A few good questions, used well, can turbo-charge someone's growth.
Melvin’s response: “I guess the real challenge is how to separate the work and relationship issues. How to be OK with Bernice being my boss at work, even though we’re equals in our private life.”
He’s done all the work. He now understands what he really has to deal with, and he probably thinks you’re an absolute genius at this point.
Ask Them to Identify Their Needs
The next question gets them looking forward towards solutions. “What do you want? What do you really want?” People are often quite oblivious to what they actually want until they stop and think about it.
Use simple but well-directed questions to help people find their own answers
Sometimes they can tell you outright what they want. Melvin knows instantly. “I want to make sure that Bernice and I have clear boundaries between our work and home lives.”
Other times you need to listen carefully to what people say. Usually, there’s a basic need they’re trying to express. They want to belong, they want autonomy and control over the situation, they want recognition for their achievements, they want to know they’ll be secure. It really isn’t rocket science if you pay attention.
If someone says, “I’m worried that people are talking behind my back,” they’re probably concerned about belonging. “I don’t know if I’ll get the raise” is about security or recognition. And so on.
Melvin wants clear boundaries with Bernice, so he can have a successful personal and professional relationship with her. He wants both love and achievement.
Ask Them How You Fit
Now that they’ve worked out most of their problem for themselves, ask "What do you want from me?” Ask sincerely and with genuine curiosity. Their understanding of their problem has changed. Whatever they originally would have wanted probably no longer applies. If they haven’t actually solved their problem themselves, their request to you will likely be for something more targeted and more useful than they would otherwise have asked.
At this point, it’s probably clear to Melvin that everything he needs, he has. He can approach Bernice honestly and simply say, “I’d like to talk about how we can best be a loving couple and partners in achievement.” Fortunately for us, we don’t need to be in the middle of it.
The Coaching Habit has other good questions, and elaborates extensively on these. If you’re someone who others come to for answers, you can use simple but well-directed questions to help them find their own answers, so you can get back to clawing your own way to the top. If you want to check out my full interview with Michael, visit http://getitdoneguy.com/coaching.
I’m Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. Want great keynote speeches on productivity, Living an Extraordinary Life, or entrepreneurship? Hire me! Find me at http://SteverRobbins.com.
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