Potholing and questioning

“You need a hobby” were the last words from my wife’s mouth as I left on an overseas trip. You see I’d been working all weekend preparing for my talk which is wrong, foolish and not good for the soul. Fortunately, on the plane, I browsed one of those flight magazines and came across an article on potholing. Fascinating

Now if you coach people or ask questions as part of your job, then you need to think about potholing.

Let me explain.

If you ask questions as a coach or consultative salesperson, you need to ask good questions, not dumb ones. Obvious that really.  Dumb questions get you nowhere.

Potholing involves exploring caves and holes in the ground. If you head down a narrow dead end, you have no choice but to re-trace your steps back to where you started.  If you find the right route, you can be rewarded with a cavern of stalagtites and stalagmites, wondrous scenery and numerous further vistas to explore. Faced with this cavern, you just have to keep exploring.

The same goes for coaching. Power questions give you enormous amounts of information and colour that allow you to continue exploring. A powerful question is expansive and opens up further routes to explore for the coach. A power question is one where you get that look from your coachee or client. They’re saying to themselves, “that’s a good question”, they look up and ponder the answer. And because you’re good at listening and nodding, they give you an enlightened answer which by the mere process of verbalising, has given them colossal value.

Here’s some tips to help you ask Power Questions:

  • Make them short, cut out all unnecessary words and don’t string them together
  • Abolish leading questions and long winded ones
  • Ask curious questions that evoke personal exploration not just information
  • Go very quiet when you’ve asked them, revel in the silent seconds

When I returned home a few days later, armed with gifts for the whole family I announced the best present of all.  “I’m going to join a pot holing club – The Gloucester Speleology Society, I’ve Googled them and they are welcoming new members”

And the response?  Well I daren’t tell you, it’s not publishable.  Oh well, back to the drawing board for my hobby.