Summary of The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

In this book, Michael Bungay Stanier gives us a simple and easy way to build a coaching habit, that is, a daily, informal approach to helping others unlock their potential.

“The change of behaviour at the heart of what this book is about is this: a little more asking people questions and a little less telling people what to do” (17).

By learning to ask the right questions (rather than just telling others how to think), you can deliver effective coaching in 10 minutes or less.

To start a coaching session, begin with these 2 questions:

The Kickstart Question: “What’s on your mind?”

  • An easy way to turn a casual check-in into a meaningful & focused conversation.

The AWE Question: “And What Else?”

  • This safe & easy follow up question leads to more insights, self-awareness and more possibilities.

If the conversation is getting off-topic or you’re getting lost, ask them:

The Focus Question: “What’s the real challenge here for you?”

  • This question will help you slow down any sense of rushing to action & ensure that you are attacking the real problem.

The Foundation Question: “What do you want?”

  • This question helps you identify the real need that likely lies behind the person’s initial request.

If the person is just complaining about the situation rather than seeking an answer, ask them:

The Lazy Question: “To help me understand better… How can I help?”

  • The question “How can I help?” forces them to make a direct and clear request & prevents you from thinking that you know how best to help and thus leaping into action.

When the discussion turns into a determining whether to choose a certain course of action, ask them:

The Strategic Question: “If you are saying ‘Yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘No’ to?”

  • This brings clarity and commitment to their ‘Yes’, rather than a half-hearted agreement or misunderstanding about what to do.

To end a coaching session, ask them:

The Learning Question: “What was most useful for you”?

  • People don’t really learn when you tell them something. Rather, the path to learning happens when they have a chance to recall and reflect on what just happened.

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