Questioning and listening skills are a cornerstone of coaching excellence. We all know how to ask questions and to listen but there is real skill to doing this effectively when coaching. Questions can be educators, catalysts, weapons, tools and much, much more. From a coaching perspective, it is helpful to think of questions as, “the seeking of information for clarity, insight and learning”. I think you will agree that any profession that is focused on communication and competency must pay close attention to questions.
Just as we have all learned, there are no dumb questions, there are also no bad questions. However, there are ways to turn a good question into a great question by paying attention to the phrasing, timing and framework. Questioning skill involves not only the ability to ask excellent questions, but also to ask them in a manner that is open, unattached and judgment-free.
Coaches need to learn how to ask insightful questions that will elicit revealing responses and then listen to the coachee. The goal is to guide the coachee through the self-discovery process. While some coaches can prepare their next question on the fly, it can be helpful to have a battery of questions covering different categories prepared and ready to pull from your toolkit.
It is not enough to ask insightful and clarifying questions. A coach must also have excellent listening skills. This one can be challenging for many of us. This takes focus, genuine interest in what our coachee has to say and discernment to ‘hear’ what they are really saying. You might think of this as mindful listening. This type of listeningcreates the ability to establish relationships and build bonds with others. One of the biggest mistakes people make in conversation is to focus on their own responses to what is being said. As a result, they end up missing portions of what the other person is saying. This habit can be hard to break but well worth practicing in order to improve listening skills. A common listening tool, and one that can help you keep the focus on your coachee, is to immediately restate what they have said to ensure that you ‘heard’ them correctly.
There is much to be learned and mastered when it comes to questioning and listeningskills. We will dive into this topic in our next webinar with live coaching demos. Be sure to register for this lively and educational webinar.
As a reminder, we also offer the 365 Coaching Questions booklet. This is a resource to help you develop your questioning skills. These 365 questions are jumping off points or catalysts for you. Categorized by topic, most of the questions may be adapted to fit different situations. We invite you to integrate them into your own voice and try out different questions in different situations. If you already have a copy, pull it out during the webinar and make notes. Don’t have a copy? Get your copy here.