Ask great questions

As a leader, it may be easy to impress with your knowledge but finding the right words at the right time to ask a great coaching question that focuses the attention of the listener where it most needs to be is a tough call. Why is this? Often, neither the person who is asking the question, nor the person who is being asked, realises consciously that the question prompts the listener in a certain direction and will generally predetermine the answer. In other words, you do really get what you ask for. As a leader who uses coaching questions, your choice of question will determine the direction of the coaching conversation. A great question not only makes the other person think and resonates with them but it also achieves your clear intent and purpose and moves the conversation in a good direction. This means asking yourself, “What do I hope to achieve with this question?” BEFORE you ask it. Being clear about what you want to achieve not only determines the words that you use and the type of question you choose but equally, determines the non–verbal communication that accompanies the question you are asking. Your non–verbal communication, by which we mean your body–language including gestures, facial expression as well as your tone of voice and vocal emphasis, can change the way in which a question is both asked and interpreted.  A simple question like “What do you think?” has different shades of meaning according to how the words are emphasised. For example, “What do you think?” (emphasis on you) is different to “What do you think?”(emphasis on the...

Keeping the brain young and fit

Searching for a birthday card recently for a friend, I came across one that read, “Inside every older person, there is a young one wondering what on earth happened.” (Text in italics loosely paraphrased for public consumption, of course!) There are many things we may choose to dispute but there is no getting around the fact that we all get older every day – even if we don’t always feel it.  In fact, there is a lot we can do to stay pro-actively young no matter what age we are. Physical fitness is important but so is keeping the brain young and fit. Working on our reaction time, focus, clarity of thinking sharpens our thought processes and is this is definitely a benefit for our communication skills. By happy coincidence, browsing on the website of Psychology Today, I came across a link to a site called “Lumosity” that claims to improve your brain health and performance and allows you to build a free and personalized on-line training programme to enhance memory and attention and track improvements. I’ve signed up, tried it out and found it great fun as well.  ...

Non-traditional approaches to learning

Traditionally, teaching – as well as many organisational initiatives in training and development – is classroom-based. Is it time to change the basic approach? Many companies are already placing more emphasis on distance learning or blended courses where a physical on-site presence may be required for only part of the time. Providing access to information and education when the learners are separated by time or distance or both is perhaps a natural focus in an increasingly virtual world and of course, may also be more cost-effective. Now comes “flipped” learning, crossing from the education sector  and bringing with it an adaptation of traditional training techniques. The principle is to provide training content upfront, allowing instructor-led sessions to focus on specific requirements of trainees, replacing generic content on a given subject. We will be investigating to find out more. Why not tell us what you think…...

An instant way to start coaching

Coaching is a much-discussed topic in the workplace these days. Many managers and team leaders are expected to coach and yet there is still much uncertainty about what excatly coaching is, what a coach does, who can be coached and how. At The Training Box we welcome all contributions to the debate that demystifies coaching and makes it as accessible as possible to the broadest audience. We recommend “Instant Coaching” by Paul Birch (Kogan Page, 2001) for a very practical approach. Light on theory, there are lots of exercises for you to try out and build your coaching muscles.  ...

Why men and women network differently

For both men and women, networking is an integral part of furthering career plans. With a wide focus on getting more women into senior positions, it seems men may nonetheless have an advantage in the way in which they use networking and conduct their networking conversations. The difference in some aspects of male/female behaviour leads to different communication and conversational patterns when there are newtworking opportunities. The conclusion? Women need to work the room more and with a stronger focus on marketing themselves. This article from Personnel Today offers insight into the different approaches and some great tips for women who would like to improve their networking style....

Give yourself a gift: invest in YOU

“If you can dream it, you can do it” Walt Disney Choose the festive season and the approach of another year to draw up your personal balance sheet and plan to invest in yourself in the year ahead with some self-coaching. Self-coaching means you take the initiative in creating positive changes in your life without professional help. There are the many benefits to this empowering process of realising your own capabilities and setting your own goals (not the least of which is that you won’t have to pay anyone). Like any new skill, self-coaching needs to be learned and practised for it to be effective. 1.    List the highlights of the past year in all aspects of your life ( work, home, relationships… ) 2.   Write down your successes and identify areas that could benefit from some improvement. 3.   Be honest and admit where you are going wrong. 4.   Ask questions that help identify positive solutions e.g. what could you have do differently. 5.   Decide what your goals will be for the next year and break them down into realistically achievable chunks. 6.   Focus your attention on the things you really want to achieve and commit to them. 7.   Identify / use outside resources such as supportive friends or read up on coaching techniques that can help you. 8.   Track your progress consistently with a diary or a worksheet. 9.   Revisit and revise your goals but keep your eye on the prize, especially with long-term goals. 10. Celebrate your successes and think positive thoughts. Self-coaching techniques form part of our Focus Area “Personal Mastery” The following posts in our Treasure...