The Self-Coaching Skillset

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On today’s episode of Inner Warmup, we are continuing with November’s mini series on self-coaching. Taylor teaches how to cultivate a self-coaching skillset, specifically what kind of questions are most supportive to to ask ourselves.


(Hint : the answer is not simple yes or no questions).

Mentioned In The Episode

Tune in to the first episode of this mini-series here.

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Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Inner Warmup where your inner work begins. I'm Taylor Elyse Morrison, creator of Inner Workout. And you as always are our expert guest. Thanks for being here today. This month's episodes are brought to you by our sister company, Gateway Coaching. It's coaching that works for your budget. We make coaching more accessible by pairing you with coaches who are on their certification and credentialing journey. So we're able to offer you quality coaching at a fraction of the price. If that interests you, you can learn more by checking out the link in the show notes or going to Gateway.coach.

Now let's get into today's content. So if you've been listening, you know that we're in a series on self-coaching. We started by talking about the mindset of self-coaching, and this is building on each other. So if you haven't listened to that episode, you might want to go back and listen if you haven't already. This week's episode is about the coaching skillset. But there's this big misconception that coaches give advice, that that's what coaches do. And I thankfully have been around coaching for a while. And so when I was going into coach school, I knew that I wasn't going to be trained to be giving advice. But I was still pretty surprised by the byproduct of my coach training. Not only was I not taught how to give advice. Again, that's not the point of coaching. I was actually so much less inclined and interested in giving advice overall. I also realized how much people love to give unsolicited advice. But that's a story for another episode. I have a lot of thoughts on unsolicited advice. But what came out of my coach training is that I was so much more curious. I found myself wanting to ask more questions, better questions, deeper questions. And that, my friends, is the skillset that you are going to develop as you hone your self-coaching skills. You got to learn how to ask better questions. And the best questions, in my opinion, have two qualities. They're open ended and they're open minded. Let's start with open ended. So open ended as opposed to closed. You could probably guess that even if you didn't even know what the opposite is. But it's like we open a door or we close a door. That's what's happening with our questions. When a question is open ended, it's like we are opening the door to possibility, to better conversations, to the conversation continuing at all. But when we're asking closed questions, we're like, making things really narrow. Or we might be closing off the conversation and saying no, we're not continuing at all. Think about this, for example, if we're talking about dinner, how differently would things go if I say "do you want Thai food for dinner?" That's a yes or no question. And the only option I'm giving you is Thai food. If you say yes, cool, that we move forward. But what if you say no, no, I don't want Thai food. Where do we go from there? I have to ask a better question right? I have to ask you what you do want or why you don't have a taste for Thai food. Or if you'd like to stay in instead. There's a lot of follow up questions because that leading question, that question I started with, do you want Thai food for dinner was pretty closed. A question that I might ask instead is, what do you have the taste for for dinner tonight? And then you might say, you know what? I am really craving a grilled cheese sandwich tonight. And I'd say Ooh, that sounds delicious. How do we want to go about that? I mean, I know how to make grilled cheese. I can make it at home. But I know a restaurant around the corner that makes really good grilled cheese. Are you interested in that? and all of a sudden we're having a conversation and we can talk about what makes a good grilled cheese. It opened the door to a better conversation.

So I started with a pretty benign question. Just to give you the example of open versus closed. But another example, think about what would happen if you're journaling. Because this shows up not just in conversation with other people, but also in conversation with ourself. And again, this is our self-coaching school. So I want you to have a good example of this. If you tried to journal around the question, should I quit my job, where does that take you? I know for me when I do yes or no questions, I just get almost into this paralyzed because I'm journaling about it because I don't know, right? I don't know if I should quit my job, or if I should not quit my job. So for me, and this might be a different for you, I'd be curious. But for me, it just leaves me again, in this paralysis of I don't know, should I quit my job? Should I not quit my job? So I'm just gonna stand here and have my pen hovering above the page? Probably not even writing anything other than the question, Should I quit my job? Really, really closed question there. As opposed to a question like, What do I want to be true in my work life? What do I want to be true in my work life? And then I could think, Hmm, it's really important to me, for my work to feel valued. I want to have a good relationship with my manager, I don't want to feel like I have to take work with me when I close my laptop for the day. I'd like a job where I can travel. And then all of a sudden, I'm having all of these thoughts around what I want in my work life. And then from there, you can ask follow up questions. You could think, Okay, how much of this is true in my current job? And then if I were coaching this person, then I would want to know, okay, for the stuff that isn't true, could you change any of it? Is there a possibility that you can make shifts? Or is it fixed the way it is? But that first open ended question can really shape the way that we engage with ourselves, especially in a self-coaching context. So open up your questions. And that doesn't mean that there is never a place for closed questions. Those can be great when you are narrowing and honing in. But when we're starting with the self coaching, we want to start from a place of open endedness. I don't know if that's a word, but I just made it up. It's a word now - open endedness. The other sense of openness that we need is questions that are open minded. And if you'll recall from last week, part of your job as a self coach is not to have an agenda. Speaking from personal experience, we can tend to use questions to sneakily lead ourselves to choose from if it were a test, to choose from a set of multiple choice questions where I can either do A, B or C, when in reality, there's actually an option for you to write in your own answer. This always happens before recording days that something happens where I become my own example. This literally happened yesterday. I was in a coaching session. And I framed an entire session around the fact that I had to be the one to move to projects forwards. It was me, I had to do these things. And I had to figure out how I could essentially make it work for me to do everything myself. And because that's how I kept framing it, the coach just kind of went along with me. And it was a pretty short session too. So they were just trying to get me to make progress on my stated goals. And I kept feeling kind of stuck, like I was generating ideas. But it didn't feel the resonance that I sometimes have after a coaching session. And then after I left the session and, I was reflecting on what the action steps that I had come to from it. And I realized, wow, I framed this whole situation in a really limited way. And when I shifted the framing of the situation, I realized that I actually don't have to be the only person who can move these two projects forward. I could actually bring in external support and still achieve the same goal that I had. But because there was really limited framing of the situation on my part, I kept getting this choice that it felt like I was squeezing myself into an option. When the reality was that there was something totally outside of my perspective that was possible.

When you're self-coaching, that's your job for yourself. You're inviting possibility. You're not the one who's saying it's ABC. You're saying, oh, you know what, there's actually an other answer here. And you can type in whatever you want. When I'm doing this for myself in a self-coaching context, I return to questions like, if there were no rules, what would I do? Or if I had a magic wand, what would I change about this situation? Or sometimes really simply, I just ask myself, what's possible? Not what is feasible, not what is practical, not what fits the constraints in my mind, but what is possible. So these are the two skillsets that I want you to develop around asking questions in a self-coaching context. You want them to be open ended, and you want them to be open minded. It's your turn now. I want you to think about a situation that you're navigating and then frame up a question that is both open ended and open minded and spend a moment reflecting on it. Here's the question that I'm going to sit with during our time of reflection. What could it look like to have more fun during the workday? Okay, I'm handing it over to you to reflect, to come up with an open ended and open minded question and I'll see you in a couple of minutes to close us out.

Thanks for taking the time to reflect with me. You've started to develop your coaching skillset of open minded and open ended questions. Hopefully you're still leaning into that coaching mindset. And next week, we're rounding it out with your coaching toolset. I hope you're feeling more equipped to do self-coaching on your own and if you want the support of a coach at a more affordable price, I hope you'll check out Gateway Coaching. Thank you so much for your time and thanks as always for your expertise. Take care.

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