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Make the Most of Your High-Mileage Questions_Final

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>> Coaching provides a safe space for our clients to be heard. When you ask powerful, high-mileage questions, you shape that space into a productive arena for your clients to access their inner wisdom. You may recall from the Health Coach Training Program that high-mileage questions are open-ended, thought provoking questions that prompt your clients to think deeply and open up. Unlike simple yes or no questions, they require and encourage a detailed response. The cardinal rule when it comes to coaching is that you should always listen more than you talk. So when you do talk, you'll want to choose your words wisely to maximize your impact and keep the space open and safe for your clients. To help you do this and make the most of your sessions, I'll share with you my top five mistakes that coaches make that impair high-mileage questioning. Number one, focusing more on the question than the answer. A common rookie mistake in coaching is to get too caught up in asking questions that sound great or asking the "Right" question instead of being fully present in the moment and letting your intuition guide. When you're preoccupied with forming your response to what a client's saying, you can't be fully tuned into them, and this makes it easy to miss out on important information. As coaches, we do this because we want to be as helpful as possible, but it usually ends up backfiring and then we end up asking a question that misses the mark. It may feel scary to clear your head instead of preparing your next move. I know. But active listening keeps you open and receptive to what will be most helpful to that particular client in that particular moment. You just have to take a leap of faith, and trust that you naturally know what to say because when you're tuned in, you will. This is way more effective than trying to steer the conversation to insert what you believe to be a really powerful question. Let me ask you this, when you're coaching a client, do you believe that there's one right perfect question for any situation, a question that can lead them straight to their core? New coaches often mistakenly feel compelled to search for, what I like to call, Holy Grail questions. A Holy Grail question is that mythical perfect question, the one that you imagine asking your client and then magically, suddenly everything clicks, and it's like a light bulb just went off in their head. But here's the truth, there is no one true question that will open up all the doors in your client's mind. This is something that is a result of a process. So when you get caught up in looking for this ideal magical question, what generally happens is that you end up awkwardly pausing and stumbling, and so the conversation loses rather than gains momentum. Holding the expectation that we can come up with the ultimate question places way too much power on ourselves as coaches. We don't have all the answers and this includes not always having the best questions. This is why it's counter-intuitive when coaches worry about not having all the answers. That's exactly the point. You don't know what's best for anyone else. Your job is to support your clients as they uncover their own answers. This is a process that unfolds at a client's own pace and willingness. So even if you think you have the best question to ask, if they're not ready to go there when you ask it, it'll have little impact in that moment. The best questions are the ones that really capture what's going on in the moment. Questions you ask when you're tuned in and paying full attention. If you're worried you're not asking the right kinds of questions or that you're missing the mark, my advice is just to ask. Incorporating feedback questions into your practice will help you tailor things appropriately while demonstrating to your client that you're invested in supporting them to the best of your ability. For example, if a client seems to be stumbling or stuck on your questions, you could say, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem confused by what I just asked. Do you need me to rephrase the question or maybe just try a different one altogether? I just want to make sure we're on the same page." Or at the end of a session, you can ask, "Was there a certain moment or aspect from our conversation today that you found to be most helpful?" Or "Does anything we covered in this session feel unclear or confusing?" All right, the next common mistake is giving advice that's masked as a question. As Health Coaches, we know the purpose of our questioning is to open up a space where clients can explore their own inner worlds, not a space for us to give advice. But despite knowing this, it's still really easy to fall into the trap of asking biased questions that lead in certain directions. When we do this, we're asking questions that are solution-oriented. Solution-oriented questions are really just suggestions or pieces of advice that have a question mark tacked on to the end of it. An example of this would be, if your client isn't following through with his commitment to go to the gym, and you say, "Could you try working out at home?" For starters, this is a closed question, but more importantly, what you're doing here, maybe totally well-intentioned, but you're leading the client in a direction that you want them to go in. And, ultimately, that's not helpful. Even if it is the best direction for them, they need to learn how to figure things out for themselves or else you're doing them a disservice. A tip here is to watch if you're asking questions that begin with would you, can you, should you, are you, don't you, pretty much anything followed by "You." These types of questions that lead by asking something of your client convey that you're trying to fix them, which is not your job. It's really important to always try to convey that you believe in your clients, not that you know better than them. So my advice to you here is that unless you're explicitly making a recommendation, always keep it on the client to identify a solution. If they haven't yet raised the idea of working out at home, don't say, "Can you try working out at home?" Instead, you could say, "If going to the gym isn't working for you, what do you think might?" Or "What's a more realistic way that you can incorporate some exercise into your schedule?" Solution-focused questions are tempting because they can propel the conversation forward, but you should always take the more scenic journey with your clients. This brings me to the next common mistake when it comes to questioning, rushing clients toward an answer or outcome. What coach doesn't want their clients to make progress, and experience significant gains in their program? We all do. You should always hope for the best for your clients, but that doesn't mean rushing or pushing them to get there. Slow and steady, definitely wins the race because for your clients to make meaningful, long-lasting change, they need to first uncover what's keeping them stuck, and what inner work needs to be done to make and sustain a lifestyle change. To do this, you need to allow them to come to their own conclusions at their own pace no matter what. If you find yourself asking a lot of questions that begin with why, your client seems overwhelmed or they seem unable to reach a conclusion despite your guidance, you're probably pushing them too fast. Why questions can be especially problematic because they can make clients feel judged or negatively challenged, and this can lead to defensiveness. A remedy for this is to shift away from why questions to what and how. For example, instead of asking, "Why do you binge at night," you could say, "What's going on for you in the evenings?" Or "What kinds of thoughts or feelings do you experience before you head into the kitchen at night to snack?" By asking gradual questions that allow your clients to lead at their own pace, you give them the opportunity to gain inner clarity in depth and detail. This allows them to own their process which makes them feel more in control to change it. So my best advice here is to be patient with your clients. If you're feeling frustrated and restless because you know exactly what's going on with this person and you think you know exactly what they need to do, it's not their problem, and you need to manage your own feelings of restlessness and sit with them while they explore at their own pace. Number four, asking leading questions. Leading questions have an agenda attached to them. They can be similar to solution-focused questions in that they take the client in a certain direction, but unlike solution-focused questions, they aren't necessarily disguised advice. The two types of leading questions that are most common are interpretive and rhetorical questions. Interpretive questions come up when we mistakenly attach our own meaning or biased perspective to what a client is saying, and we end up making an incorrect assumption. You can think of this as paraphrasing or reflecting gone wrong. For example, let's say your client Mary tells you, at length, that she's totally stressed out at work lately. She's annoyed with her boss and she hates being in the office. You ask, "So you're feeling ready to look for a new job?" Maybe she is, but maybe she's not. She never said that. It could be what she was getting at is that she needs a vacation or maybe just a productive chat with her boss. It's okay to be insightful and try to connect the dots with your clients, but you don't want to jump to your own conclusions. Otherwise, you run the risk of weakening the conversation and leaving them feeling like you don't truly listen to or understand them. A better question in response to Mary's work dilemma could've been, "What needs to change or shift for your work experience to improve?" Next, rhetorical questions are questions you don't actually want or expect an answer to. They're not really questions, rather, they're statements posing questions for them that you asked to make a point. Rhetorical questions are problematic because they imply judgment. They're used for effect, and this doesn't serve your clients. This typically leads to your client saying, "I don't know." An example of a rhetorical question would be like, if you asked, "How are you going to lose weight if you don't want to do what it takes to lose weight?" Questions like these don't do anything positive for your clients. You come off sounding judgmental, dismissive, and discouraging. If your knee-jerk response to something your client shares is a rhetorical question, pause and ask yourself, "Why am I forming this judgment?" Then remind yourself of this person's ability and reframe your question in a way that's encouraging and productive. So for our example, a reframe could sound like, "It sounds like losing weight is proving to be a difficult challenge for you. What would help you move forward?" Number five, rambling. Let's talk about rambling questions. With questioning, remember that less is often more. If you ask your client, "I'm wondering how you've come to believe that you're incapable of success, in spite of how many wonderful accomplishments you've shared with me like winning that business award, and running a marathon, so, you see, you're capable of success. So I'm wondering if you have any idea about when and how this might have started for you, and if we can use this insight to figure out what's holding you back, since it seems like this is a problem for you." Your client's going to be like, "What?" Because there is way too much going on here to digest. When you get nervous about trying to get your point across, so you start throwing in extra details and rephrasing your question, it actually gets more confusing because you end up going on a tangent and rambling. Despite the detail, long-winded questions simply are not as powerful as concise questions, and you run the risk of losing your client along the way. Try to ask your question in as few words as possible. You don't need to try to explain what you're getting at in three different ways. If your client doesn't understand your question, though either, ask for clarification or you'll see it in their face. Also, don't stack your questions. By this, I mean trying to roll several questions into one like, "When and where was the last time you binged? And what was the experience like for you?" Give clients the space to go deep by asking for one specific detail at a time. Finally, I want to mention that many of us have a tendency to ramble because of our discomfort with silence. We panic because we don't know what to say. So we fill the silence and start talking before we even know what the question is that we're asking. Remember, silence is good, so take your time. While you're forming your response, your client is processing. In that space, they may keep going and reveal something deeper, something unprompted, in which case, silence was actually your best response. All right, we've covered a lot of ground in this lecture, so let's recap. The top five mistakes that coaches make when trying to ask high-mileage questions are focusing more on the question than the answer, giving advice with solution-focused questions, rushing towards the outcome, asking leading questions, and rambling. Remember, there is no one perfect question, and it's not your job to know all of the answers. Focus on listening actively and tuning in to your clients, and you'll do fine. It's helpful to be mindful of these pitfalls that we discussed today, but don't beat yourself up if you make mistakes. We all do. If you ask a question that misses the mark or doesn't sound how you intended it to, just correct course and try again. You've got this. To help you further develop your high-mileage questioning skills, we've included a handout in the learning center called The Bio-individuality of Powerful Questioning. This handout will help you tailor your questions to clients based on how they process information. Cool, huh? Check it out next, and then be sure to complete the worksheet called Practice High-Mileage Questioning. We'd love to see your answers to this assignment. So when you're done, snap a picture of it and upload it to the Facebook group. Thank you so much for joining me today. See you in the next lecture.

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Posted by: integrativenutrition on Jul 6, 2018

Make the Most of Your High-Mileage Questions_Final

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