Yesterday I read a post by an entrepreneur on a Facebook group I’m a member of, seeking advice about a particular business dilemma.
My initial reaction to being asked a question is to answer it. Obviously, you might say… After all, we are being asked, so its only natural we respond with a solution, an idea, our point of view. Often, we’re trying to be helpful, kind and supportive when we do this.
However we will always answer others’ questions from our own unique perspective; bringing to it our own world view, baggage and experiences. The problem with this is that what we offer forward is our unique solution to someone else’s problem. And the chances of what would work for me and my unique preferences, personality and resources working out for the next person?
Actually pretty low!
So whats the alternative? For me as a coach, it’s to switch out of this low-level listening mode (thinking – what does what you’re saying mean to me?) to a higher level of listening (what are you REALLY trying to say?) and seeking first to understand further, better and deeper what a client is really asking.
And the best way to do that? Is to answer a question with another question! Sounds like a politician’s answer?! It’s not I promise, because this time I am instead asking the client a better question; one that helps them to find their own solution – and this is the foundation of a coaching approach to problem solving. Not doling out sage advice or off-the-shelf solutions, but enabling clients to find their best way to reach their goals. It’s about sharing techniques and methods, rather than ready-made answers.
So when you think you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, or find yourself chasing your tail, try asking yourself a better question, one that encourages your mind to find more solutions and options.
Rather than: ‘What if I fail?’
Try: ‘What do I need to put in place to ensure I succeed?’
Rather than: ‘How can I do this when I know nothing about sales and marketing?
Ask yourself: ‘What expert help do I need to do this well?’ or ‘How can I learn the skills I need to fill any gaps in my knowledge?’
Other great questions could be:
- ‘What needs to happen to make this work?’
- ‘What are my options here?’
- ‘Who can help me to solve this problem?’
- ‘What’s the first step towards getting this done?’
Your mind will find the answers to any questions that you ask it; so make sure you are always asking great questions that will give you the answers that will help you the most!
As a coach, I know when I’ve landed on the perfect question to ask my client when they pause and say, ‘wow, good question….’ and they DON’T know the answer. These are the questions that make us really probe, think deeply and go beyond an initial knee-jerk response.
What questions are you seeking the answers to currently? Tell me in the comments or on Instagram, and if you need help with asking more powerful questions just let me know and I’ll try and help you with re-phrasing them!