Tag: good questions

3D Ideas 718: Upside Down

Claire writes: “Listening to some great work conversations last week, I was observing how much negative language can drag people down. ‘Tell me more about the problem’ affirms what may feel negative and it suggests there might be a solution. Most work situations are dilemmas with potential ways forward more than problems with a solution, anyway!

It may feel upside down, but useful questions might include: What’s your most important question about that?

And if someone finds that hard to articulate, start them off: “Why not start – how can I/we…?”

Positivity does not minimise what is probably a complex situation – yet it does suggest that there will, somewhere, be a way forward of some kind. And that allows people to think.”

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3D Juggling 716: It’s Complicated

Its easy to be complicatedClaire writes: “As a delegate on a course said so succinctly the other day:

‘It’s easy to be complicated. Simple is difficult’

If we have any confidence in a question we ask, we can leave it to do what it needs to. If we are so lacking in confidence that we follow up with more and more words, it may be better to say nothing. Where trust is high, saying nothing has surprisingly powerful results!”

© 2016 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Juggling 714: How open is open?

open-966315_1280Claire writes: “It’s a great privilege to spend much of our weeks observing other people having conversations – there is so much to be learned.

I am noticing that even open questions have a scale of openness!

If I ask ‘What else?’ you might think I assume you are missing something out. It’s the same with ‘Something else?’. It’s interesting that ‘Anything else?’ is the only one received as open.

And ‘Anything else?’ or ‘?’ are both great questions to help people go deeper into their thinking.”

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3D Juggling 712: Short and Sweet

question-mark-358177_1280Claire writes: “We use an exercise in our training where people can only ask a question with 10 words or less. Recently for fun, I divided the group into three – one group could use 10 words, one group 3 words and one group 1 word.

The 10 words group could see how fast the person thinking in the 1 word group were moving and changed their rules. Short questions work. They keep people in flow. Questions like:

  • So?
  • And?
  • Go on… (particularly useful when the person has asked themselves a question – much better than reframing it!)
  • Say it?
  • And now?

In Making Questions Work, Dorothy Strachan talks about the phases of a good conversation from What? So what? to Now what?

Try it!”

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3D Juggling 707: The Odd Things

Coaching Toolkit

Claire writes: “We have been trying out a few ideas lately as we work with people to have more effective conversations. One thing I have noticed is how wordy we can get when trying to talk about something. It easily becomes interview and transmit more than facilitate and think.

So I went to Wilkos and bought half a dozen A3 sketch pads. The next masterclass for people using coaching at work, I gave them each a pad and a packet of pens. Once they had worked out what they were thinking about, the thinker simply drew or scribbled on the pad – and only asked for a question when they wanted one. Which was hardly ever! And when they did – they just noticed what they noticed about the page. Which was usually pointing quizically to the odd things – the empty space or the word with several underlinings.

The feedback from the thinkers was how much more effective it was a way of helping them think than a normal coaching conversation. And yet it was coaching and transformation emerged for them all.”

© 2015 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Juggling 690: Why Again

Claire writes: “Curiosity is a fundamental part of a coaching style. And yet there is a fine line between me encouraging you to get curious about your situation and me finding out what I would like to know.

When we listen to people having conversations, I notice that ‘why‘ is often about the coach’s personal understanding of their situation. ‘What‘ is more often about the person’s. And when we are not sure, a good question can be: “Would it be useful to you to think why…?

In Making Questions Work, Dorothy Strachan talks about three stages in a conversation:

  • What?
  • So what?
  • Now what?

which can be even more useful than why!”

© 2015 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Juggling 662: Say what you see

What a privilege to have sponsored the Emerging Leader awards for the NHS London Leadership Academy last week. Congratulations to Durka Dougall and Charlotte Hazelton who were joint winners.

Claire writes: ‘There’s a lot happening in a conversation – the words, the tone, the pace, the silence. One of the coaching tools that can be used in any dialogue is to say what we see or hear. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Chris Argyris’ Ladder of Inference reminds us how easy it is to add interpretation and assumptions to what we see so that imagination spirals out of control and we start changing our behaviour based on what we assume and not what actually happened.

What we can learn from coaching is to work on what is seen – the video – rather than the commentary. This can be helpful when the person we are talking to is talking about a third party. When they diagnose ‘They were angry’ we can ask ‘What did you see?’

This takes practice because when a conversation is transformed we will be saying what we see without judgement, interpretation or performance anxiety. Try it!

Principle 6: Say what you see without judgement’

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3D Juggling 651: Moving Walkway

Claire writes: ‘With the travelling I did in May, we went on a fair few moving walkways in airports.  The best one by far though was actually in theMoving Walkway basement of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  It was lit by tiny lights that moved in unique patterns.

Like those lights, every conversation we have is different.  And every conversation moves in the dialogue between us as well as in what we are thinking.  Which is why it’s useful to remember to ask questions based on where we are now – and not where we were at the beginning of a conversation.  And if we’re not sure, we can simply ask!

[Thanks to Nikki from Moorfields NHS Foundation Trust Hospital for pointing this out]

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3D Juggling 642: When The Answer Is In The Question

Claire writes: “Someone commented at a recent Coaching for Excellence that the one thing they were taking away was to stop asking questions that contained the answer.

When the answer is in the question, it’s not really a question!  It’s problem-solver in disguise!  To fully help someone engage in their own thinking, we need to move from thinking and analysis and talking to the problem, to presence and responsiveness and talking to the person.”

© 2014 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Juggling 638: What if they don’t know?

Claire writes: “It’s not unusual in a 1-1 to be talking to someone and to ask them what they might do… and they say they don’t know.  That makes us think we need to suggest, or advise, or step back and leave them drowning in a lack of ideas.

Just because they don’t know what to do does not mean we have to tell them.  A coaching skill that can be useful across a variety of 1-1s is what we call scoping.  Some people just need to think about options.  When we are coaching someone to become more fluent in doing something (skills coaching), I might say “We could look at it like this, or this, or this.  How else might we do that? Which would be most helpful to start?”  It’s useful when someone wants to change career and doesn’t know what to do – “We could think about skills, marketing and CVs, dreams and hopes, maths, influencing or all sorts of things.  Where is a good place to start?”

And when people are stuck on deciding a course of action in a situation they need to think about, gas cooking can help: “So you could choose to do nothing. That could be no heat.  Or you could choose to do [something extreme].  If that was Gas Mark 9, what would a Gas Mark 4 reaction be? What about 7?”  That helps them generate more ideas.  Somehow naming the ends creates more creativity to find a middle way.

What do you do to help people get through being stuck at work?”

© 2014 3D Coaching Ltd
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