This week’s guest blogger is Kim Witten who has been helping Claire simplify even more!

Kim writes: “We want our questions to make people think, but about what?

When we ask questions that make people think too hard or about the wrong things, we inadvertently use up their energy for the stuff that matters.

The most common way this happens is by asking complicated questions — ones that require a lot of parsing to make sense of. The result is that the thinker shifts their attention away from the topic and may start thinking things like, “What is my coach getting at?” or “What have I missed here?” or worse, “What’s the correct answer?”

This is why we want to ask shorter questions. Yes, this widens the world of possible interpretations, but in coaching that can only be a good thing. We’re giving thinkers more choices, and we go with whatever they choose.

Alternatively, complex questions can box thinkers in. Questions that are hard to parse may:

  • contain lots of words
  • include an answer in the question
  • have many layers or parts
  • ask more than one thing
  • be ambiguous, abstract, or theoretical
  • be unrealistic or ungrounded in some way
  • ask too much
  • be unanswerable

The impact of this is the thinker has to expend energy and thought into understanding what you mean. And if they can’t readily see it, they search for it.

In short, hard-to-parse questions put the focus on you as the coach and distances the thinker from their stuff.

Aim for saying things that invite people think about their stuff, not about the thing you just said.”

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2024

Feel free to share.  Please include our contact details: 

You can get this as an email every week here!