch? The recipient of these questions will only reply to the last question as you have simply loaded the questions with your intent and what you want to talk about, in this case, being brunch.
Ask one question at a time, as soon as you visually picture a question mark, zip it and be present and listen.
When in the zone of coaching, you need to be present and not give in and give the answer. This is one of the most challenging aspects of coaching as we naturally want to help and have sometimes created the expectation that we will always provide the answer or solution.
When a coachee becomes stuck, we want to jump in. Instead, ask a quality open question and instead of thinking what to say or ask next…. slow down and simply wait and listen to the response you get and shape your next question based on this. Frame your questions as open ones. This type of questioning elicits information, not a yes or no answer and gets the other person talking. This questioning technique is great if you are conversing with someone who is quite and who replies with one-word answers. By framing your questions based on the coachee’s response, it shows you have listened (a rare skill these days) and also makes the coachee feel important, which in turn builds subliminal rapport.
Listening skills and being an effective communicator are two imperative skills you need to master as a Leader.
You need to be open in identifying the beliefs that your coachees carry with them. A belief is a feeling of certainty about what something means to someone. We all have empowering beliefs and what we call limiting beliefs. The limiting beliefs are the ones, as a coach, you need to watch out for and challenge. Every moment we have over two million pieces of information coming at us. We form our thoughts, opinions and beliefs based on our own perception, whether we think it’s wrong or right. Beliefs that don’t serve and support our coachee’s outcomes need to be challenged. Simply asking challenging questions around the cost of not changing and what they are losing by not shifting beliefs can assist in getting the coachee to reframe this.
Whether you are leading a team, conversing with clients or internal stakeholders, building your questioning muscle is essential. By asking better quality and more powerful questions that are relevant, you will find you will be speaking less and listening more and therefore empowering others.
Less is more in this case when identifying beliefs.
In a pure coaching sense, we are only asking questions, deep, meaningful questions. There is a plethora of other questioning and communication techniques, start with asking more open questions, one at a time and base the next one on the coachee’s response.
Let silence do the heavy lifting and watch what happens!
To being limitless