I read this book back in 2016 and I needed a refresher on asking more and talking less. It boils down to these essential questions:
kickstart question - “What’s on your mind?”
An almost fail-safe way to start a chat that quickly turns into a real conversation is the question, “What’s on your mind?” It’s something of a Goldilocks question, walking a fine line so it is neither too open and broad nor too narrow and confining. Because it’s open, it invites people to get to the heart of the matter and share what’s most important to them.
awe question - “And what else?”
..even though we don’t really know what the issue is, or what’s going on for the person, we’re quite sure we’ve got the answer she needs. “And what else?” breaks that cycle. When asking it becomes a habit, it’s often the simplest way to stay lazy and stay curious.
focus question - “What’s the Real Challenge Here for You?”
What’s the real challenge here? Implied here is that there are a number of challenges to choose from, and you have to find the one that matters most. Phrased like this, the question will always slow people down and make them think more deeply.
it’s about bringing the focus back to the person at hand. To do that, you’d ask something like this: “I have a sense of the overall challenge. What’s the real challenge here for you?”
lazy question - “How Can I Help?”
The question “How can I help?” forces your colleague to make a direct and clear request.Also it stops you from thinking that you know how best to help and leaping into action.
Silence is often a measure of success. It may be that the person you are coaching is the type who needs a moment or two to formulate the answer in his head before speaking it. This is about giving that space.
foundation question - “What do you want?”
Asking the question “What do you want?” – could be a very difficult question to answer. We often don’t know what we “actually” want. Even if that question is answered, “What do you really want” would typically stop them in their tracks.
Even if you know what you want and are courageous enough to ask for what you want, it is often hard to say it in a way that is clearly heard and understood.
When you ask someone “What do you want?” - listen to see the need that likely lies behind the person’s request. For example, when some one says:
a. “I want you to talk to the VP for me” - it is about protection. b. “I want to leave early today” – it is about understanding c. “I want you do a new version of the report” - may be about freedom or identity
strategic question - “If You’re Saying Yes to This, What Are You Saying No To?”
By saying yes to something, we are by default saying no to something else because time is limited. This question is great when we find ourselves have the tendency to committing to too many things.
learning question - “What was most useful for you?”
The simple act of adding “for you” to the end of as many questions as possible is an everyday technique for making conversations more development- than performance-oriented. Yes, the problems still get sorted out. But with “for you” there’s often additional personal insight, and with personal insight comes increased growth and capability.