This post is part of a series called Coaching Secrets, inspired by my 2-day workshop Coaching Skills for Agile Leadership.
We all think we are actively listening and asking powerful questions.
But we are not as good as we think we are.
We may start in a space of active listening where we have a direct connection with the person. We may start from a place of curiosity where we are asking open-ended questions to deepen the learning of the person.
But it’s so easy to start analyzing, to start thinking of possible solutions, to start judging.
Even if we only do this in our head, we have broken the focused connection with the person.
Our questions may turn into advice. Our questions may be interpreted as judgment. Our questions may jump towards action too soon.
Ultimately, our questions will be less powerful.
We are not bad people. We don’t suck at what we do. We are simply trying to help, but we are not serving the other person’s highest needs.
Coaching Secret: Pretend you are an alien.
Yes, I am serious.
Pretend you know nothing about the project, the organization, the situation, the people involved. In fact, pretend you know nothing about humans or what has happened on this planet. You are here to learn as much as possible about these interesting and beautiful beings.
This helps you tap into your deepest level of curiosity.
When you get really curious, judgment falls away.
True curiosity allows us to ask questions without knowing the answer.
When you get curious, you seek to deepen the learning before solving the problem or taking action.
Curiosity enhances creativity and innovation.
When you get really curious, there are so many possibilities and perspectives to explore.
Curiosity helps deepen connections and builds trust with people.
Remember, you are doing this in service of the other person.
This is about expanding your range. Tap into your curiosity in order to be a better Scrum Master, Coach, Manager, or Team Member. Exercise your curiosity regularly to make it a part of who you are and how you show up in the world.
If you want to practice and deepen your coaching skills, join me in Burlington, MA June 28-29 for an advanced 2-day workshop Coaching Skills for Agile Leadership.
Make It Real
Step 1: Think about 1 or 2 situations that are currently bothering you. What assumptions, judgments, and actions have you taken related to these situations.
Step 2: Now tap into your inner alien and think about those situations again.
- What questions might an alien ask?
- What new perspectives might an alien explore?
- What new observations might an alien make?
Step 3: Try this approach in your next conversation.
- What feels different for you?
- What seems different for the other person?
- What possibilities opened up that surprised you?
Disclaimers: I’m thinking of a nice alien who comes in peace, not one seeking to destroy us and take our natural resources. Also, I do not mean to literally act like an alien. This might be distracting (or frightening) to the other person.