Never Split the Difference- For professional coaches.

Coaching questions drawn from Chris Voss 

Never Split the difference

How cool is a former FBI hostage negotiator? I don’t remember how to ran across this book, but it has become a re-read yearly (actually, I re-listen yearly). As a former FBI kidnapping negotiator, Chris Voss’s book “Never Split the Difference” is a great resource for business. But as I listened to it, it dawned on me that many of his ideas are firmly grounded in the best practices of amazing coaches. Here are some quick takeaways.

1 Coaches can apply the Mirror principle.

Simply put, to keep someone talking and opening up, all you have to do is…

Use Voss’s “Jedi mind” trick. Repeat the last 2-3 words of what the client says as a question. This simple technique is amazingly effective at getting someone to go deeper into their thought pattern.

2, Coaches hear the client say… you’re right.

Coaches know when a client says “you’re right” that you have moved from coaching to mentoring or directing because the coach has contributed, not drawn out information. BTW, this isn’t the goal. We don’t want to hear, “you’re right” but “that’s right.”

A good “that’s right” comes from a good summary, without interpretation, of the argument made by the client.

3. Coaches never ask why….

“Why?” is a roadmap to counseling, not coaching. Why is subjective and can be altered with time.

4. Coaches sit with silence…

Silence is the coaches awkward tool. Most people do not enjoy silence and will enter the gap with new information, often self-revelatory.

5. Coaches avoid ego traps… 

“What do you think? You’ve got more experience than me.” Questions like these present ego-traps (my words, not Voss’s) to the coach to be able to assert their knowledge, experience and competency. A good coach recognizes this as a detour from the main issues. 

1.     Bad question: explain to me

a.     Good questions.. explore that idea

2.     Bad question: why did you?

a.     Good question… tell the story about when you… 

If you haven’t heard Voss, I encourage you to give his Ted Talk a listen, and then go get his book.

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