The Power Of Questions In Business (With Michael B. Stanier)

I had a chat with an author who has written 6 books, including one of my favorites, The Coaching Habit, which has sold over a million copies. 

I am, of course talking about Mr. Michael Bungay Stanier. 

Now in our chat we dive into seven of the most important questions to ask, why the advice monster doesn’t give you the authority that you think and what to do instead, and how to create perfect conditions to convert your prospects. 

So if you’re working directly with clients and want to learn questioning techniques to improve your conversions, relationships and project outcomes, then don’t miss this article.

I had a chat with an author who has written 6 books, including one of my favorites, The Coaching Habit, which has sold over a million copies. 

I am, of course talking about Mr. Michael Bungay Stanier. 

Now in our chat we dive into seven of the most important questions to ask, why the advice monster doesn’t give you the authority that you think and what to do instead, and how to create perfect conditions to convert your prospects. 

So if you’re working directly with clients and want to learn questioning techniques to improve your conversions, relationships and project outcomes, then don’t miss this article.

The Power Of Questions In Business (Michael Bungay Stanier)

One-click subscribe for video updates

How Michael Figured Out The Power Of Questions

Stephen Houraghan

Michael just a quick kind of overview not to kind of jump into your history from birth or anything like that.

But one area that I do have a lot of curiosity about is what you talk about the power of questions.

How do we get stuck in our head of getting caught in this advice trap when really questions are powerful. 

When and how did you figure out the power of questions?

 

Michael B. Stanier

I went to university and joined what is called lifeline which is a crisis telephone counseling service.

That was my first experience of learning, 

How to kind of ask a question, Knowing that the first answer is not their only answer and to kind of use questions, to deepen the conversation and get somewhere more interesting.

That’s where that seed got planted at the same time, cause I was a gangly awkward teenager, you’ll probably feel that, but I definitely was.

My mom was like look the way you become more interesting is you ask people questions because when they talk about themselves, they think you’re fascinating and interesting. 

So it’s also designed to be a way of me picking up women, which honestly didn’t work.

When I started working in London, I started noticing the rise of coaching on the west coast of the US, and when you live in London those weird hippies on the west coast.

I was intrigued enough when the company I was working with at the time, took me over to Boston to live and work.

I basically started thinking to myself or talking about myself as a coach and basically just started getting into a place where asking questions, was part of the work that I get. 

My first job was in the world of innovation and creativity, and I ran focus groups. So that’s actually asking questions and then I became a consultant and a good consultant asks a lot of questions.

So this has been a lot of practice about the power of staying curiosity built into my life from my brain wiring and my attempt to pick up women in my career path.

I can talk to somebody for an hour and effectively have them talk about themselves because I’m genuinely curious and I’m going to ask them questions. 

I love it when people disrupt that and make me talk about myself, I’m like you’re interesting and you’re good at this. This is good.

This is good and we’re off to a better, I like you more now because you’re genuinely curious about who I am. 

How To Do The Focus Question

Stephen Houraghan

Just on you’re The Coaching Habit, this is the book that’s influenced me the most.

You use seven fundamental questions which are broken down into just, just quickly 

The Kickstart Question

The Old Question

The Focus Question

The Foundation Question

The Lazy Question

The Strategic Question 

The Learning Question

I’d like to jump into a couple of these questions. 

I want to look at the focus question, the strategic question, and the learning question. 

If you’ve got a bit of time to do that, starting on the focus question, give us the premise of that?

Michael B. Stanier

So the focus question is what’s the real challenge there for you. 

The premise is the first challenge that shows up is never the real challenge and it’s rarely the only child. 

We are wired to one, to leap into advice, giving and solution providing, and so whipping out and all of that sort of stuff so that when somebody comes and goes, 

“Stephen, here’s the thing I’m wrestling with”

“You’re like, you know what? I know how to help fix that. And I want to help you.“

So you kind of get tempted to go into. But actually, if you build a reputation in your work or in your life as the person who always figures out the real problem, you just become immensely valuable to those around you.

Because in most organizations, big and small people are working really hard on the stuff that doesn’t really matter because it’s the stuff that presented itself first. 

So this ability, just to stay curious a little bit longer from the rush to action and advice, gives you a little bit more slowly.

Which is that kind of the definition I use around coaching, stay curious a little bit longer, stay curious about what the real challenge is.

It means that when you really figure out what the real challenge is, the answers I can only be actually really.

How To Know The Real Challenge

Stephen Houraghan

I find this really helpful in a prospecting stage where you’re helping them to get the challenge and if you can help them to verbalize their challenge, then you’ve really tucked into something where they go.

How do get this guy or  girl to what the real challenge is also, they often don’t know what their own real challenges are.

Michael B. Stanier

Add value to the conversation immediately 

I don’t want to just be a transaction for you where I give you advice. You buy a solution from me, I want to help you actually solve the problems that matter most to you.

So let me help you figure that out. Let me pick up on the 5 Why’s that you talked about because that’s very known. 

I find WHY as a question is tricky for because

When you ask somebody “why” it’s actually quite hard to ask that in a way that sounds generally curious and without an agenda. 

So often when you ask why it sounds like, what’s wrong with you or what’s your problem, or why haven’t you figured this out? It often comes quite loaded. 

So it’s a rare occasion that you can say why, and it doesn’t feel a little tense, whereas what’s the real challenge here as a more neutral, less triggering way of asking. 

Get The FREE PRO Brand Strategy BluePrint Now

Want to build brand strategies like a PRO?

Download this FREE BluePrint to get the EXACT FRAMEWORK used by TOP AGENCIES to build brand strategies for their clients.

Avoid the mistakes that 95% of amateur brand-builders make and create strategic brands like a PRO.

YES! I Want The BluePrint

Get The FREE Framework Template PDF Now!

Create Strategic Brands Like A PRO