Who Takes the First Shot?
While many say that pure coaching consists of giving no advice at all, I’ve heard many coaches confess that they do give advice from time to time. I would love to hear from you - what is your stance? And, what can we coaches do to get it right? Here is a technique that coaches and coachees have found extremely useful.
Imagine that you are coaching someone who is describing a dilemma in which she feels really stuck. She finally says: “What do YOU think I should do?”
Try this three-step technique:
Throw the question back and say “Well, I'd like to hear YOUR thoughts first. What do YOU think?” I call this the ‘first mover status’ – give her the first shot at the answer. This will jumpstart her brain to be proactive, generating solutions, instead of waiting passively for you to save the day.
You can then turn it into a one-way brainstorm session, by asking “What else could you do?” time after time, varying your wording as needed. You will notice that the silences after your questions will get longer and longer. This is because her first answers will consist of ideas she’s already thought of – so no new thought. But once she runs out of ready-to-go answers, she will need more time to create new ideas – hence the silences. And it is very likely that she may come up with some ideas that you had already thought of in the process.
When she finally cannot think of anything else, and if you still have a few ideas up your sleeve, you can inquire: “I have a few more ideas. Would you like me to share them?” With this question you are giving her a choice, which is important. I have regularly experienced coachees not wanting any ideas from me at this point in the conversation, because they are so happy with the solutions they’ve generated themselves!
What have you done here? You’ve gotten your coachee to move from asking for help and reactively waiting for advice – to proactively generating her own solutions.
So the next time that you find yourself being asked for advice during a coaching conversation, try this three-step technique to engage your coachee in the creative process of finding solutions on their own!