Unlock Every Conversation With Powerful Questions

Coaching skills are useful with everyone we meet, no matter if we have three minutes or an hour. Here’s how to use the five steps of The COACH Model® in daily conversations. 

We have conversations everyday. Most of them are not coaching conversations. They are brief interactions on-the-go. You can build stronger relationships and see people excel by incorporating elements of The COACH Model® into your everyday conversations. Use the steps individually, one or two at a time, to add depth to your conversations.

Here are a few ideas to improve your conversations at work and at home:

Connect. Build rapport and trust.
People love to talk! Everyone feels valued and important when someone listens and pays attention to them. Ask a question, and really listen. Continue with additional questions to encourage the person to share more. Asking an employee, “How was your weekend?,” isn’t just small talk. It’s a chance to learn what they value and how they feel about their life right now.

  • Ask a co-worker, “How are things at home?”
  • After an event, ask your spouse, “Who did you connect with the most?”
  • Ask an employee, “What was the best part of your weekend?”

Outcome. Draw out what’s on the other person’s mind.
In every conversation you have some kind of an agenda. Maybe you want to be heard, to pass on information, or get something done. You know your agenda, but what’s the other person’s agenda? If you know what’s on their mind, it will be much easier to work together, communicate, or enjoy time together.

  • Ask an employee, “What would be helpful for us to talk about?”
  • Ask your supervisor, “What result would you like from our meeting today?”
  • Ask your spouse, “What do you want to make sure we do this weekend?”

Awareness. Encourage exploration, discovery, and shifts of perspective.
In our fast-paced world we too often cut short conversations that require exploration. We’re looking for easy answers that don’t stir up more work. Encourage exploration by asking questions that will cause someone to reflect more deeply. Then you’ll find underlying issues, meaning, and new learning.

  • Ask your coworker, “What other factors might be affecting this situation?”
  • Ask an employee, “From the customer’s perspective, what do think they are seeing?”
  • Ask your teenager, “What do you hope will happen if you have that conversation?”

Course. Form insights into 2 or 3 actionable steps.
Insights without action steps are just good ideas. Rather than telling someone what you’d like them to do, invite them to take action by asking them what they will do next. When you give people a choice to do something, they feel more ownership and are more likely to complete it.

  • Ask an employee, “What actions could you take to move forward on this?”
  • Ask your child, “What are the next couple of steps in working on that project?”
  • Finish a meeting by asking, “What will each of us commit to do before our next meeting?”

Highlights. Deepen reflection and surface learning.
Everyday we have experiences, but we don’t always learn from them. In fact, because we don’t reflect on our experiences we gain very little. Instead, ask Highlights questions to encourage deeper thinking to surface insights, lessons, principles, and learning.

  • When an employee shares an experience, ask, “What did you learn through this?”
  • As you finish reading something ask yourself, “What was most useful from this article?”
  • At the dinner table ask, “What do you want to remember from today?”

Coaching skills can be used in any situation, one skill at a time. Don’t wait until you have time or the situation to put them all together into a long conversation.

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    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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