Recently I read Michael Bungay Stanier’s “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever“. I learned the 7 Questions To Ask for making a far greater impact.
I feel very fortunate that the universe put this book in my Kindle library. It fits in particularly well with my main interest which is community-based organisations. My reason for saying this is that the diversity of volunteers in community organisations can often be more of a challenge for management, leadership and coaching than in a for-profit organisation.
The questions Michael posits as the basis for coaching are excellent. They shift the focus from the leader to the person being coached or assisted. (I’m not a big fan of the term “follower” but you can use it if you wish.)
So let me review the questions here and add my own thoughts as well. The 7 questions are as follows:-
What’s on your mind?
And what else?
What’s the real challenge here for you?
What do you want?
How can I help?
If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
What was most useful for you?
Be Natural and Conversational
Remember that this is a conversation. It needs to be natural or it will come across as insincere. The person you are speaking with may well become defensive and uncomfortable. So be yourself and make it a conversation and not an interrogation.
Ask All Questions in an Open Manner
Question number 2, “And What Else”, is an excellent example to use in this case. You might conceivably use your own language and say, “Is there anything else?”. The problem here is that someone can simply answer with a simple Yes or No. If they say Yes then you can continue the conversation, but if they say No, then you haven’t dug any further. So, keep an eye on your language so you ask questions that involve a considered response.
Reframe If You Wish
As I mentioned above about being natural and conversational, it can be useful at times to reframe questions. This might be because people may ask you what you mean by a question. Questions 4 and 5 are great examples of some questions that could be reframed to suit the circumstances. “What do you want?” could become, “What result are you looking for here?”, or “What does the solution look like to you?”. “How can I help?” could well become “What does my help look like to you?”. I’m sure you get the idea.
This is without doubt an amazing book with some fantastic insights into conducting a coaching conversation in an impactful manner. Questions and curiosity are paramount in any conversation and we don’t use them often enough. I know it is certainly an issue that I have personally and will be working on from this time forward.
Either way, I recommend you get Michael’s book and read it yourself. As for me, I am now onto his next book, “The Advice Trap”, and I have also pre-ordered his newest book, “How To Begin”.