This week we will explore the maturity stimulating skill of questioning. Last weeks Blog Post focused on the foundational coaching skill of listening.

The mechanisms of interaction between the coach and the coachee are:

  1. Listening
  2. Questioning
  3. “I” Positions

Good listening at the front end of a coaching interaction provides the leader with a picture of “what’s really going on”. This is the fork in the coaching conversation where it can go one of two ways: Solution Focus or Maturity Focus.

Solution Focus

The most blatant form of the solution orientation is providing the coachee with the answer to the problem. The coachee is feeling good because they don’t have to think for themselves, the leader calms down because he/she is confident in the solution. The exquisite listening skills combined with the leaders experience positioned them to solve the problem. But, the coachee hasn’t grown.

A more covert form of problem-solving is leading questions. This type of thinking can be found in principles like Dale Carnegie’s “Let the other person feel the idea was his or hers.” While the coachee may take greater ownership for implementing a solution that they “feel” they have developed, they have not grown through the process.

Examples of leading questions might include:

Have you considered ….. ?

Isn’t it true that ….. ?

If you do x instead of y what do you think will happen?

Maturity Focus

The focus on maturity in the coachee requires the coach to ask curious questions. Curious question’s focus on the coachee “in relation to” the problem. These types of questions help the coachee to develop greater:

  • Clarity (how do I see this problem)
  • Responsibility (what is my part)
  • Courage (what will it take for me to act)

A truly curious question can not flow from a place of non-curiosity. If the coach has a strong thought, feeling or belief he/she is better to state it with a clear “I” position than to attempt to bring the coachee to their way of thinking through the skill of questioning. “I” positions will be the topics of next weeks blog.

Examples of curious questions might include:

What do you see as your part in this?

Do you know where those tears are coming from?

Are you prepared to deal with the consequences?

If you know the answer to the question before you ask it, it is not curious. The objective is to stimulate deeper thinking on the part of the coachee. It is the shift in thinking that promotes growth in maturity.

When you get to a fork in your next coaching interaction … which way will you go? What would it take for you to calm yourself down long enough to choose the path of maturity?