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Category: ICF 06 Powerful Questioning

3D Ideas 926: Let Go of the Baton

Claire writes: “Zoom world is loved by some and hated by others.  One thing I love is that when I watch coaches coaching, I get the same view as them of the thinker thinking.  My neighbours must be fed up with me saying loudly: ‘Please. Stop. Talking!’”

Coaching is about keeping someone’s thinking in flow so that they feel heard and get new insights into their own stuff. Sometimes that’s by keeping them in flow – sometimes it’s by asking a question from a different place. But what I observe a lot of the time is that the thinker has picked up the baton and is ready to move on… while their companion keeps talking. By the time the coach has stopped talking, a question that was powerful has become less effective. The thinker was sitting waiting for you to let go of the baton so they could speak.

When we are listening to the recording together, I stop it as soon as we see the thinker pick up the baton – in their face.  It’s a bit of a game. And it’s deep learning. At that point the question was 10 out of 10. Then we count down for every word the coach says while they are holding on to the question. What they need to do is let go and let the question do its good work.  That’s what the thinker is waiting for!”

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Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2021

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to get this by email every week, you can do that here!

3D Ideas 918: Whose Question is it?

Claire writes: “I’ve been listening to people from all over the world having conversations with one another this week – and exploring with them how to work more simply. I’m learning loads.

When people talk with someone about their own stuff, they often ask themselves questions – out loud – and in their head.  This week I have heard a thinking partner answer the question – because they hear it as a request for information. Another thinking partner heard a question and then thought for a long time as they turned it into a question they asked back… which had less impact than the question  the thinker asked themselves. And I heard someone stay silent and allow the thinker to find a way through. It was like watching the thinker squeeze quality ingredients out of a tube.  This was followed by another silence and even more good stuff came out.

Noticing when someone is asking their own question is an art that is hard to learn when you are the thinking partner. You’ll learn it when you’re listening to the radio or watching TV or listening back to recordings of your own coaching.  That’s the place to refine this deep art.  Another way is to commit never to break the silence until someone asks for a question or an observation – whether that’s verbal or visual. My learning this week is that this is much easier to see someone ask for a question – or indeed tell you they don’t want one yet – on Zoom than it is face to face. Try it!”

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2020

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to get this by email every week, you can do that here!

3D Ideas 917: I Was There

Claire writes: “Welsh comedian Max Boyce was famous for the phrase ‘I Know ‘Cos I Was There’. Which brings me to the subject of asking questions.

I notice that in conversation, the question-asker will often take time to explain their question to make sure that the thinker understands it.  This can make questions grammatically correct, yes. And also very long! If, like the best questions, yours comes from what you hear or see or sense, then a few words will be enough to provoke more thinking.  Use too many words, and the question loses its impact.  They’ll understand. After all they were there! (And if they don’t understand, they can ask you!)”

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2020

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to get this by email every week, you can do that here!

 

3D Ideas 902: Fishing

Ruth writes: “The other day, as I was listening to a conversation, I started thinking about fishing. It sounded like the ‘professional’ in the situation was fishing for an answer, constantly casting their bait into the water, again and again trying to find a question that would catch the ‘fish’. 

I don’t fish. And I imagine that casting the line in quick succession won’t get the desired result. The water would be constantly stirred up, not allowing the fish to come towards the hook. 

I was left wondering how often we do that in conversations. When we ask repeated questions in quick succession – How will you know? Do you think that…? What might you need to do? and other brilliant questions I have in my stash to ask – we are constantly stirring the water, scaring away the fish. Scaring away the thought process. 

I wonder if we are like fish, needing the bait and hook to be cast and for the water to settle so that we can think more clearly. As I coach I want to learn to be like a patient fisherman.”

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3D Ideas 901: The Problem with Problems

Claire writes: “The problem with using the language of problems or issues in conversations is that there is a hidden assumption that someone has to find a solution.  And that someone is often the person who is perceived to have more power.

What’s your question for today?’ or even ‘what’s our question for today?’ has many benefits. It enables us to get to the heart of the matter more quickly.

I want to talk about having a holiday’ turns into ‘How can I have a week off that gives me enough rest?’

It also takes the pressure off the end. ‘Have we moved this forward?’ is less anxiety inducing than ‘Have we (in any way) solved your problem?’.  And as Amabile and Kramer say in The Progress Principleany progress is progress.”

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2020

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to our blog by email every week, you can do that here!

 

Moving from the language of problems to questions brings all kinds of benefits to conversations #coaching

 

3D Ideas 890: Ask Them

Claire writes: “Although we are all separated physically, the art of conversation is critical during this season of not knowing. The simplest learning from coaching is more than useful. I have just come off a call where the learning from the practice was that “he (the thinker) needs to use his brain more than me (the coach)”. Conversations work best when they happen in the space between and are not dominated by one or another.

The space and pace of life means that I have taken the same long walk alone every lunchtime for over the last 7 weeks. I walk to this tree, sit for a while, ponder, take a picture and walk home. That started before my Mum was admitted to hospital just after Covid began. We may not have seen Mum in her last three weeks, but we spoke daily on the phone.  Sadly when she died a few weeks ago, I have experienced all kinds of responses from others.  Many of these have been to tell me how traumatic it has been for me. Without asking how I feel. It’s hard to say ‘not traumatised’ after that and it seems that feeling OK isn’t an acceptable answer. Grief in a time of Covid, for me, has occupied a spacious time with a slower pace and lots of outdoor thinking space. All this has been significantly helped by my parents making clear their wishes for direct cremation many months ago. If it’s useful to you, my Dad wrote this article to help him work out what he was thinking about funerals. It has made planning something different a much easier process than it might have been.

 

My Mum used to say ‘visitors first’. 3D’s first principle of coaching is ‘ask them’. Let’s ask people how they are feeling today rather than telling them how they feel.  We won’t know unless we ask. We may be in the same boat but we are all responding to this season in different ways.”

 

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2020

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to get this by email every week, you can do that here!

 

3D Ideas 871: Not a problem

Claire writes: ‘Last week I spent a day in the Maths classroom in a secondary school.  I was developing teachers who are using a coach approach with colleagues. There was plenty of learning and a recognition of how much coaching can easily seen to be a way of fixing under-performing teachers. Here’s one picture from the wall display about how Maths can change the world!

When receiving coaching makes someone feel done to, it’s painful for both colleagues and at best can only move things forward in a transactional way.  As long as there is enough trust, there is potential for transformation – when people have deeper insights that will change how they think about something.

The first step is to stop talking about problems that need fixing.  I like to start a conversation asking people ‘What’s your question for today?’.  It’s optimistic and future focused. It shows respect and makes the conversation easier.  And it shifts thinking.”

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2019

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to get this by email every week, you can do that here!

3D Ideas 870: Edible Worms

Claire writes: “People tell us what to say, or how to work with them!  We teach that all the time, and it’s always great to be emailed some feedback with one of your examples.  Thank you Claire Banham:

The lady I was coaching yesterday decided that, as we were in the final 10 mins of our session, she didn’t “want to open the whole can of worms today.”  Then she paused and said “so to finish I’d like a bite-sized worm please!”

That picture (and luckily we were both picturing the sweet kind, rather than the wriggly garden variety!) was so useful, and helped her choose how we closed the session, I thought I’d share it with you!”

I am looking for examples of where you have used a coaching approach at work and it has been useful.  Four sentences would be great – your context, what was happening, what you did together and what was different/useful about the outcome. These are for a book to be published in late 2020.  Please email claire@www.3dcoaching.com and be clear that you give permission for it to be used.  Let us know if you would prefer your name/organisation to be anonymised. Thank you!”

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2019

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to get this by email every week, you can do that here!

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

May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com If you would like to get this by email every week, you can do that here!

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…”

© 2019 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely. Please retain contact details: www.3dcoaching.com and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.com Register here to receive our blog posts every Monday by email

 

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