Posts Tagged ‘questions’

Asking great questions!

February 9, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 9

Continuing the coaching theme for International Coaching Week, today’s blog discusses the benefits of questioning.

What makes a really great question?

Short answer: That would depend on the person being asked and the context.

Longer answer: Great questions

  • come from a place of understanding (from listening)
  • challenge the person being asked (in a supportive way)
  • elicit learning from the recipient
  • can consolidate and clarify
  • create those “Wow, I never realised that about myself” moments

Whether you’re a team leader or manager coaching a team member, peer coaching, or an external coach with your client, asking the right questions is part of the recipe for coaching success.

Usually, you know when you’ve asked a great question because it will result in:

  • a sustained period of comfortable silence – because you’ve made the person think
  • a response of “that’s a good/great question!” (It does happen!)
  • sharing of some new pertinent information, which helps the person make progress

So what have been really great questions you’ve asked your co-workers, team members, etc?

I think it can be hard to answer this without the additional background that puts them in the appropriate context. However, here are a few I’ve had success with ….

1. How do you know?

2. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

3. What’s stopped you doing more than you’ve done so far?

4. If you were an expert in this area, what would you do now?

5. What would make an excellent next question to move you forward?

6. What else?

Often the simplest ones are the best!

This is not an exhaustive list because I’m inviting lots of suggestions from you! So please add to the ones above using the comments box below. Thanks.

Also, I’d love to hear about the impact the questions had on the person being coached (or mentored).

(Photo courtesy of jscreationzs)

It’s all about good preparation

February 2, 2011

Welcome to Day 2 of my 28 Day Blog Challenge …

As well as applying the SMART process to my original blog goal, I wanted to add something more, to make it more exciting, more of a challenge.  As my SMART blog shows, there are other questions I wanted to answer to give me the greatest chance of success:

1. What values does this goal support? – being challenged is important to me, as is personal growth

2. What are the benefits of achieving this goal? – greater confidence with writing; developing a different style of writing; developing a more focused writing style; improving my own subject knowledge; learning from others; adding value …

3. What new skills / knowledge will achieving it give me? – extended knowledge from researching my blog topics; writing skills mentioned above; focused time management for blogging in the future

4. What else could it lead to? – being invited to ‘Guest blog’; writing articles; writing my first book!

5. What will my reward(s) be for achieving it? – other than reward in itself for achieving the goal, I will take time out and spend a day walking in the Derbyshire Dales

Now the ‘nitty gritty’ … the detail

The first question I asked myself was, “How do I find the material?” I don’t know whether this is something you would associate with or not. Initially I used it as a bit of an excuse for not starting something like this, but after dabbling in writing a few blogs I decided to brainstorm some topics. I started with topics which reflected the coaching and training work I do with my clients, and as I started to write, a spider’s web of ideas started to emerge. They were initially just headings, but at least I was getting started. (What gets in the way of progress is inaction – you need to start somewhere.)

I then talked to my coach, who was a regular blogger, and discussed the definition of a blog. This would answer part of the “How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal?” question. The conclusion I came to was to read other people’s blogs, start reading around what more experienced bloggers felt made a good blog, and get a feel for what styles I liked to read and how I might want my blog to look. (This is still being researched and I will continued to do this over the next 27 days – and beyond!) So far I’ve discovered length of blog and content does vary quite a lot between bloggers, which I think is not a bad thing; what I need to do during this Challenge is develop my own style.

My research also helped me conclude that there will always be material to blog about. This will come about as a result of:

  • continuing developments within my business
  • finding different ways to talk about a given topic
  • relevant news topics
  • changes and developments within coaching
  • new case studies, etc….

So my preparation can now be summarised as:

  1. identifying a goal and applying SMART, plus answering some of the more ‘meaty’ questions
  2. research around my goal area
  3. overcoming my initial obstacle about content

Further practicalities …

I’ve now decided on my topics; I am writing the first week’s worth of blogs in outline before I start, and I have identified hourly slots in my daily work diary to firm these up and for future blogs. Time will tell how effective my plans are; I will regularly review my progress and make any necessary tweaks as I go along. (Look out for my Saturday updates!)