What questions should I ask?
In fact, the simple act of asking someone about themselves and being genuinely interested in their answer is a fairly unusual experience in our busy lives. Too often we ask questions but aren’t really able to listen to the answer. The problem here doesn’t lie with the question itself, but the way we listen and engage or CARE (first article in the series). To clarify, we ask questions at all stages of our coaching model. ASK is specifically about the next phase of the conversation after reconnecting, which is to find out as quickly as possible, without rushing, how we can have the most productive conversation. After twenty years of coaching, we have found the following questions consistently help the ‘coach’ quickly establish what a ‘coachee’ might need from the conversation. The simplest ones we use are: “Is there anything, in particular, you would like to get from this conversation?” “What would be a good use of your time today?” “How can I be most useful to you today?” “What’s on your mind at the moment?”
One of our favourite questions, which is a bit of mouthful but works every time: “If 10 was ‘everything in your life is great right now’ and 0 was ‘nothing in your life is going well right now’, what score would you give yourself today?”. We love this question because it forces us to think in the round. It helps the coach understand what is going well in their coachee’s life and what isn’t – and to do so really quickly. It also helps the coachee understand that ‘life’ is much more than just one aspect that they may be focussing on improving. Provided they haven’t given scored themselves a score of 0 (and in twenty years of using this question, with thousands of people, many of whom faced extremely challenging situations, the lowest score we’ve ever had is a ‘1’), the follow-up questions are simply: “Why have you given yourself that score?” “What is going well?” “What isn’t going as well as you’d like?” The coach should also ask whether they would give themselves the same score for how life has been since the last meeting/ session, or whether this score is just for today/ last few days. This really helps the coach understand what the coachee might need from this particular conversation. Once the coach has found out why and whether it is just a temporary thing or more long-term they can then ask what might help move the score in a positive direction. An increment of 1 is good if someone has given themselves an initial score of 5-8 and an increment of 0.5 is good progress for any score under 5. You definitely cannot solve all of life’s ills in one conversation! An additional benefit of asking this type of score-based question is that it can give you a way of assessing the effectiveness of your conversation. At the end of a coaching conversation, you can simply ask what their score is now and see if you made any difference. If so, what worked and if not, what could be improved on for next time.
Trust your coachee
All of these questions should help the coach navigate their way to understanding where they can help/add value. The next part of the CAUSE model, UNDERSTAND, should also be employed through this section, and we will be covering it in a few week’s time. At this point, it can be useful to remember that the coachee may not want to focus on the things the coach thinks they should focus on! It is very important to remember that you have to trust the coachee and the process of the coaching conversation. Where you start may not be where you end up, or you may discover that they understand what they need in a different way to you. If you feel that the conversation is not about what they said they wanted or needed you can, and should, check back in as the conversation evolves – for example, you can say “I’m absolutely fine with the change in direction but we seem to be talking about ‘x’ when we started to talk about ‘y’ – is that ok with you?”. You can read more about the second part of A, Acknowledge, here.
Would your company benefit from taking part in our inclusive coaching programme?
Arrival Education works with leading organisations to help unlock the power of difference. Our leading coaching programmes are just one of the ways in which we do this. If you would like more information about how your organisation could benefit from working with us, please get in touch using the form below.