I was trolling Facebook the other day when I came upon a question in one of the coaching groups I belong to.
“How do we tell people what we do when most people don’t even know what life coaching is?”
After 20 years in this profession, I must confess it is disheartening to realize the truth of this question. Then, again, there a lot of professions where I have no idea what they do.
I have family members and dear friends that quite honestly…. I couldn’t articulate to you their actual job description.
This brought to my mind a more general question. What helps us connect with others even when we don’t know what to say?
I have discovered there are three basic steps that are the key to making a good connection with people.
One of the lessons I learned early on in my life coaching career was to ASK questions instead of telling people what I do. Asking a good question is a great way to engage with people whether professionally or personally.
There are three steps you can take if you really want to rock it out as a great connector.
ASKing a question is the key to connection. A good question opens people up and sparks their curiosity. A good question can make a person feel known and seen. A good question can begin an engaging conversation between two or more people.
A good question will get attention.
I will never forget the first time I really tried this out at a networking meeting at the urging of my business coach at the time. We had brainstormed the potential language my ideal clients might resonate with. My niche at the time was single women looking for a soul mate.
The question was not one that was natural to me but my coach encouraged me to try it out.
The Question: How many of you have – or know someone who has – a love life that’s in the toilet?
The words came out before I could even cringe from having used the word toilet in public!
Then, I saw the response in the room. Faces were turned toward me with anticipation, Hands were raised. The question had landed and opened these women up to want to know more.
Just last month, I found this is still the case as I ironically posed this question to a networking group.
Do you know how, when you’re at a networking event and someone says they’re a life coach, and you don’t know what it means?
Like magic, I had everyone’s attention. We all love a question that shines a light on a commonly held experience.
I also learned this lesson in a very different way when I began delivering sermons a few years ago. Even if I had something inspiring to say, I found that there came a time when the audiences’ eyes began to glaze over with all my TELLING.
A simple question such as, “Have any of you ever experienced this?” or “Do you know what I am talking about?” or “Does that make sense?”
Simple, but powerful, questions that engaged their minds was the key to having my audience stay awake so they could get value from what I was TELLING them.
Them, there are the personal questions. Questions that explore a person’s dreams and goals or to find out what excites or inspires them. The key is to ask those wondrous, open-ended questions that are intended to create connection rather than gather information.
Asking questions, not to get a right answer but to find out something about another person, is the key to connection.
The really good news about this is that asking questions can be easy. Simple questions are the best. Asking questions feels good to the ask-er and receiver.
There is a Step Two – of course – to the ASK Don’t Tell wisdom. Once you ask, it’s important to listen to the answer! Before any Telling happens, nothing feels better than to actually have someone listen.
In the case of a situation like mine where you ASK a question to engage in a conversation around your business, you want to listen for what the person really cares about. There may be a series of questions that come from their response.
Wait for them to ASK… before you tell them more. Now you have a giving and receiving loop going which is the highest level of connection. Once they ask you…. the TELLing part is easy and more questions, listening and conversation will naturally flow.
I promise if You ASK instead of telling and then follow the next two steps you will be amazed at the connections and conversations you inspire!
What are your keys for communicating when something is hard to explain? I would love to know? Send me your thoughts.
Or… you would like to ask me a question, please pop me a note!
[email protected] is where to send your email.