Like most people, the majority of managers do not like confrontation and have a tendency to avoid it at all costs. Here are 11 – million dollar coaching questions you can use to gently broach touchy topics, encourage self-reflection and create personal ownership around behavior.
I’m a huge advocate of motivating people by tapping into their individuality, uncovering what drives them personally and then motivating them by their goals, their dreams and their personal vision. While this is my preferred way of coaching and managing people, the unfortunate truth is, sometimes this isn’t enough for certain people, especially those who simply aren’t getting the message that their thinking, as well as their behavior is going to bring them to a self-destructive place where they don’t want nor can afford to be.
Sure, we always want to do our best to motivate by pleasure and align making a change with achieving personal goals. But the fact is, pain is often a greater motivator than pleasure.
We Resist What We Hear, but Believe What We Say
Its a universal truth. We believe what we tell ourselves but often resist hearing anything that may personally challenge us or put us on the defensive. Instead of having to deliver the tougher message that illustrates the cost incurred by perpetuating toxic thinking or behavior, you can get off your soap box, stop preaching and instead, ask better questions in order for the person to realize the cost or consequences on their own.
When people are encouraged to self-reflect in a safe environment, they wind up uncovering their gaps. They also hear the future consequence in their own words and voice, and as human beings, we believe the truths we tell ourselves. This, in turn, leads to the momentum needed for change and to create something new that would guide a person onto a more productive path.
In many cases, people aren’t even aware of their negative behavior, limiting thinking or the repercussions they would realize. That’s a blind spot for them, and a powerful coaching opportunity, for sure. So, make sure you’re patient and give the person the space to self-reflect and process their expanded peripheral viewpoint until they can come up with a new truth or greater possibility on their own.
Remember, when asking the tougher coaching questions, it doesn’t serve you or the other person if you wind up answering the questions you ask. And we’re certainly tempted to do so because it’s so much easier to see the consequence of other people’s behavior than our own! But, if you’re asking the question, and then answering your own question, then what do you need the other person in the conversation for? You can do that on your own!
We get so focused on wanting to fix the problem that we even disguise professing our thoughts, ideas and solutions in the form of a loaded statement or question! Here are two examples. “Don’t you think it would be a good idea to focus on your key accounts so that you can sell deeper and create more up-selling and cross selling opportunities?” or “If you don’t… (close that deal, work better with the team, improve your performance, hit your number, fix that relationship), then you wont……. (hit your goals, make your quota, get the bonus, be eligible for a promotion, have a job!)
The alternative? Use questions that are non-judgmental and objectively create the opening for someone to think through a situation to its conclusion in order for them to get a glimpse of the negative outcome that could happen. When you leverage the following questions in a coaching conversation, you’ll see how powerful it is when people uncover the cost of their negative thinking or behavior.
11 Coaching Questions to Address Self-Sabotaging Behavior
- What do you see happening if you keep things the way they are now?
- If nothing changes, what is it going to look like three months from now?
- What’s the potential impact of continuing to do things the way you’re doing them now?
- How is your current strategy working for you?
- What could you be missing out on?
- What could be some of the repercussions as a result of not changing?
- How does the current situation affect you (your customers, peers, team)?
- If you continue with you’re current strategy, where do you hope it takes you?
- How does this impact your personal brand and your career?
- How much longer are you going to put up with that?
- What type of benefit or payoff are you getting from doing things this way? Yes, people still tap into any available energy source they can, even if it sometimes causes suffering or difficulties. This is a deeper conversation which requires the skills of a good coach, since this is often the major blind spot for someone.
Remember, when asking these questions, you may notice a visceral reaction from others, since most of us haven’t been asked these questions, nor held accountable for authentically answering them. Stop and think about that for a moment. And keep an eye out for what each person fears most, since behind any force of change is some fear from inaction or taking action.
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