how questions can change our relationships

Helena Lopez – Unsplash

Hi, friends!

It’s been a while. I have not had the mental space to write clear thoughts for a long time. However, today is the day. I received the fun (and motivating) notification that this blog has had over 100,000 all-time views(!), and I finished a book that I liked a lot and want to share with you. When I share my learning with others, it sticks better with me, so thank you for helping me out by reading this post. The added plus is that I think you will learn things that are also helpful for you.

The book I finished is called “The Coaching Habit,” written by a coaching guru, born in Australia, now living in Canada, named Michael Bungay Stanier (MBS). He writes with humor and wit; the book is easy-to-apply practical and deeply wise.

The book’s premise is “say less – ask more” to tame your “advise monster.” Make it a habit to ask more questions.

Without this habit, we make people overly dependent on us, pick up work others would do, place ourselves “one up” on others, and give advice that isn’t truly helpful. I cringe when I think those things might be my effect at work. Even less do I want that to be true of me at home.

It takes COURAGE to ask a question
rather than offer up advice, provide an answer
or unleash a solution.

~ Brene Brown

Over the years, I’ve read other books on coaching, but this one is less of a “How to…” book and more of a “Why do I…” book. Stanier uses plain English to dig into our mindsets, neuroscience, and resistance to change. He understands the drivers, the triggers, and the heart behind what we do and guides us towards what we want to do instead.

This is not an “instant answer” book. It will not fix our tendency to think too highly of ourselves and our advice, but it can help.

When we ask questions, we value people
and we empower them to find the best solutions to real problems.

Stanier’s seven key questions are:

  • What’s on your mind? (allow the other person to set the agenda)
  • And what else? (often the first problem or solution is not the “real” one or the best one)
  • What’s the real challenge here for you? (help focus)
  • What do you want? (getting to the root of the issue)
  • How can I help? (don’t offer help – let them tell you what they want)
  • If you are saying YES to this, to what are you saying NO? (so very powerful)
  • What was most useful to you? (when they reflect, they remember)

I highly recommend the book, The Coaching Habit (also available in Spanish). Even more than that, I hope you will continue to grow your question-asking skills along with me and fight back the advice monsters that are running amuck in our world today.

Curiosity is powerful.

Now to practice.
What is your takeaway from this post? What was most useful to you?

**More from Michael Bungay Stanier: Box of Crayons and websites

learning by doing

Our Keith Webb workshop was so good! I am very grateful for my teammates who facilitated our training with excellence. I want to share two of my highlights with you.

1 – First, the workshop used adult-learning (andragogy) many times everyday. 

I enjoy attending trainings when the facilitator uses adult-learning principles. I also appreciate the opportunity to add some new creative ideas to my toolbox.

Some key adult-learning principles:

  • Honor the knowledge and experience of the audience
  • Allow the adult learners to self-direct their learning by planning – as much as possible – what content to cover
  • Make the workshop task or problem-oriented using realistic and relevant situations rather than content-oriented.
  • Use varied activities for multiple learning styles and information retention.

These are some of the creative adult-learning activities we experienced during the workshop:

  • Personal reflection time to record what we hoped to learn as well as our desired coaching topics before beginning the workshop
  • Practiced coaching in pairs, triads, and speed-rotating around the table
  • Coached on real life issues
  • Reviewed material by teaching it back to our peers
  • Acted out concepts, watched videos, worked in small groups, created metaphors, and asked for feedback to better learn the concepts
  • Summarized the highlights and action steps at the end of each day

2 – Second, the workshop demonstrated that even while stumbling through a new method and making many mistakes, people discovered break-through ideas that were encouraging and hope-filled.

Personally, I considered some of the deeper heart issues behind one of my struggles, cried, laughed, and left the workshop with practical and do-able action steps.

This is the power of coaching. When a coach asks powerful questions, listens with full engagement, helps move the coachee toward action, and trusts God to do the transformational work… great things happen!

How can you integrate some of these adult-learning ideas in your next training / teaching / workshop opportunity?

Again, to learn more about Keith Webb’s coaching model, you can buy the book HERE, read Keith’s blog, or look up one of his workshops via his website HERE. Highly recommended. 🙂

Other posts about Keith Webb’s coaching model: how’s that working for you? and want to be a good coach?


want to be a good coach?

Keith Webb's "The Coach Model"

Coaching values the coachee’s past experience, honoring his/her knowledge and
decision-making skills, and fostering ownership of chosen action steps. 

Keith Webb’s, The Coach Model, offers an excellent process that helps me to focus on coaching rather than talking, and enables me to help the persons I’m coaching discover solutions for themselves. You’ll notice that Webb’s five process steps spell COACH so that it easy for to remember. Here is a quick summary of how it works:

CONNECT — How are you?

A good coach begins the conversation catching up on anything that has been going on since the last time together. This “small talk” helps to build relationship trust and ensures there is no major distraction going on that might sabotage the discussion that day. An especially difficult situation may require rescheduling the appointment or simply acknowledging the trial may lessen the pressure enough to continue with the conversation.

During the Connect time, a good coach will also ask about previous action steps. The question, “What progress did you make on your action steps?” positively assumes progress, validates partial completion, and focuses on what worked well. This is also a great time to address any struggle or failure and help the coachee adjust the action steps if necessary.

OUTCOMES — What would you like to work on today?

Once the past action steps have been reviewed, it is time to for the coachee to state his/her desired outcomes for the meeting. A good coach helps the coachee by asking questions that narrow the topic enough to make progress in the time allotted. Some questions that help:

  • Explore: What might be the deeper issues? What do you want to achieve?
  • Clarify: What do you mean by…? Could you give me an example of…?
  • Focus: Which part of the problem would you like to work on today?

AWARENESS — What can you discover about this issue?

Once the coachee settles on a topic, a good coach asks lots of powerful, open-ended, questions to help the coachee reflect, increase perspective, and consider different angles that might be helpful.

A good coach will be careful to ask questions that benefit the coachee. For example, a coach doesn’t need to know all the details of past situations, so better questions focus on what the coachee wants to see in the future.

Tell me about the conflict.
What would excellent resolution of the conflict look like?

COURSE — What will you do this week to move forward?

Now it’s time for action! Once again good questions help the coachee generate a variety of possible action steps, evaluate the options, and then choose the best one(s). Using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely) goals ensures the coachee confirms the what, how, by when, and with-what-help details of the actions, increasing the follow-through.

HIGHLIGHTS —  What are your “take-aways” from our conversation?

“We build our brains by repeating things.” ~ Keith Webb

A good coach closes the conversation by asking summary questions for the coachee to review and repeat newly gained awareness or knowledge and useful or meaningful aspects from the appointment. This helps to embed the learning and give some feedback to the coach also.

If you want to learn more about this process and increase your coaching skills, I highly recommend Keith Webb’s book, The Coach Model. You can also follow his BLOG or attend one of his workshops.

I’d love to hear from you… What are your best tips for coaching well?  What process do you use for coaching? 


You might also like: how’s that working for you?a coaching process you can use, asking powerful questions,  or questions for a destination

how’s that working for you?

Photo by CloudVisual on Unsplash

Some of my worst experiences with people
had to do with me trying to convince someone else of my “great” idea.

In one way or another, I was displaying what Keith Webb calls my “know-it-all-ism”. It was not pretty, and it did not work nearly as well as I hoped it would. It often resulted in high resistance, defensiveness, or hurt feelings – none of which I intended, but I definitely caused that impact. Turns out, telling people what I think they should do doesn’t work very well for me at all.

I am reading Keith Webb’s book, The Coach Model, in preparation for a coaching training I get to attend soon. So far, the basic concepts are not brand new, but they are excellent reminders of key principles and practical helps. They have convicted me in many places and encouraged me in others. Rather than experience this range of emotions alone, I thought I’d share some of them with you!

First, a summary of the symptoms of “know-it-all-ism” – just in case you want to join me in the painful self-awareness process…

Keith explains that there are two types of “know-it-alls” – aggressive and passive:

aggressive know-it-alls:

  • are quick to speak
  • listen – until the other person takes a breath
  • have an answer for everything
  • win arguments, but lose respect

passive know-it-alls:

  • pretend to listen
  • maintain a smug facial expression
  • ask questions that subtly point out why the speaker is wrong
  • internally mock or criticize the speaker

Ouch. I am guilty of both of these.

How about you? Ever act like a know-it-all?

Thankfully, the book offers a better way. Keith Webb defines coaching as:

An ongoing intentional conversation that
empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.

This kind of conversation eliminates the need for me to know it all. It also releases me from the self-imposed responsibility of changing the other person or correcting whatever I feel that person is not handling correctly (yet).

A coaching conversation of this type puts the attention on what God has in mind for the person and allows it to happen in His timing – not mine. There is incredible freedom in this coaching. Keith writes that freedom often feels risky – like accompanying the person on an unknown journey – but at least it will be their journey, rather than mine. I’ll have less control, but I have a feeling that will work out better for both of us.

I’m looking forward to learning more from this book and from the training. I’ll share more in a next post – stay tuned!

discover and develop your strengths

coreclaritybannerI have a new passion. No doubt about it. I love coaching people through discovery of their talents and strengths. Absolutely love it.

Successful people
their talents and strengths
and build their lives upon them.

My husband and I attended a CoreClarity training last spring. That week prepared us to explain Gallup StrengthsFinder results for individuals and groups. This summer, we had numerous opportunities to coach family members, individuals, and couples.

Every time we talked through top talents with people, I watched eyes open wide in recognition, hearts soften with greater understanding, burdens of frustration and self-condemnation wash away, and hope reappear in the soul. 

It was amazing actually.

It is an encouraging experience to grow in self-awareness and self-acceptance, but it is even more powerful to grow in understanding and appreciating the important people in our lives. 

Successful marriages (or teams)
dont just accommodate differences in each other,
they capitalize on them.

If you have never done the StrengthsFinder assessment, I highly recommend it. There are specific assessments you can choose for adults, college and highschool students and even middle school students. After you receive your top five results, find someone trained in CoreClarity to review your results with you. You can do this for yourself, as a couple, for your family, or in a seminar format for your whole team.

You will learn :

  • why it is more important to develop your strengths, rather than focus on improving your weaknesses
  • how to develop your talents into strengths
  • to correct the myths that everyone thinks the same way we do or that everyone has the same talents we do plus what we see in them that we do not have
  • how your top talents affect each other and how your combination creates the unique you
  • how different talents intensify, combine, or collide with other talents
  • how talents understanding helps build and repair relationships, improves problem solving and teamwork
  • how to use your talents to enhance your career

You might also want to attend a facilitator training so you can coach others!

Do you already know your top talents? How have you applied that knowledge to your life and relationships?

Please leave me a comment if you have any questions about CoreClarity or StrengthsFinder. I’ll be glad to help in any way that I can!

preguntas para un destino

Roundabout Signage¿Has tenido alguna vez una conversación con alguien que sólo dio vueltas en círculos y terminó sin solución, pasos a seguir, o plan de acción? Eso está bien para algunas discusiones informales o ideológicas, pero una relación de coacheo ayuda al cliente a progresar hacia una meta.

Un proceso de coacheo efectivo comienza cuando el cliente (o cónyuge/hijo/compañero de trabajo/amigo) escoge una meta personal o profesional, y luego discute las opciones y barreras con la ayuda de preguntas abiertas y de sondeo de su coach. Una vez que el cliente escoge su mejor opción, es hora de dirigir la conversación hacia los pasos de acción.

Hace poco aprendí acerca de tres preguntas que el coach puede hacer para ayudar al cliente a avanzar: Directa, Reveladora y de Propiedad.

Preguntas DIRECTAS

Las buenas preguntas directas enfocan y retan, pero no amenazan ni juzgan. Son neutrales e indagan sin usar la culpa. Evitan usar la palabra “por qué”. Preguntan por acciones o decisiones y apuntan hacia un resultado positivo.

“¿Qué harás?” “¿Quieres enfocarte en XXX o en XXXX?”
“¿Qué has investigado?”
“¿Qué podrías necesitar hacer para garantizar una buena decisión?


Las preguntas reveladoras ayudan a las personas a “salir del molde” cuando se sienten estancadas e incapaces de avanzar. Ayudan al cliente a descubrir las limitaciones (limitaciones físicas, finanzas, temor, prioridades, falta de información, etc) que ellos ven como obstáculos que no se pueden cambiar y a buscar alternativas creativas.

“¿Qué pasaría si pensaras fuera de la estructura normal?”
“¿Quién más puede ayudarte?”
“¿Qué podrías hacer diferente para tener más recursos disponibles?”
“¿Que si tuvieras cuatro horas extra en tu día?”
“Si esa persona difícil no estuviese allí, ¿qué harías?”

Otra opción es ayudarles a imaginar una nueva situación sin barreras... “Que si tuvieras todo el tiempo que necesitas, ¿qué harías?” “Si no pudieras fracasar, ¿qué intentarías?” “¿cómo sería tu trabajo ideal?”

Preguntas de PROPIEDAD 

Las preguntas de propiedad ayudan a las personas a evitar culpar a otros y tomar responsabilidad por la acción. Ayudan a eliminar justificación, excusas y pasividad, y en lugar de ello, apuntan hacia oportunidades de crecimiento.

“¿Qué podrías haber hecho que contribuyera al conflicto”?
“¿Cómo puedes hacer mejor las cosas?” “¿Qué podrías hacer diferente?”
“¿Qué paso quieres dar?” “¿Cómo quieres hacerlo?”

Un último tip de ayuda o dos… Cuando tus clientes hablen acerca de los pasos de acción, ayúdales a ser tan específicos como puedan e incluye líneas de tiempo.

Por lo general, en una situación de coacheo, el coach simplemente está ayudando al cliente a recordar o usar su propia información y conocimiento existentes. Si, como coach, sientes que la situación requiere de tu aportación, ¡pide permiso antes de hablar!

“¿Podría desafiarte en eso?”
“¿Estarías dispuesto a escuchar una perspectiva diferente?”

¡Estas preguntas pueden ayudarnos a salir del dar vueltas sin sentido y llevarnos a nuestro destino!

¿Cuál de estas preguntas podría ser de más ayuda para ti?


Puedes encontrar la mayoría de estas preguntas y más en Coaching en Liderazgo por Tony Stoltzfus. ¡Recomiendo mucho el libro!

facilitar el cambio

IMGP0641 webCambio: actitudes del corazón, estilos de formación,
la cultura organizacional… y el mundo!

Acabo de regresar de una semana en Kenia, donde disfruté enormemente de un tiempo de transformación con 50 de nuestro personal africano – para ayudarles a aprender nuevos paradigmas y materiales de capacitación para usar con sus nuevos coordinadores. Hombres y mujeres, abuelos y jóvenes solteros llegaron de todas partes del continente: Ghana, Swazilandia, Etiopía, Níger, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Camerún, y muchos más… Ellos hablaban inglés y francés, además de muchas lenguas étnicas nacionales. Tenían más de 20 años de experiencia en la capacitación o ninguno. Ellos trabajan con los estudiantes, los profesionistas, las familias, los deportistas y las comunidades rurales.

Cómo ayudar a un grupo tan diverso desear, comprender y prepararse para el cambio? El cambio es difícil. El cambio es poderoso.

Comenzamos con la visión. Visión para ellos. Visión para su trabajo. Visión para la organización. Visión para el mundo. Hablamos acerca del valor, el privilegio y la responsabilidad que experimentamos cuando invertimos en la vida de los demás.

Estudiaron el carácter de aquellos que están dispuestos a cambiar – humildes, enseñables, aprendices de por vida, innovadores, miembros de equipo – y evaluaron su propio carácter…

Nuestro Equipo de Diseño demostraba el poder del trabajo en equipo, el aprendizaje de adultos, los métodos de enseñanza creativos, el proceso y los grupos de coaching, el liderazgo compartido, la libertad de fallar y el crecimiento en comunidad.

También hablamos sobre los retos y las barreras al cambio – sus propias luchas internas personales y las luchas organizativas: las tradiciones, la alineación de los demás, los recursos.

Nosotros modelamos y luego ellos practicaron con nuevas herramientas… enseñando nuevas lecciones, coaching uno al otro, lidiando grupos interactivos, dando y recibiendo la retroalimentación.

Todos comimos bien y dormimos poco; bebimos un montón de té; compartimos historias personales y oramos unos por otros. Nos hicimos amigos.

Juntos decidieron sobre los puntos de acción y los próximos pasos.

Nuestro staff tienen un largo camino por delante. El cambio no sucede rápido. No sucede con facilidad. Ellos se enfrentarán a la oposición, y se cansarán y frustrarán y desanimarán en el proceso.

Sin embargo, tengo esperanza para ellos. Están profundamente comprometidos con su gente y su propósito. Sirven a un gran Dios. Ellos le ayudarán unos a otros en una comunidad de aprendizaje. El cambio es saludable y necesario para el futuro.

Me siento honrado de haber sido parte de este tiempo. Espero ver lo que sucederá en el futuro.

¿Cómo respondes al cambio? ¿Cómo ayudas a su gente a prepararse para el cambio?

facilitating change

IMGP0641 webChange: heart attitudes, training styles, organizational culture… and the world!

I just returned from a week in Kenya where I greatly enjoyed a transformational time with 50 of our African staff – to help them learn new training paradigms and materials to use with their new staff. Men and women, grandparents and young singles, they came from all over the continent: Ghana, Swaziland, Ethiopia, Niger, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, and more… They spoke English and French, in addition to many national ethnic tongues. They had up to 20 years of training experience or none. They work with students, business professionals, families, athletes and rural communities.

How to help such a diverse group desire, understand and prepare for change? Change is hard. Change is powerful.

We began with vision. Vision for them. Vision for their work. Vision for the organization. Vision for the world. We talked about the value, privilege and responsibility we experience when we invest in others’ lives.

They studied the character of those who are willing to change – humble, teachable, life-long learners, innovators, team players – and evaluated their own…

Our Design Team demonstrated the power of teamwork, adult learning, creative teaching methods, coaching processes and coaching groups, shared leadership, freedom to fail, and growth in community.

We also discussed the challenges and the barriers to change – their own personal internal struggles and the organizational struggles: traditions, aligning others, resources.

We modeled, and then they practiced with new tools… teaching new lessons, coaching each other, leading interactive groups, giving and receiving feedback.

Everyone ate well and slept little; we drank lots of tea; we shared life stories and prayed for each other. We became friends.

Together they decided on action points and next steps.

Our staff have a long road ahead of them. Change does not happen overnight. It does not happen easily. They will face opposition, and they will get tired and frustrated and discouraged in the process.

But I have hope for them. They are deeply committed to their people and their purpose. They serve a great God. They will help each other in a learning community. Change is healthy and necessary for the future.

I feel honored to have been part of the time. I look forward to what will happen in the future.

How do you respond to change? How do you help your people prepare for change?

questions for a destination

Roundabout SignageHave you ever had a conversation with someone that went around and around in circles and ended without any resolution, next steps, or action plan? That might be OK for some informal or ideological discussions, but a coaching relationship helps the client make progress towards a goal.

An effective coaching process begins with the client (or spouse/child/co-worker/friend) choosing a personal or professional goal, and then discussing options and barriers with the help of open and probing questions from the coach. Once the client chooses their best option, it is time to move the conversation towards action steps.

I recently learned three types of questions that the coach can ask to help the client move forward: Direct, Revealing, and Ownership.

DIRECT Questions:

Good direct questions focus and challenge, but do not threaten or judge. They are neutral and inquire without using guilt. They avoid the word “why”. They ask for action or decision and point toward a positive outcome.

“What will you do?” “Do you want to focus on XXX or on XXXX?”
“What investigation have you done?”
“What might you need to do to ensure a good decision?”

REVEALING Questions:

Revealing questions help people “get out of the box” when they feel stuck and unable to move forward. They help the client discover the limitations (physical limitations, finances, fear, priorities, lack of information, etc) they view as unchangeable obstacles and look for creative alternatives.

“What if you thought outside of the normal structure?”
“Who else could help you?” “What could you do differently to free up new resources?” “What if you had four extra hours in your day?”
“If that difficult person wasn’t there, what would you do?

Another option is to help them imagine a new situation without the barrier… “What if you had all the time you needed, what would you do?” “If you couldn’t fail, what would you try?” “How would your perfect job look?”

OWNERSHIP Questions:

Ownership questions help people avoid blaming others and take responsibility for the action. They help take away justification, excuses, and passivity, and instead lead to growth opportunities.

“What might you have done that contributed to the conflict?”
“How can you make things better?” “What might you do differently?”
“Which step do you want to take?” “How do you want to do that?”

A last helpful tip or two… When your client talks about action steps, help them be as specific as possible and include timelines.

Usually, in a coaching situation, the coach is simply helping the client recall or use their own existing information and knowledge. If, as the coach, you feel the situation requires your input, ask permission before you speak!

“Can I challenge you on that?”
“Would you be open to hearing a different perspective?”

These questions can help us get out off of the roundabout and on to our destination!

Which of these questions might be most helpful to you?


Many of these questions and more can be found in Leadership Coaching by Tony Stoltzfus. I highly recommend the book!

preguntas de impacto


¿Haces preguntas de impacto?

Durante las últimas semanas he estado aprendiendo acerca de escuchar activamente; ahora estoy aprendiendo acerca de cómo hacer buenas preguntas. Nuevamente, me sentí confrontada y retada por todo lo que puedo mejorar, especialmente si quiero mostrar respeto y permitirle a la otra persona proponer sus propias respuestas. 

Soy especialmente desafiada a observar esta actitud clave… ¿Tengo el mejor concepto de la persona y de su habilidad para resolver su(s) propio(s) problema(s), o simplemente quiero que haga lo que yo quiero que haga?

Es posible que ya reconozcas algunas de estas preguntas, pero si eres como yo, habrán algunas nuevas en la lista y/o algunas que puedes utilizar con más frecuencia… ¡disfruta el repaso!


Una pregunta cerrada es aquella que puede ser contestada solamente con una simple respuesta de “sí” o “no”. No invita a ir más allá en la conversación o compartir con profundidad. Por otro lado, una pregunta abierta no tiene respuesta correcta o incorrecta, y puede ser contestada de muchas maneras diferentes.

SUGERENCIA CLAVE: Casi todas las preguntas cerradas pueden convertirse en una abierta al añadir “cómo, “qué, “cuál o “quién” al inicio. 

Ejemplos: “”¿Realizaste tus pasos a seguir esta semana?” “No.” (Cerrada)

“¿Qué hiciste para realizar tus pasos a seguir esta semana?” ….. (Abierta)


Las preguntas orientadas a la solución por lo general son bien intencionadas, pero en realidad son sólo respuestas predeterminadas en forma de pregunta. (¡Ésto fue muy desafiante! Sé que con frecuencia estoy intentando saber cómo resolver la situación mientras escucho. 😦 ) Una pregunta más amplía le permite a la otra persona hacerse cargo de pensar en las soluciones.

Ejemplos: “¿Qué te parece tomar un curso en eso? (Orientada a la Solución)

“¿De qué manera podrías aprender más acerca de eso”? (Más Amplia)


Las preguntas de sondeo exploran y reúnen mayor información. Son neutrales y ayudan a que la persona se mantenga hablando.

Sugerencias Claves: Evita las preguntas “¿Por qué hiciste…?” y recuerda que el 80% del “tiempo aire” es para la persona a quien estás coacheando. Sólo el 20% es para el coach.

Ejemplos: “Dime un poquito más acerca de eso.”

    “¿A qué te refieres cuando dices ___________?”

    “¿Cómo te hizo sentir eso?”

Si pruebas algunas de estas preguntas esta semana, ¡hazme saber cómo te fue!

¿Qué otras preguntas agregarías a esta lista? (¡Observas mi amplia y abierta pregunta de sondeo 🙂 )

** Estás son buenas preguntas para motivar el proceso de pensamiento. ¡La próxima semana veremos unas preguntas que se usan para ayudar a las personas a realizar pasos de acción!