Learn how to eradicate the judgment you place on others by challenging the way you brand your people and the costly assumptions you make about them.
Stop Branding Your People – Part 4 (Excerpt from Keith’s upcoming book, Coachquest.)
In the spirit of believing that you’ve ‘tried everything,’ take a look at the following coaching questions and do an honest, self-assessment when asking yourself, “Have I actually asked these specific questions, in this specific order, and in this specific way, using this exact wording in the questions I ask?”
Yes or no. There’s no maybe here. There’s no, “I do something similar.” That’s the point. Execution and precision in the language of coaching and leadership is everything. After all, the quality of the answers you get is based on the quality of the questions you ask.
These questions that follow will facilitate a conversation and create new outcomes you’ve probably never experienced. But that’s the point; and the opportunity for you to re-brand people, situations, experiences, and ultimately, the stories you and possibly this individual have created about themselves and others, along with the ones you both want to create for yourselves. In essence, here’s your chance to establish a new baseline of who the person is and who they want to be, as well as who you want them to be. And that includes you as well!
The intention of these questions is for them to share with you what they are feeling, as well as their experiences surrounding those feelings and assumptions. So remember, you’re not just looking to seek out the facts but what is surrounding the facts, the meaning and feelings that exist, which have created either the positive or negative experience the person and you describe.
Here are the questions and steps to challenge the branding of others and create a new possibility. Remember, silence creates the space needed for people to process and self-assess. So, give the person the time and opportunity to self-reflect and respond to these questions on their terms, not yours. In order to provide some context, imagine there is an employee who harbors the following belief and has this concern.
My Boss Is Uncoachable and Is Not Open to Feedback
Here are questions you can then use to facilitate an entirely different conversation. Keep in mind, this is just one example of how to facilitate a coaching conversation that would result in a new way of thinking and outcome for the coachee, and for you.
- So, what’s going on?
- Why do you feel this way? What feelings come up around this? (Complete the sentence, “I feel ___.”)
- Are the things that you’re sharing with me actually all happening and factual?
- Do you believe it’s true?
- How do you know it’s true?
- What possible assumptions are being made around this specific situation, without the evidence to support them?
- What if it weren’t true? What would that mean to you?
- What else could be true?
- Ideally, what would you want to be true? How would you want it to be?
Here’s the coaching moment. Now, ask the person to reverse their statement, observation or truth.
For example. Let’s take the prior example.
My boss is uncoachable and is not open to feedback.
If we look at other possibilities and change the statement, they could sound like this. And as you can see, there’s not just one way to interpret it.
- My boss is coachable and open to feedback.
- My boss is uncoachable and open to feedback.
- My boss is coachable and not open to feedback.
- My boss is coachable and is not open to my feedback.
- My boss is coachable if I did a better job Coaching Up and resetting expectations with him/her.
- My boss is coachable and is open to my feedback.
- My boss is coachable and I am not open to his feedback.
- I am coachable and open to my boss’s feedback.
- I am not coachable nor open to feedback because of past experiences.
- I am coachable but not open to my boss’s feedback because I’m unsure what his/her intentions really are.
Beliefs Always Precede Your Experiences
Interesting line of various truths that can co-exist or be possible here! The question is, which one do you want to create?
Assumptions have now been brought to the surface, revealing the fact that there may be another explanation or outcome that can be created or one that has been missed. The objective here is for the individual to be able to expand their peripheral view, remove the myopic blinders they’ve developed, challenge these assumptions and create a new possibility and outcome.
The real lesson here is, regardless of how you brand someone, there are many assumptions being made that we collapse as factual and as such, intentions on either side are not as clear as they could be.
How do people know what your intentions are if you’re not clear about them? And if you’re not clear about your intentions, then the human condition kicks in and people always default to fear or the worst possible scenario before validating their case or beliefs!
This approach now becomes your opportunity to reinvent the relationships you have with those you’ve branded as well. Imagine if you simply share or use this one strategy with those people who you may struggle with? What if you became insatiably curious for a moment and authentically cared enough to want to arrive at a deeper understanding of their point of view around any situation? And if they agree with this line of thinking and methodology, then you have already taken the first bold step to strip away the old paint from the canvass and start with a fresh new surface that will allow you to paint a new picture and re-create the type of relationship that you would ideally want, rather than continuing to walk into every conversation believing that you ‘already know’ the outcome.
Here’s were yet another universal law applies. How you think, is what you will get. Said a different way, what we focus on grows and then gets manifested in our lives. The greater cost is, we then make decisions and choices around the very assumptions or judgments we’ve created. For example, “Because of the way they are, they’ll never get the promotion they want.”
As we brought this conversation to it’s conclusion (if you’ve been following the initial story line I wrote about in Part 1) that started during the initial training experience I was describing, this was a very powerful team coaching moment for all of the managers participating. They got it. Now, I didn’t say they liked the answer but then again, as a coach, I’m not paid to be popular, nor am I hired to tell people what they already know. And I’m able to achieve this, as any good coach can, without ever making anyone wrong. Why? Because I don’t brand nor judge others! And yes, the HR Director made it a point to tell me how much this conversation resonated with her.
After all, role of a transformational coach and leader is to create the space for new possibilities to emerge for every leader, and for those “difficult” people who they initially branded. Now, they have an opportunity to re-brand and re-set relationships and expectations with each person they interact with, one conversation at a time.