Yesterday I asked a question I’ve never asked a client before. “What’s the bravest thing you could do today?”
His thinking shifted. His eyes went first to the ceiling and then around the room.
My job as a coach is giving leaders a moment to look at themselves in new ways. It often feels like new shoes.
When confronted with a potential shift in thinking, people say things like:
- I don’t know.
- I’m not sure.
- I’ll have to think about that.
- I’ve never thought of it that way before.
When thinking shifts:
#1. Embrace the awkward silence. Don’t interrupt someone’s shift in thinking by blabbing. Give them space to reflect. Don’t pressure people. Relax.
Old patterns of thinking feel safe, even if they aren’t working.
#2. Listen to reasons for not acting boldly, but don’t explain why they should. The first thing people do when thinking shifts is find reasons why they should stay the same.
People explain why it won’t work before they find reasons why it will.
The worst thing you can do is answer for them. They need to convince themselves. Stop answering all the reasons people give for playing it safe.
You’ve answered someone’s concern only to encounter a new reason why something won’t work. The issue isn’t logic. It’s fear.
An excuse is the reason why an unsatisfying present should stay the same.
#3. Nudge people toward the edge.
- I see what you can’t do, what could you do? (Say, “You,” not, “We.”)
- How important to you is moving this issue forward? Explore purpose and priorities.
- What would you like to try?
- What’s the bravest thing you could do today?
How might leaders bring teams or individuals to a shift in thinking?
What questions might help people see themselves in new ways?