3D Ideas 863: What’s it for?

Claire writes: “Our job is to have conversations where people want to move forward.  They come to these conversations for all kinds of reasons. Some don’t know why they have come.  When they do, it seems to be one of these. They come:

  • with a particular thing to explore – doing something differently, or being different
  • when they are stuck
  • as they are transitioning to a new job, or project
  • to think about endings or moving forward
  • or because they just need a place outside their context – family or organisation where, over time, they would like an external thinking partner or critical friend
  • for a reason they can’t articulate

What will be useful always starts with knowing what the conversation/s will be for. Only then can we take a stab at how long, how often or how many.  Because often one conversation can be enough. Which is why we do so much single session coaching.

This thinking emerged in conversation with Adrian Goodall PCC.  In coaching, we are about moving forward – although glancing back can be useful sometimes.  If the conversation that’s needed is to have a good look back, that requires a different conversation with a different kind of practitioner.”

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3D Ideas 862: Closed Questions

Claire writes: “Open questions encourage people to talk.  Closed questions can be answered by yes or no. The books say that in coaching we should be asking open questions.  I totally agree with that… except when closed questions are better!

If the person I am talking with has leapt ahead after an insight, a closed question is better: Do you know what you’re going to do next?  Otherwise they will answer the open question and tell you what they already know! That may take them backwards. Do you need to say it out loud is a good supplementary when they say ‘yes’!  It’s only useful to explore what next if they don’t know.”

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3D Ideas 861: R and R

Claire writes: “One video that stands out for me is from a holiday in the USA about 18 years ago.  Two excited girls shouting ‘summer’s over’. It sounded very like ‘summer’s awesome’!

I’m back at work, and although I didn’t read as much as I had planned, I thought deeply about an image I saw on social media (Instagram ninetypesco).  It reads Nine Types of Rest:

  • time away
  • permission to not be helpful
  • something ‘“unproductive”
  • connection to art and nature
  • solitude to recharge
  • a break from responsibility
  • stillness to decompress
  • safe space
  • alone time at home

I don’t know about you, but that gave me some useful insights to put into practice during an extended rest… and more importantly to bring back to the rhythm of a new season.”

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3D Ideas 860: Permission

Claire writes: “I wrote about partnership a few blog posts ago.  This question is on my mind a lot: what is great partnership in a conversation?

Permission is needed for partnership or else I am doing the leading.  Is it useful to…? is a great question.

More significantly, permission is useful when we offer observations.  Otherwise it is mixed up and unclear about what’s from me and what’s yours.  ‘Can I make an observation… [this is what I notice – you are nodding your head and saying no at the same time] is more powerful than turning it into a question where we might lose the meaning [how motivated are you?].”

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3D Ideas 859: Which Way is Forward?

Claire writes: “It’s the little things that teach the most useful lessons.  We will do a video on this one – meanwhile, let me try and describe it in words.

If coaching is a process in which people move forward in their thinking, generally we need, in our minds, to be looking ahead together.  The risk in asking background questions is that they mentally turn around and start moving backwards.  

The past might be important – but think about encouraging them to glance over their shoulder rather than march back into the past.

And when they download past and present in bulk as you begin the conversation, try a future focussed question to interrupt.  “So today?” In two words, we have refocused forwards.

Often when conversations fail to move forward, it’s because we have spent most of the conversation looking the other way.

If you are a fan of the GROW coaching model, this is why it isn’t always useful to ask ‘what’s the reality?’ – except when it is.  You’ll only know that by asking – is this useful?”

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3D Ideas 858: Whose Problem?

Clare T writes: “My son is in the process of thinking through if University is his best next step. Being armed with all the information and doing a thorough pros and cons analysis of each option is of course a priority. However, this is only part of the picture. Before he hits the “submit” button, choices need to be made.

This is the first major decision Dan has had to make and he is unsure he has skills and ability to make what feels like a massive, life shaping choice. Supporting him in this process has really brought to mind one of the 3D principles – keep the responsibility in the middle

Dan is keen to have our advice and guidance, which of course is part of our role as parents. He isn’t always very proactive and I could easily take responsibility for all the research and moving forward with the process. 

We can all recall times when it was frankly quicker and easier to “tell” someone what to do next rather than providing space and support as they think through a decision for themselves. At this stage, whilst the thinking takes place, it feels pretty supportive to him to know that the responsibility can be held in the middle, it is not mine to hold and nor does Dan have to hold it alone. When he is ready to make the decision and the thinking is done, the decision will be his and he will feel much more skilled and empowered to take it but until he is ready and at that point, the responsibility can stay in its rightful place of being in the middle. “ 

Do you have conversations with young people and find at times it’s easier frankly to “tell” rather than support them to move forward in their own thinking? Do you want more effective conversations? Join Claire and Ruth at a free webinar where we will look at how this can be possible. Tuesday 15th October 19.00 – 19.45 (UK)”

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3D Ideas 857: Hope

Claire writes: “Often on Transforming Conversations people say ‘I haven’t got any more problems to bring’.  It’s interesting how quickly we assume that 1-1 conversations are to solve problems.  They are equally useful to grow, develop and build on positive learning!

There are a number of ways that contracting sets an optimistic future focused tone in the conversation

  • What would you like to think about today? (Think rather than talk)
  • What would you like to be different by the end of our conversation? (Because it is our intention together to move this forward)

The hope is in the questions.  And that’s what sets the tone.”

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3D Ideas 856: Too many words

Claire writes: “Last week’s post was about how holding onto the ball in a conversation can interrupt someone’s thinking.  Using too many words has the same effect. I notice that the more words I use, the more I look like an expert – and the less work you do.

Less is more.  We often challenge delegates on courses to make every question 5 words or less! Try it!”

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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!”

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3D Ideas 854: Who has the power?

Claire writes: “We have run a few courses in the last month where organisations are hoping that a coaching style will enable people to pass on responsibility and knowledge in their encounters with others.

The challenge is that people do what they normally do when they are where they normally are.  If we have sat in this place in numerous conversations where you have taken the responsibility, you using different words will probably make little difference!  The reason for that is that although you can learn not to take the responsibility, if I give it to you, you still have it!

Here are a few things that we know make a difference – we’d love you to comment on the blog and add your own:

  1. Have the conversation in a different place
  2. Move more
  3. Know that the more words you use, the more you look like the expert – even when you’re not
  4. Don’t start doing the work until we know
    • What are we doing today?
    • How shall we do it?
    • How will we know we have done it
    • You’re probably familiar by now with our STOKeRS questions – the R question – what role shall I take? –  or more simply ‘how are we going to do this’ almost always elicits the answer ‘I don’t know’.  It is important to ask because you are beginning by suggesting ‘I don’t know the best way for us to do this – I won’t do it my way – let’s work it out together’.  So that when you check in a few minutes later ‘Is this useful?’ You are more likely to get an honest answer!
  5. We blogged in February about Landing the plane and how perceived power can affect the end of conversations

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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!