5 Great Reasons To Ask Questions
We’ve been talking about the heart behind the asking approach. There are practical reasons to adopt coaching questions as well. Here are five key reasons to ask instead of telling:
All the information is with the coachee
Nobody knows more about you than you. Since all the memories of your life are stored in your head, you are the resident expert on you. So if you are, say, trying to improve your relationship with a co-worker, you can call up years of memories of working with that person, list what you’ve tried so far or what’s worked with others in the past, describe the organizational culture at your workplace, etc. The coach has none of that information. The coachee always knows far more about the situation than the coach.
Asking creates buy-in
Coaching starts with the assumption that the key to change is not knowing what to do-its being motivated to do it. Research shows (and experience confirms) that people are more motivated to carry out their own ideas and solutions. What that means is that a less-optimal solution the coachee develops often produces better results than the “right” answer corning from the coach. Asking creates buy-in, and buy-in gets results.
I’ve made an interesting discovery as a coach. People often ask for coaching to help them make a major decision. But roughly 80% of the time, I find that they already know what to do: they just don’t have the confidence to step out and do it. Self-confidence is a huge factor in change. When you ask for people’s opinions and take them seriously, you are sending a powerful message: “You have great ideas. I believe in you. You can do this.” Just asking can empower people to do things they couldn’t do on their own.
Asking develops leadership capacity
Leadership is the ability to take responsibility. A leader is someone who sees a problem, and says, “Hey- someone needs to do something about this! And I’m going to be that someone.” Simply asking, “What could you do about that?” moves people away from depending on you for answers, and toward taking leadership in the situation. Asking builds the responsibility muscle, and that develops leaders.
Asking creates authenticity
We all want to be known and loved. There is a no greater relational gift than to have someone see the real you and value it. The art of asking creates a bond between us and those we coach, because by asking we honour and value them. Taking the time to ask significant questions (and listen to the answers!) communicates that we really want to know who they are at a deep level. This asking approach is the quickest way to build trust and transparency between people. And when we talk about the things our clients really care about, they make changes that are truly transformational.
Coaching Questions, A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills, By Tony Stoltzfus