two men having a meeting in a parkPhoto by Medienstürmer on Unsplash

Last week I facilitated an online session on coaching for managers. I saw firsthand how the “managers’ mindset” is often to jump straight to problem-solving, without taking the time to understand a situation better. Sure, you make decisions faster, but that doesn’t mean those decisions are better.

The key to shifting away from this is curiosity. And it’s so simple: ask questions!

Coaching is questioning

If you can be curious about the people around you, such as your direct reports (and for that matter, your friends, family, and children…) you gain so much. In terms of connection, and also in terms of useful, actionable data. 

And if you’re going to ask questions, make sure to ask good questions. Open questions that help your counterpart think through a situation and their feelings. Don’t forget follow-up questions, so they have a chance to go deeper. And there’s another element you can use: silence. By not jumping into respond every time it looks like there’s a break, you provide more space for your colleague to process their thoughts and feelings and give more thoughtful responses.

So next time you have a meeting, spend more time asking open questions before shifting into problem-solving mode!

You’ll enhance your connection, learn stuff and quite likely make better decisions. That’s win-win-win, baby!