In Part Four we looked at questions that empower people.
This is achieved by building positive presuppositions into coaching questions.
Questions can be very powerful and to make the best use of them it pays to be meticulous – be very precise.
Well-constructed, well-directed, emotionally-based questions, can alter the thinking and state of the person you are coaching.
It’s smart to use open-ended and close-ended questions combined with a personal comment.
The questions you ask should lead to a deeper level of understanding.
Look at these two questions and decide which you prefer:
“1. If you manage to get this goal, what will it achieve?”
“2. When you manage get this goal, what will it achieve?”
The first question begins with “If” so it presupposes that the person may not get the goal.
The second question is much better because it presupposes the person will get the goal.
This simple example shows how precise you need to be when asking some questions.
A useful process for asking questions has a “What, How, When” structure.
Beginning a question with “What” sets up the agenda and points directly at the goal.
“What is the problem?”
“What is important to you?”
How questions refer to the means by which the goal can be achieved.
“How exactly do you intend to pursue this goal?”
“How will you get the resources you need?”
“How will you know you’ve got it?”
When questions introduce the critical element of time.
“When can we get started?”
“When should the first deliverable be completed?”
“What do you want?”
“When shall we meet again?”
Be aware that when you ask questions you are assuming a form of control over the thought processes of the other person.
This permits you to direct their attention by asking the right questions.
The use of precision is essential because it is quite possible to influence a person to answer a question in a certain way by leading them intentionally or unintentionally.
The words used can have a profound effect on how a person will respond.
For example: “How fast was the car travelling?” results in a radically different response than:
“At what speed was the car travelling?”
The first statement attempts to force agreement along the lines:
“The car was travelling too fast, wasn’t it?”
So, you can word a question to receive the answer you want.
It is necessary to watch the inadvertent use of leading questions.
This is done by tacking a phrase such as “isn’t it?” or won’t you?” at the end of a sentence.
This makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
The skilful use of questions presented with a strong emotional appeal can be really uplifting and get a person to accept your point of view and take positive action to move towards the goal.
The point to keep in mind is that by asking questions you can control the situation.
And then you can aim for a win-win outcome.