Welcome back friends! Thank you for joining me here on The Distillery Podcast.
At the beginning of last episode which was focused on coaching I asked if you’ve been in a situation of talking with a friend and receiving advice or empathy, and ultimately feeling frustrated knowing your friend meant well yet wasn’t very helpful…
Today we’re focusing on a piece of the overall focus last week, the power of questions. Questions are one of the most potent tools in a coach’s toolbox. And to begin looking at how powerful questions can be we’re going to look at that same scenario and flip it around. We’ve all experienced someone trying, and failing, to be helpful AND we’ve probably all been that friend as well; trying to be helpful, offering advice or just being sympathetic within a conversation and failing to give the other person what they really need. Truthfully, it’s what most of us are taught and know how to do! Sometimes some advice or a listening ear is exactly what the other person was looking for, yet, there are also times when something different is needed.
Listening, giving some advice, sharing a story, being empathetic, those are the most common tools most of us have in our toolbox. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Questions, again, are one of the most potent tools in a coach’s toolbox. You can benefit from the idea, philosophy, of coaching even if you’re not in a spot to engage a coach right now by focusing on the power of questions and learning to ask questions of yourself and other people. This will certainly open up to you some of the benefits you’d expect to receive from working with a coach.
Coaching is wonderful, I made that pretty clear last episode. And coaching is only one type of relationship and not everyone will be in a place to engage in a coaching relationship. While that would be wonderful, that’s ok! You can still benefit from the concept of coaching, as I mentioned last episode, simply by leaning into the power of questions. Being asked questions that perhaps no one else is asking you is one of the key things that can help you discover new insights, help you understand more deeply what’s going on within yourself or gain a different perspective on a situation so you can address it in a new way and move forward.
What do I mean when I say lean into the power of questions? Learn to ask yourself and others probing questions. Don’t settle for the quick answer from yourself or another person, dig deeper into what’s going on behind the words. Learning to ask powerful, probing, questions, to ask and really listen to the answer as a coach will do, is a wonderful skill that will help you be a better listener, help you show up more effectively within all the roles you live into whether that’s a manager, friend, parent, spouse, etc.
When talking about the power of questions it’s important to mention a possible counter point. We’ve all probably had the experience where someone asked a question but was really making a statement or trying to prove a point. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and clearly that’s not the kind of questions I’m talking about here.
Good, powerful questions probe deeper, they seek more knowledge. They come out of an openness to learn or discover new insights. They doin’t need to be long or complicated. They simply need to inquire deeper and ask for responses beyond “yes” “no” or other single word answers.
When I’m talking about coaching, consulting, asking questions, I like to talk about this concept of trying to listen “between the lines.” Which means listening to what’s being said, how it’s being said, what’s not being said, etc. and then asking questions to get deeper into those unexplored, unarticulated places.
Questions become powerful when they elicit thoughtfulness and reflection. That’s what happens when you’re asked a question that really makes you think. That you can’t answer off the top of your head. And that’s when learning happens and new insights are found.
Learning to ask these kinds of questions is as simple as practice! The same as with any new skill.
Pay attention to the responses you get when you ask someone a question. If you get a single word answer or quick response think of another way to ask the question that will require a fuller response. Or think of a related question that pushes deeper than the response you got. When you’re in a conversation try to catch yourself at a point when you’d normally make a statement, offer a suggestion or share an empathetic response and instead ask a question.
Before wrapping up today’s episode I want to give you another heads up for what’s quickly heading our way this summer, SWAP 15 (I think that’s what I’m going to call it…)
You want to live a life you’re proud of, yet are you confident that you know what that means, what that looks like for YOU? Sometimes it’s hard to know, hard to be certain, isn’t it?
That’s why I’m inviting you to join me in a Summer With A Purpose; the SWAP 15.
In only 15 active minute a week you’ll be able to clarify what it means, what it looks like for you to live a life you’re proud of. Next week we’ll talk more about what that will look like, so for now know it’s coming and get excited! 🙂
End of episode coaching question:
What potential benefits can you see from growing your ability to ask yourself and others powerful questions?
What’s one thing you can do to practice your question asking skills this week?