#BlogElul 18: Ask

Asking questions is absolutely the heart of all that I do.

When I first became a teacher, I thought I needed to tell people things. This goes back to when I was a graduate student teaching undergraduates, on to becoming a university instructor and later a high school math and physics teacher. I thought I was supposed to lecture, to impart information. I definitely talked too much, and I apologise now to all those who were my students. I think they did learn, but not necessarily because I was such a good teacher.

When I left teaching and started learning how to become a life coach, I really struggled with the fact that coaches, unlike, say, consultants, are not there to tell you what to do. They are there to ask questions, maybe the questions you know you need to ask yourself but don’t want to, for various reasons.

Maybe as a child you were told to stop asking questions. Maybe you are already aware of the answers, and you don’t like them, or you are afraid to acknowledge them – once you know what your heart wants you to do, you’ll need to act, and that is scary.

Everyone tells themselves stories all the time – that’s how we make sense of our world. Being blessed with the vivid imagination of our species, we can take a look or a half-heard comment and turn it into a giant story. If we are inclined to view ourselves as victims, you can be sure that the story will involve some wrong that is being done to us.

Having heard a person’s story, a coach will start asking questions. Why do you think this? If you don’t like feeling the way you do (which is probably why you are talking to a coach in the first place!), how would you like to feel? How can you change your story, and is there evidence to support the new story?

Learning to shut up and listen was the hardest part of my coach training, but I am extremely grateful for having learned this skill.

You don’t have to be a trained life coach to take the time to ask questions and listen to the answers. That is the best gift you can give the people in your life. Try it!

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