Executive coaches are highly touted as great listeners and questioners. These two skills are not reserved for the credentialed coach. Listening and questioning are core skills for the CEO to the mid-level manager and to the front line customer service agent. The problem is we are being told that we must speak to add value. Instead, the greatest value we can offer is to listen and dig deeper through questions to assist the speaker to solve problems, deal with stress and determine a path forward.
We experience our value when another takes an interest and asks us questions. How many times have you noticed that the employee just needed to share the challenge or process the emotion to gain clarity? This is actually a well-studied phenomenon, which is called emotion focused coping. Processing the emotion of stressful situation or experience unleashes the tension into the air in which it is processed. You have probably seen this in your own career, once you get it out through words it vanishes from our bodies and a calm ensues.
Leaders you need to better at this. Yes, results matter – bottom line, return on investment, revenue and gross profit. Yet, you will not experience these results unless you truly listen to your team. You become a vehicle that drives their stress away just by creating the space.
Questioning leads your team to another studied phenomenon called problem focused coping. This process assists a person in exploring options to navigate a stressor. Questions like what is the problem? What are you considering? How do you want to respond? helps the person get at the problem.