Coaching Series: Impactful Communication

Uploaded by GoogleTechTalks on 07.02.2008

>> HIGGINS: Hi, I'm Lesly Higgins. >> GILLIS: And I'm Greg Gillis.
>> HIGGINS: And we are corporate coaches and we are coaches here at Google. And we're going
to give you a presentation and some practice with some tools on impactful communication.
Let me start with some introductions. First, we're here as part of Coaches Week at Google.
And I don't know, it might be good to just give you an overview of, so, what is coaching?
And there's lots of definitions of coaching and there's even lots of kinds of coaching.
The kind of coaching that Greg and I do and the coaching that's done at Google is really
what we call corporate or business or executive coaching. So, it tends to be usually around
your leadership and interpersonal effectiveness. And the way I describe coaching is, it's a
leadership development program that is custom tailored to your individual strengths and
business objectives and it's something that happens overtime because a lot of us, we might
go to the best class in the world including classes that are here at Google. We learn
some really great tools, we come away with great intentions and then we go back to our
job and life happens and we veer back to our habits. So coaching engagements tend to happen
over a three to six month period so that you got lots of time to learn and implement new
behaviors. >> GILLIS: And a lot of clients that Lesly
and I work with are successful people. And I think the majority of our clients are very
successful in their jobs. What you find is that you move on in your job and as you get
promoted and as you get more responsibility, the things that worked really, really well
for you in the beginning, may not work so anymore. And a lot of times, you're wondering,
how do I change now? We're all superstitious. We were successful doing these things to get
here. Now, how do we shift to do different things? We kind of want to hold on to the
things that got us the point we're at. So, coaching a lot of times is moving to the next
level and knowing what to let go of, what doesn't necessarily work well anymore.
>> HIGGINS: One of the times that I was coached and I was coached three times before I made
a career change was at a point where I had moved to the vice-president level. I was actually
working at Charles Schwab and running one of the technology organizations and I had
gotten promoted because I was a really good project person. Really, really effective at
mobilizing resources and often doing things that had--no one can even imagine we could
do. And when I became the vice-president, it was sort of like, everything that had gotten
me to that point was no longer the things that I needed to be doing. I was managing
a more senior team, I needed to adjust my style from being less directive and more influential.
I needed to think about how to build my relationships and my sphere of influence in a cross functional
nature. And my boss at that time told me, "Lesly, you need to make this shift from being
a really great supervisor to a really great leader." And it wasn't until I worked with
the coach who could help me figure out how to do that, what does that mean, how do I
change behavior. It was until I work with a coach that I was successful in making that
change. >> GILLIS: So, let's move on and talk about
some of these things. First, we want to do a little bit more of introduction of who we
are. >> HIGGINS: Yes. So, Greg and I have known
each other for a long time in our prior careers and in our current carriers as coaches. And
we each come from the business world originally. So, I started my career out as a software
developer and moved up the ranks in the management and ultimately executive positions at Charles
Schwab and was VP of Software Engineering at Commerce One before they went public. I've
been coaching and I also do some organizational development or team building type work since
1999 and I've been coaching at Google for, I think it's been about five years. Have a
lot of different clients--Greg and I have a lot of clients in common. But the--majority
of my clients are technology organizations or organizations that are very, very dependent
on technology to run their business. >> GILLIS: And my career started in sales.
I was technology sales on various companies. Xerox to begin with, Silicon Graphics, Netscape
and then Commerce One where I met Lesly. We're both in the company about the same time. My
career in sales allowed me to be in hundreds of different companies, hundreds of different
environments and different decision making processes. It was interesting to learn how
relationships were formed. How power was manifested in different companies. Just the ability to
be working with them, so many different companies really helped me in my coaching career. I
went to coaching in 2001. I've had a lot of--a lot of companies that I work with, mainly
all in the Bay Area. I'm a professional and certified coach through ICF and I was on the
board of the Professional Coaches and Mentors Association in Northern California for two
years. What is Impactful Communication? We're going to give you our definition. Does anyone
have a definition coming in here? What that might be? Would you want to share? We're going
to give you a demonstration of what we think it is and isn't. Yes, sorry.
>> FEMALE: I would ask a question. Is it different than effective communication?
>> GILLIS: The question is, "Is it different than effective communication?" I think very
similar. Yes. >> HIGGINS: And I think the reason we chose
the word impact is to really think about something that is effective and perhaps is really helpful
in allowing you to further your agenda and objectives.
>> GILLIS: Yes. >> FEMALE: [INDISTINCT] there seem the new
one's different. >> HIGGINS: Yes. Thanks.
>> GILLIS: So, we're going to give you a role play demonstration of two different kind--two
different scenarios, okay? Lesly, Lesly. >> HIGGINS: Yes, yes.
>> GILLIS: I need to talk to you. >> HIGGINS: Yes. Yes, what is it?
>> GILLIS: Project Zebra is--we're two weeks behind.
>> HIGGINS: Yes. Okay. No. >> GILLIS: I know. I'm upset too.
>> HIGGINS: I can't--I--Greg I now have to take care of this. Could we talk another time?
>> GILLIS: But we're two weeks behind and I...
>> HIGGINS: Yes. I know. I know. But this is even more urgent. Isn't that--it's good
to see you. You know I'm--you know--you know, I'm there for you. But, you know, I got--I
got something a little more urgent to take care right now.
>> GILLIS: I'll--I'll come back later. >> HIGGINS: Okay.
>> GILLIS: Okay. Now, we're going to do another demo of the same situation a little bit differently,
okay? Lesly? >> HIGGINS: Yes?
>> GILLIS: I need to talk to you. >> HIGGINS: Yes.
>> GILLIS: Since you're my boss now. I need to let you know that we're two weeks behind
on Project Zebra. >> HIGGINS: Yes. No. No.
>> GILLIS: Lesly, I really need you to pay attention to this. This is really important.
>> HIGGINS: Okay. >> GILLIS: Thank you. Because we lost those
two engineers last week and they went to that other project. I just reanalyze where we are.
We're at least two weeks behind and I'm going to need more resources and since you're my
boss, I thought you could help me, you know, pull in some more resources to this project.
>> HIGGINS: More resources? >> GILLIS: Yes.
>> HIGGINS: So, you're pretty sure it's--it's two weeks?
>> GILLIS: It could be 10 days. But it's--it's--we're out there right now.
>> HIGGINS: And you're--you're pretty sure that more resources is what's required to
get us back on track? >> GILLIS: That's what I thought about, yes.
>> HIGGINS: Yes. Is there--are there any other options that you considered, you know, I mean,
I don't know--I can make the case for resources. But I can't guarantee we'll get them. Anything
else that we might be able to offer? >> GILLIS: We could cut some feature set.
>> HIGGINS: Yes. >> GILLIS: There's certain things that don't
matter right now that I think if we could cut those out, no one would notice.
>> HIGGINS: Yes. >> GILLIS: We can add them later.
>> HIGGINS: Yes. And it sounds like you think being able to deliver the full set of features
that we committed to in getting more resources to do that is the better way to go?
>> GILLIS: Yes. Yes, I do. >> HIGGINS: Okay. So, what do you need from
me? >> GILLIS: I need at least two more engineers.
>> HIGGINS: Okay. >> GILLIS: Could you pull them from somewhere
else? I need them on the project. >> HIGGINS: Okay. All right. Can you follow
up with some--with a name and then just document. >> GILLIS: I'll give you an e-mail with the
details. >> HIGGINS: Okay. All right.
>> GILLIS: Thanks a lot for your time and I appreciate it.
>> HIGGINS: I'll go--okay. All right. Thanks for letting me know.
>> GILLIS: All right. Thanks. >> HIGGINS: Okay.
>> GILLIS: Okay. That first one just upset me--even acting it. What were the differences
there? Does anyone have any feedback for us? And what was different between the first one
and the second one? Yes? >> MALE: The second one, they actually engage
to her in a conversation rather the two people occupying the same space...
>> GILLIS: Yes. >> MALE: ...not really interacting.
>> GILLIS: He asked for her attention and wasn't just pushed out of the room. What did
she do differently? >> MALE: She listened.
>> GILLIS: What's that? >> MALE: She listened.
>> FEMALE: Close the laptop. >> GILLIS: Yes. Close her laptop. Which is
a big thing. She's in the middle of fire, a big fire. So, that's an example, we're going
to give you what our definitions are and then just sort of play back the example that we
just went through. So, we say that impactful communication, it makes a difference. There's
a lot of communication that goes on. "Hi, how was your weekend?" "My weekend was fine,
how was yours?" "It was fine." "Bye." "See you." That's not really impactful. It doesn't
really make much of a difference. Every communication does not need to be impactful. So, we're not
standing up here saying, every communication needs to be impactful. What we're drawing
a distinction on is, when you do make--you need to make an impact. There are certain
things you need to be aware of. It affects the relationship. So, an impactful communication
will affect the relationship one way or the other. It might make it stronger and it might
make it weaker. It connects you with the thoughts and feelings of other people. In other words,
it employs some empathy. When she closed her laptop and looked at me. I felt connected
to, even though I was play acting on this role. She connected with me. For the first
time she was just blowing me off. We were not connecting. And the third one it says,
a mutual understanding. It allows problem solving--solving in creative thinking to occur.
So without that mutual understanding it's very hard to do creative thinking. She helped
me brainstorm a different way of thinking about the solution which is maybe I--we cut
feature set versus just adding more engineers. >> HIGGINS: So, impactful communication. We
also feel it's our experience as executives and coaches. Is that your ability to get things
done is directly related to the impact of your communication and your ability to relate
with people. >> GILLIS: Some coaching communications that
Lesly and I run into often is, as executive coaches, are some of the things we put up.
And this is just a small subset of some of the things we talk to clients about. We like
to think about them as two different things, you got skill layer things which are; I need
to be a better presenter. I want to have better writing skills. I want to manage my e-mail
better. These are a lot of things you can go to training classes for and learn about.
There's also the second level which is behavioral related things. And we can kind of think of
these as, you know, the server layer and the application delivery layer or the OS layer
and the application layer. When you get down to behavior, power, influence, presence or
showing up. Lesly showed up during the demonstration. First time, she didn't show up. She was involved
in an e-mail discussion or work. Confidence, empathy, conflict, these all happen at a behavioral
level. And as coaches we work at both levels. When we work with someone who says I'm having
trouble with my presentation skills. First question we're going to ask is, what have
you tried? Well, I took presentation skills 101. I took video tape presentation skills
201. I read three books and I joined the, you know, speaking class. If it's still a
problem, we're probably looking at something in the behavioral area. Maybe it's confidence,
maybe it's just showing up a different way. So, that's how we differentiate these two
different areas. And today the experience--we're going to do some experiential work on showing
you different techniques. Mainly down behaviorial area, mainly in the operating system area.
But as a coach again, we may recommend that someone take a class in this area. While we're
working with them on behavior, there might be both things going on.
>> HIGGINS: Do some integration of both aspects. >> GILLIS: Yes.
>> HIGGINS: So, we're going to introduce--hopefully, if we manage our time well. Several tools
that we've used in our work with clients and give you some opportunity to understand and
work with the tool, actually something experiential and our goal is to give you some things that
you can go away and apply this afternoon in your work here. So...
>> GILLIS: So, the first exercise we're going to do is called Centering. And what it is,
is what Lesly did when I asked her to pay attention to me. When she closed her laptop
and she took a breathe, she did something and then she showed up. She was actually listening
to me. What did she do? You know what is this centering? I like to just boil it down and
say it's showing up. You actually show up for that communication. You're not doing a
million other things or one other thing. You're actually showing up and that's a decision
you make to show up for that particular communication, that particular meeting or e-mail maybe really
important. And how do you do that? How does that happen? For example, here at Google what
if you're in a meeting where you're manager tells you that your particular project's going
to get cut? Maybe something you worked on your 20% time, you put nine months into it.
It's something you're passionate about, really important to you. And you go into meeting
and your boss says, "We just can't support this. It doesn't have any bearing on product
development. It's not going to happen." Right after that meeting you got to meet a critical
person who you're interviewing to join the team. Someone is being recruited to Google
and you have to really interview this person and show up. You leave this one meeting where
you're completely upset and aggravated. And you got to walk, maybe 30 seconds to the next
conference room and have a next meeting. How do you shift into showing up to the next meeting?
And that's what we're going to talk about. Does anybody here snowboard? Has anybody snowboarded
before? Yes. >> HIGGINS: A few people besides you I see.
>> GILLIS: Few people besides me. So, the analogy I have of snowboarding was I decided
I wanted to snowboard. Some friends said, "We'll take you," and they took me. And we
got to the resort. Went to Northstar, I rented my stuff. They told me how to strap the board
on. They got me on a chairlift. I got to the top and fell off and they said, "Do this.
Just watch us." And they went and I was left there with all the stuff and I had no idea
what to do about this. So, three or four hours later, I was done. I was bruised. I was so
sore. I thought I'm never going to do this again. So, I waited a full year and it was
the next season when I decided I would go to Sugar Bowl and take a lesson and I went
to the lesson when the instructors spent at least 40 minutes of the lesson, the first
four hours, 40 minutes on how to put your snow board on. Second part was 30 minutes
on how we're going to get on the chairlift and get off the chairlift once we get there.
And then when we--when we got at the top of the mountain, it was at least half an hour
on how to stand up. Okay. Put the edge in the snow, slowly get up. Keep the edge there.
Once we learned that, we learned how to turn which was--my instructor, he said, "Point
down hill. And if you want to turn left, swing your body this way, swing your body that way."
You know we're learning to swing our bodies all around and it worked, you know. But it
was a complete exaggeration of how you actually snowboard. And the exercise were going to
do is a complete exaggeration of how you would center yourself because your body learns through
exaggeration and repetition, like any other thing you learn to ride a bike, you learn
to play tennis, it's exaggerating things. When I was watching the X Games last week
on TV, they're doing the halfpipe. None of those snowboarders were swinging their arms
around like this, crouching down, sticking their butts out like I was trained, they looked
very fluid because it's all second nature to them. So, we're going to do a centering
exercise that's about exaggeration repetition. And it's about how do you get back to that
center place after you've been knocked off center. I have some people that I think of
when I think about this like in sports world, who can do this? In hockey I think of Wayne
Gretzky as one of the great ones that could do that. I'm a Sharks fan so I think of Patrick
Marleau in the Sharks. Always consistent, doesn't matter if he gets knocked down, he
gets back up. Tiger Woods in golf. Kobe Bryant in baseball. Tom Brady in football, and you've
got John Elway and Joe Montana beyond that. These are guys who when they get knocked down,
they don't think about, "Oh I just got hit real hard." They center back to the middle
and then go forward. World leaders; JFK, Martin Luther King, anyone else? You who have anyone
you can think of that has this sort of ability to stay centered?
>> Gandhi. >> GILLIS: Gandhi, exactly. Nelson Mandela.
Now, these are people that do it so subtle you don't notice it happening. They don't
go, "Whoa, hold on wait a minute, I got to do my centering practice." It just happens
because they're so good at it. Okay. So, let's--I'm going to lead you to this exercise. Experiential.
And the first thing I need you to do actually is, I need to trigger you, I need you to think
about something difficult. So, I would like you to bring back a difficult situation that
happened in the last few hours or days. It could be a really bad e-mail you got. A really
terrible meeting you were in. Somebody you really can't stand being around. A bad interaction.
I want you to bring that back into it and just think about that, dwell on it for a few
seconds. And I'll give you a little bit of time to bring something up. But I want you
to really go back to that place that happened recently and sort of relive it. And while
you're doing that I want you to notice, is there tension anywhere in your body when you're
remembering this. Is it--is your heart rate changing, is your breathing changing? Is your
attitude changing as you're picturing this event? And I want you to remember the attitude
you have right now. Okay. So, what I'll ask you to do now is everyone stand up and if
you got a laptop, you're going have to set it down next to you, I'm sorry. You don't
have to slam it close like Lesly. But you're going to need to have your hands free. So,
what I ask you to do is balance your weight equally in both feet. Again, this is an exaggeration
of centering. Stay balance on both feet, feel the weight equally on your--on the balls of
your feet and the heels of your feet so you come into full vertical position. Put your
chin out a little bit so you feel very, very vertical. Now, what we're going to do is we're
going to take in three deep breaths and I'm going to show you how to do this breath first.
So, I'm going to get four, you're going to get three. The first one I'm going to do is--I'm
going to exaggerate that even. I'm going to breathe in my nose, to my stomach, up to my
chest, I'm going to breathe up into my shoulders then I'm going to let it out with a loud exhale.
Okay? I'm going to do this. I'll just demonstrate it. Okay. Let's all do that. Another one.
One more. Now, what I want you to do is feel the heat radiating off your face right now.
You know, your skin temperature is about 90 to 91 degrees, we're all basic little heaters.
You could feel that heat energy coming off of your face. If you could, visualize the
heat coming off the entire front of your body now. You just feel like heat radiating off
of you. Now, you've been in a conference room that's too small with a bunch of people get
in there, it gets really hot. Just feel that heat coming off your body. Now, visualize
it coming off the back of your body also. So, it's balanced, front and back. And now,
visualize it off the left and the right side also. So, you're equally distributing that
heat radiating off of you. And now, you can visualize it off the top of your head, the
bottoms of your feet. While you're in this place I also want you to think into how much
space there is in your body. Your know, from a quantum physics point of view there's 99.999%
space in every atom to make up--makes up every molecule of every cell of your body. So, you're
mainly space. So, go in to that space, fill the spaciousness inside yourself. Okay. Everyone
can sit back down. So now what I'd like you to do is bring back the incident, the person,
the e-mail, the meeting, bring that back into consciousness the thing you were thinking
about before. Is there any difference? >> Yes.
>> GILLIS: What do you notice now? >> It's still [INDISTINCT] but not as tensed
as it was the first time. >> GILLIS: Not as tensed as the first time.
Anyone else? Heart beat different? Are you in a different attitude than the first time
you were thinking about that person? You are. So, this is--what we do is we change our state.
Our state is the way we are. And if you come out of that hot incident, and in this case
we recreated it artificially. You come out of this hot incident, how do you switch back
into being ready for the next thing, especially with something important where you need to
show up versus carrying the trail of that incident into the next place? And what we've
done is we've tricked our nervous system. We have an autonomic nervous system there's
two sides to that; sympathetic, the parasympathetic. The sympathetic is the fight or flight. We
go to scary movies, we like to get scared. If you're going to get in your car at night
and there's a shadow behind you, you jump. Someone gets in your face you don't know if
you'll run away or--yes, horrible e-mail, this is--this is fight or flight. What we
did was trick our body into going parasympathetic which is the opposite of that. It's opening
your pupils. It's allowing your stomach to digest. It's relaxing your muscles. What happens
when you're in that place is you get a lot more information about what's happening around
you, about the event you were thinking about. You're not as tensed about it. The event's
still there, it didn't change. It's just how you're reacting to it. Lesly, would you accompany
me in this. Lesly's done this once before because we tried this the other day but if
you take--this bottled water has about a quarter of a bottle in it and this one's full. Just
hold those. Which one's heavier? >> HIGGINS: Clearly.
>> GILLIS: Obvious. >> HIGGINS: The full one.
>> GILLIS: And you're obviously going to know the answer to the next question, but I want
you to grip them as tight as you can, as hard as you can. Do you notice the difference?
>> HIGGINS: They feel the same. >> GILLIS: You guys are going to try this,
not now, but later, you can go over here and grab the water bottle. But the point of this
exercise is when you're constricted, you have a lot less information. You have a lot less
information about what's happening. So, the purpose of centering is that between meetings
you leave your 11 o' clock meeting, you're uptight, you're agitated, you're upset, if
you know you have to show up for the next meeting. So that in three to five seconds
you can shift. And that's what the people we've talked about, the sports heroes, the
world leaders, that's what they're good at doing. It's not that they don't get knocked
off balance all the time with events happening to them. It's that they can shift back to
center really quickly and show up for the next important thing. There's lots of things
you don't need to show up for. That you don't need to center. But there are some that you
want--you want a center and show up for. >> HIGGINS: Okay. Go to your next slide.
>> GILLIS: Are there any questions on this? >> HIGGINS: So, the water bottle exercise
really helps me understand something that I work with clients on a lot, which is awareness
of self and awareness of others. So, if we're constricted, if were anxious, like it--like
this tensed up, our ability to sense the environment around us, the people around us, our own reaction
is limited. Our ability therefore to choose an appropriate response to the situation is
very limited. If we're able to have full command of our ability to take in information, externally
and internally, we can then make a better choice. How do I want a respond or maybe I
need to give myself 30 minutes before I respond to this e-mail that I'm very upset by. So,
you just have more choice. More awareness and more choice.
>> GILLIS: So, if you were going to use this exercise, you would want to practice it for
a while, maybe several weeks and it would take this kind of time. But much like snowboarding,
like an example I gave it, once you get good at it, it's a shift that happens. You just--you
start shifting because it's a body intuition. Your body understands it.
>> HIGGINS: Okay. Do you want to do slide advances for me here?
>> GILLIS: Yes. >> HIGGINS: Thank you. Okay. So, the next
tool that we're going to introduce and give you some practice with is a tool called Balancing
Advocacy with Inquiry. And this is a tool that has a couple of really powerful distinctions
that I first want to introduce to you. So, the first is, to actually make distinctions
between two basic modes of communication. Advocating, here's what needs to be done.
Here's what I need from you versus inquiry. What do you need from me? And most of us and
certainly most of the clients I've worked with are a lot more comfortable and better
trained at advocating. So, being aware that there are two primary modes. The second is,
in the use of this tool, what we also do is go below one's position and state or inquire
into the underlying contexts behind the position. So, one way that I like to think about this
is; anybody here also good at Math? Good at Math when you were in school. So, I was really
good at Algebra and I loved Algebra, but I was always frustrated by the fact that you
had to write out the way you got to the answer of the problem. You couldn't just state the
answer. You had to show your work. So, when advocating we're showing the thinking process
that we engaged in behind the position that we're holding. So when we're advocating we're
saying, "Here's what I think needs to happen. Here's how I got there," and we invite others
to explore and challenge and build on our view. Here's what I think. Here's how I got
there. What do you think about my perspective? Maybe there's a better way to solve this particular
issue. And with inquiry, we're doing the same of others. I might say like in our role play
earlier, Greg came in and he said, "I think we need to add resources," and I asked him,
"Are there any other options that you've considered to a frequent situation that I'm sure you've
all dealt with too. Are there other options that you've considered? Walk me through your
thinking." And a way that I--a time that I became really aware of this tool and used
it a lot was in my prior career and when I was leading engineering efforts at Commerce
One. We are religious where at the time was a platform war. And at the time, it was really
around which platform are we going to develop on and we had two basic schools of thought.
And our--the discussions were arguments. "It's Microsoft. No, Microsoft sucks. It's Unix.
No, Unix is too new. It's not ready." And that kind of dialog, which is at that positional
level, doesn't really solve anything. We just get more dug in and trenched in our own positions.
So what we would try to do is then have a conversation about, okay, what are the criteria
that we think are important in making a platform decision and are there some criteria that
might be more important or have some different advantages for us. So what would be the process
by which we would go through an analysis and assessment? And then we can have a dialogue
that gets below positions and into underlying interests. And this is basically what mediators
do and anyone who has ever read, "Getting to YES," which is one of the most famous and
best books on being able to negotiate and work with conflict. That's basically what
they're doing, getting below the positions to underlying interest or context. Please.
So, when we're leading through advocacy, these are some basic phrases that will put you right
into advocacy. Here's what I think. Here's how I got there. What do you think? So, I've
given you just some sample phrases that would give you some examples of how to do that.
What I noticed both when I was still an executive and when I became a coach was that, I think,
we forget to give context often. We forget that there's a lot we know that maybe people
working with us and for us aren't aware. We have a lot of information that we neglect
to offer because we forget we know or we don't think that it really matters. And we short
change people's ability to make affective decisions or provide other solutions when
we neglect to deliver that context. We deliver the context; people understand where we're
coming from. It could--it could be the difference between buying in and not buying in. It could
be that, now that I understand what you're really trying to do, I'm in a better position
to give you an even better solution than the one that you've offered. Okay. With inquiry,
we're basically doing the reverse. So, walk me through your thought process. What leads
you to this particular position, are there other options that you've considered? How
will this--how will this scale over time? Is this a short-term solution? Maybe we need
something that's more systemic in nature. Other ways of thinking about the power of
this is--how many people here like being told what to do? May depend. May depend. How many
people like being told flat out they're wrong? I sure don't. And this is a way by inquiring
at other--into other peoples' perspective that we are understanding their perspective
and we're also giving them the opportunity to consider their own thought process, or
if you've ever gone to someone with a problem and said, "Hey. Can I just let you be a sounding
board for me? I just--let me tell you what I'm trying to do, I'm really stuck." And in
the process of explaining the problem, you solved your own problem. So, inquiry is effective
in a whole lot of different ways. We give people support for their thinking process.
We don't necessarily have to tell them what to do, but we ask them to think about it.
We can ask some provocative questions that may allow them to see other solutions or ways
of approaching a problem that they hadn't considered. Okay. A nuance of inquiry; some
authors call empowering questions. And I love this quote, "Tell me and I'll forget," and
when you get older, it's even harder, "Show me and I may remember, and involve me and
I'll understand," which is actually part of what we're trying to do today. Involve you,
give you the experience of being able to work with some material and learn through that
experience. So, when we're asking empowering questions, they are an effective, influencing
and coaching tool. Whether it's for people you're managing directly, people you're working
with, people you're leading in a cross functional team or as a technical lead, you know, type
of--in a technical lead type of role. So, let me be clear. We're not giving people the
answer, but we're supporting their thinking process. We're helping them to find--maybe
some different ways of thinking about this--the solution that will--that will move them forward.
So, here are some sample kinds of questions that you might use. So, we're going to give
you some opportunity to do a little bit of practice to understand and actually, before
we do that. We're going to role play. >> GILLIS: I'm at the center after this. I
can't believe this, cannot believe this. >> HIGGINS: What? What's up?
>> GILLIS: My boss wants us to do an early delivery of x-ray.
>> HIGGINS: So, why are you frustrated about that?
>> GILLIS: It's a throwaway. It's ridiculous. It's a--it's a distraction.
>> HIGGINS: You know, in my relationship with your boss she doesn't seem like someone who
likes to do throwaway efforts. What is she really trying to accomplish with this?
>> GILLIS: I guess she's just trying to get credibility for the project team. That's the
only one that I can figure. >> HIGGINS: Yes. Or early delivery, gets some
traction. >> GILLIS: Yes. Yes, show our capabilities.
>> HIGGINS: Yes. Yes. >> GILLIS: It's just a waste of time.
>> HIGGINS: It is a waste of time. Well, are there any other ways that you might be able
to meet that goal of early delivery? >> GILLIS: I just can't believe she said that.
I mean, it really upsets me. >> HIGGINS: Yes. I see--I see you're frustrated.
I don't like throwaway work either but is there another way that you could accomplish
the goal? >> GILLIS: Another way? Well, we could--we
could do the first part of Project Athena and get that done. That's not a throwaway.
That would actually show real, real work and it's something that's, you know, a real project.
>> HIGGINS: And you could achieve that in the same time frame?
>> GILLIS: Yes, absolutely. I'm sure we'll show our credibility. We'd more than show
our credibility. >> HIGGINS: How do you think your manager
would respond to that idea? >> GILLIS: She'd probably say yes. I don't
know why I didn't think of it. >> HIGGINS: Hey, maybe you need to do some
of that centering process that I was hearing about.
>> GILLIS: I was just so upset when she said that.
>> HIGGINS: Yes, I understand. So, what do you think you want to do about this?
>> GILLIS: I want to go ask her. She'll probably say yes.
>> HIGGINS: Good. >> GILLIS: I just didn't think about it. I
don't know why. I was just so upset. >> HIGGINS: But it sounds like this would
meet her goal and it's a solution that you'd really be in support of and advocate for.
>> GILLIS: Yes. Now, thanks for your help. >> HIGGINS: Okay. You're welcome. I wish all
my meetings had been that easy. Now, that's a good illustration of the power of inquiry.
And to demonstrate advocacy, what the manager could have done, what Greg's manager could
have done, instead of saying, "Hey, I want you to do this delivery" of whichever project
it was, she might have come to Greg and said, "Hey, Greg, I'm really thinking that it would
be helpful for our project team if we could get some credibility by doing an early delivery.
Here's my goal. What--I'm thinking that this project might be a good way to do that, but
what do you think? Maybe there's--maybe there's a different project that would be even better."
And in that--so, there's advocacy which now tells Greg what I'm trying to accomplish and
it let--and invites him in to brainstorm around a solution to the problem. See the distinction
here? And it's my experience, especially as a former systems person that we often don't
give that kind of contacts. We don't talk about what it is that we're trying to solve.
We give a solution to the problem. And then people on the other side think, "Oh, that's
what I have to do and I'm not allowed to come up with a better solution. I may not even
know what the real need is that I'm trying to meet." So, to give you some opportunity
to do some practice with this, I'm going to ask you to form groups of two or three people,
and I've got some copies here of some of the sample language that we were just looking
at and I'm going to ask you to--do you want to pass this out? To--in your teams, just
write down some statements in the first situation. Imagine you're going to your team, and instead
of saying, "Here are your [INDISTINCT] for the quarter," how might you advocate that?
Okay. How might you use advocacy to put forth your position? And in the last two situations,
envision someone coming to you and making these statements and how might you use inquiry
to better understand and help the person whose facing this particular--whose espousing this
particular perspective? Okay? We'll, just give you a few minutes to do some practice.
Okay? You're welcome to do that individually or in groups of two or three, okay? So, we
have 16--we have minutes. >> GILLIS: [INDISTINCT]
>> HIGGINS: I'd surely really love to be able to do it. Let's--the importance. So, let's--I
won't spend a lot of time debriefing this [INDISTINCT] because it's so much more memorable
when you do it. It never occurred to me that they would form small groups.
>> GILLIS: I turned mine off. >> HIGGINS: Stephanie, the Asian woman to
my left is with us [INDISTINCT] one of my clients. They could just do, like, two rounds
or three rounds of the importance. That's enough to get the idea. Okay. Anyone comfortable
volunteering how you might advocate about your OKRs? Something besides so, here they
are. Yes? >> So John really did the--did that [INDISTINCT].
They really came with, you know, based on [INDISTINCT] of OKRs what we did and you guys
like and what, you know--what you think the most rewarding or the biggest payoff. And
you really presented all those things and so the OKRs based on that context.
>> HIGGINS: Yes. >> It was quite [INDISTINCT] it was quite
difficult to actually, you know, go ahead and question its reasoning because he seems
to have like an airtight case. [INDISTINCT] quite a good job [INDISTINCT]
>> HIGGINS: Okay. So the context of how I've come to...
>> Yes. >> HIGGINS: ...this particular objectives.
Okay? And any inquiries that you want to volunteer for either of these two positions that you
had to receive. Yes? >> [INDISTINCT] rather than asking negative
question, why not ask more probing question like, well, what do you think would work...
>> HIGGINS: Great. >> [INDISTINCT] and how should it [INDISTINCT]
>> HIGGINS: Great. >> [INDISTINCT] rather than asking negative
questions [INDISTINCT] asking more appropriate like what do you think [INDISTINCT] so what
are your goals, what would be--what kind of alternatives are you looking for or what are
you trying to achieve? >> HIGGINS: Great. Great. I don't know if
everyone could hear. So the real emphasis was around in asking the probing questions,
talking about positive things. So rather than why won't it work, well, what would work?
What's your idea? Okay. Very good. We have one more tool that we want to introduce and
so we're going to fast forward to feed forward. >> GILLIS: Feed forward. This is our experiential
exercise. It's different than feedback. We all know what feedback is; performance reviews,
what you did over the past 9 to 12 or sometimes 18 months. Feed forward is different. It's
looking towards, what you could do different in the future. So, we're just going to do
this. Each person, it would be helpful if you picked one thing you want to change. And
that could be something like--I picked, when I've done this exercise, I want to be a better
listener. The other one I picked before was I want to be at meetings on time. These are
simple little things that are going to make my life better. And we're going to ask for
suggestions from someone else on these things. And don't worry about who you pair up with
because we're going to have you pair up with multiple people. You're just going to be walking
around, asking people this question. I want to be a better listener. You're going to get.
>> HIGGINS: Oh, my. >> GILLIS: I think we need better chairs,
stronger chairs. >> HIGGINS: Good recovery there. Do you want
to--should we model quickly what we're going to ask people to do?
>> GILLIS: Yes. So only ideas for the future, listen to suggestion, and all you can say
when the person gives you the feed forward is thank you. I want to be--let's demo this,
Lesly. I want to be a better listener. >> HIGGINS: Okay. My suggestions for you to
be a better listener would be, first of all, do that centering exercise before you go into
meetings. And before--when you're in a dialogue with someone before you offer your perspective,
first use active listening and summarize what you've heard from the other person, okay?
>> GILLIS: Thank you. >> HIGGINS: You're welcome.
>> GILLIS: All I can say is thank you and all she can say is you're welcome, okay? So
as you go around, you use the same thing you want to improve with each person. Find a new
partner, I want to be a better listener, they give you two pieces of feedback, they're trying
to help you as much as possible. Your goal when you're getting the feed forward is you
want to learn as much as possible. And I'd pick up the paper because I've done this before
and it's actually really good to write some of these things down, because you're going
to get some really useful stuff. So, think of something you want to improve. It doesn't
have to be real personal you have to share with everyone. Just something that's going
to help you a little bit in your life to make--to make a difference.
>> HIGGINS: And then we're going to give you a couple of opportunities to--so you'll find
a partner, ask for two suggestions, switch places, and we'll give you two minutes per
pair. And you'll probably have opportunities to do two or three rounds of the exercise
we'll call time when you're switching. >> GILLIS: When you're done with the--when
you're done with the person you're talking with, just find someone else who's free. So
people will be freeing up, just wander around and interact with each other. Hi. You can
say my name is, my name is, but after that it's thank you and you're welcome, okay?
>> HIGGINS: Okay. >> GILLIS: Let's go.
>> [INDISTINCT] >> GILLIS: Are we okay?
>> Yes. >> GILLIS: Testing.
>> HIGGINS: Five minutes because New York is already busy [INDISTINCT]
>> GILLIS: Okay. Okay, can we bring ourselves back to order? I know this is a hard one to
stop. Sorry to interrupt you all. What would one word be to describe this exercise? If
you have one word? >> Useful.
>> GILLIS: Useful. Anyone else? >> Collaborative.
>> GILLIS: What? >> Collaborative.
>> GILLIS: Collaborative. Other words? >> [INDISTINCT]
>> GILLIS: What was that? >> Positive.
>> GILLIS: Positive. >> Empowering.
>> GILLIS: Empowering. Are these words used to describe feedback? Usually not.
>> When done well. >> GILLIS: Hmm?
>> When done well. >> GILLIS: When done well. Okay. The reason,
you now, why is this--why is this impactful, why is this empowering, why does this make
a difference? We think it's because you're allowed to listen. One of the main things
is you're free to listen. You can't give any other response other than thank you. And in
that, you don't need to be witty, smart, angry. All you have to do is say thank you. So you
actually show up. Again, back to showing up to listen. You're freed to listen. You can
also focus on the goal, not the obstacle. You can focus on the future. It's about changing
something that hasn't happened yet. And it eliminates judgment. It's not personal. You're
brainstorming together, working out a way that things can get better for you.
>> HIGGINS: And this is a really effective way of being able to do performance review.
So focusing on the future, collaborating with people around what to focus on and how to
develop the needed capability. So, we're better [INDISTINCT]
>> GILLIS: Another thing you can use this for is team building. Have your team together
and say, "How can I be a better team member in the future?" and have each person, one
on one, go around the room like this and just share with each other. Nothing from the past,
just what can I do in the future to be a better team member? Really powerful. We're running
out of time so we're going to go to the end. So we challenge you to pick one of these techniques
and use it the next week. You know, use centering, use feed forward, balance advocacy and inquiry.
Use these things. Just pick one and see if it helps you. See if it makes a difference
for you. Some of the resources we use to put this talk together are here. Marshall Goldsmith
put together feed forward, and these other resources should help you. If you want to
go find these books or resources, you're happy--we're happy to help you locate them. This is available
if you want to contact us. We can send you the presentation. And here's our contact information.
>> HIGGINS: And copies of our information up here, and we thank you for your participation
and your presence. >> GILLIS: Thanks for showing up.