Category: ICF 06 Powerful Questioning

3D Ideas 855: Catching the Ball

Claire writes: “We have just been camping when there are always ball games to play with our small people.  There is nothing more irritating when you’re playing a game of catch than when the other person doesn’t throw the ball back!  Everyone who is playing is an equal partner in a game of catch.

Although a coaching style is partnership, our role is keeping someone company while they think.  That means we want their processing to be flowing, and we need to ask, or observe only enough to keep them in flow.  Which means that when I keep hold of the process, I am interrupting your flow. Phrases like ‘OK’, ‘Thank you’ may be polite – and they are also saying ‘Stop thinking – it’s my turn now’.  It is more effective to lightly throw the question back with future focussed questions – like so?, and now?

The only exception to this is that there are a few occasions where I need to stop and think and make connections between what I am noticing in service of your thinking.  And they are few and far between!”

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2019

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3D Ideas 843: The Story I’m Making Up

Arcaion / Pixabay

Claire writes: “What a lot of data flies around organisations

  • anecdotal data – what I tell you about someone else which we pretend originally comes from observable data and may not
  • self reported data – what I tell you about myself
  • imagined data – or as Brene Brown says ‘the story I’m making up about this is’
  • real observable data – what was actually seen

Whether we are simply having a conversation, or are interviewing or coaching, we notice how useful it is to be honest about what kind of data we are discussing. ‘What did you see?‘ is a much better question than ‘what do they think?‘ which leads us to assumptions and stories and more…”

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3D Ideas 841: Everything is Disposable

RitaE / Pixabay

Claire writes: “This week in Transforming Conversations we will be exploring the value of changing the medium to have better conversations. Instead of talking through a situation, people will draw it and their colleague will simply notice what they see. I always tell delegates that 80% of what they will notice is useless and 20% is useful. And the the things we notice – without judgement – often transform… when we offer lightly.

Exactly the same learning came when we were learning about presence with Stuart Reid. We spent a whole day doing theatre improvisation. There was so much deep learning (and laughter) that he will be running it again (11th October 2019 in Central London only 12 spaces). In coaching we offer questions. In improv we simply make an offer. And one of the principles of improv is that everything is disposable. 80% goes nowhere. The skill, of course, is to notice quickly and work out what to do next!”

© 2019 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 840: Tennis Ball Machine

Claire writes: “Tennis ball machines, I have seen in films, can serve lots of balls as you practice your return.  

Questions asked at the same pace as a tennis ball machine are quite overwhelming. We often see one question after another launched at the person thinking. The first thing it does is stop them thinking at all.

Great questions have a long life and may need to do their great work before the next question comes along. Slow down.  Say less. And wait until they ask for the next question, with their eyes or their body.”

© 2019 3D Coaching Ltd

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3D Ideas 832: Step Back

Claire writes: “We had our first practicum of 2019 this morning – where we all coach, listen and observe. It’s great learning. Someone was thinking about a situation at work and the coach asked: ‘I wonder how much challenge is comfortable for them?’

Asking ‘how much challenge is comfortable’ sounds like we are asking our colleague to report to us. Changing the question to ‘I wonder…’ is an invitation to step back, together, and see something differently. It worked! In the feedback, the thinker said that this one question would have been enough because that’s where the insight came…without even answering it!

Stepping back and asking people is powerful. It demonstrates the value of partnership in conversations.

© 2019 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas: 823 Managers Say That

Claire writes: ‘If we want to have a different kind of conversation sometimes we need to use different language. I think that’s because we learn how to respond without fully listening. For example many managers say ‘Do you want to explore that?’ when they actually mean tell me. ‘Is it useful to explore that?’ might be a more useful question.

It might be useful to notice in the next couple of days if things don’t land as you expect where you could change the language.’

And if you’ve heard me talk about my dislike of why questions, you might be interested in this blog

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 814: Tone?

Claire writes: “Some of the greatest questions I have heard are one or two words (which came directly from the thinker) asked with a question mark lilt. Sadly they are unusable in any other conversation. And yet they transform everything. Tone matters!

It’s also useful to remember that when someone has an insight, us changing our tone (or pace) a little can also help own that transformation. When we continue to match their tone, they might underplay the moment.”

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 798: Backstitch

Claire writes: “Sewing. As you begin to hand sew and pass a needle through thick fabric, you can never be quite sure where the needle will come up – until you see the point coming through and decide whether to keep pulling it out, or reposition it.

The same is true of questions. We ask them, and they are answered. We can’t be sure what to ask next until we see where the last one gets us. All we do is wait, listen and notice… and only then form the next question. And if there has been a big movement, that might be as simple as ‘Where are we now?'”

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 792: The Least

Claire writes: “A very long time ago, I coached someone who had a tiny notebook and never had more than three things on his list. It’s not often like that. Many people we meet are overwhelmed by tasks and lists and stuff to be done. Which is why I love a question Alan used with me the other day:

What’s the least you need to do to make that happen?

The answer to that has been useful for me – hope it might be useful for you!?”

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 785: Positive signs

Claire writes: “One of the greatest gifts of delivering training is to learn with a group (you know who you are, 7th November!)

Every week we recognise that what we are learning and passing on is truly and deeply simple. Observing today, a couple of delegates looked at me in panic as they we having their first ever coaching style conversation. I asked them: what are you thinking right now?

Performance anxiety seeps in so quickly and I will assume I am stuck because I have made a mistake. All we need to do is turn our anxiety into a question:

  • A thought – I don’t know what to do now… becomes a question “what do we need to do now?” 
  • A thought – I don’t know if we have finished or not… becomes a question “have we finished?”  

And trust what we see. When we think we have seen a not sure look, ask what do we need to do so you’re confident we have finished. Never underestimate the value of moving. Today it was for our trainee to stand next to the thinker and simply ask “what’s the next step?” and move with her as she stepped forward. We all saw her arrive in her new thinking – body mind and spirit.

It really is that simple.”

© 2017 3D Coaching Ltd
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