Say less, ask more

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If you want to be a good leader and improve your results and performance, you need to change the way you talk to others, talk less, ask smart questions and listen carefully to the answers so that later you can advise.
Questions and coaching

One of the best books I have read is Michael Bungay’s “The Coaching Habit”. And although the title and the central topic of the book is coaching, it is not written for coaching professionals (although the book can be very useful for them too), but to enhance the habit of coaching in many areas of life, including leadership. Well, coaching is an essential element of leadership. As Daniel Goleman – the renowned expert on Emotional Intelligence – indicated well, “coaching gives leadership a clear positive impact on performance, in the professional environment and also in the bottom line.”

In addition, it has been proved that applying some ideas from the world of coaching to other disciplines, such as medicine, teaching, sales… would bring great benefits. Well, most professionals tend to think more about speaking… than asking powerful questions and actively listening.

Many people think that great doctors, teachers, salespeople… are great communicators, who speak well, who explain efficiently and know how to impact others. But to be a great professional, in my opinion, it is highly recommended to speak less and listen more. In fact, there are scientific studies that show that doctors’ ability to ask and listen has a significant influence on the health of their patients. The same is also true in the sales arena; those salespeople who listen carefully to their customers and manage to ask the right questions get better results. And probably, in your profession (and in your life) you would be better off if you spoke less and asked more.

Michael Bungay recommends asking these 7 questions so that you can introduce coaching into your daily activities, whether on a professional or personal level.

  1. The Kickstart Question. Something as simple as “What’s on your mind?”. An introductory question to talk about the most relevant issue.
  2. The AWE Question. “And what else?”. A question that Will allow you get more information about the theme you are dealing with.
  3. The Focus Question. “What is the real challenge here for you?”. A very useful question to focus the topic and clearly define the problem or challenge you are going to face.
  4. The Foundation Question. “What do you want?”. It’s necessary to well define what the person really wants. Although it is usually easier to think in what you don’t want to get than in what you really want to get.
  5. The lazy question. “How can I help?”. The objective is to discover how can we help this person (our son or daughter, our customer, our student…).
  6. The strategic question. “If you are going to say yes to something, what thing you are going to say no to?”. As Michael Porter (the renowned expert on strategy) says “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”. (See my previous post – “Learn to say NO”.)
  7. The learning question. “What was most useful for you?”. It’s about learning, discovering and highlighting what deserves to be remembered.

There are 7 simple questions. Questions that will clearly help you apply progressively the coaching habits both in your professional life and in your personal life. I am fully convinced that if you change the way you talk to others, you will also change your results. If you bet on talking less, asking smart questions, and carefully listening the quality of your conversations will improve and so will the results. Because as Michael Bungay recommends “Stay curios a little bit longer and give advice just a little bit slower”.

Xavi Roca

I am Talentist, I help organizations, managers and professionals to achieve high performance through enhancing their leadership and personal brand. I am passionate about leadership, high performance team management and Personal Branding, and I have dedicated my professional career to helping companies and professionals develop and enhance their talents and strengths to achieve their maximum development and performance.

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