My father was a chemical engineer, very skilled in math and science. His natural affinity is for ‘task.’ I was a much better ‘humanities’ student. My affinity is for ‘people.’ Where those natural tendencies come from is interesting, but not necessary for coaching purposes. We want to know what you want to do with your ‘tendencies’ going forward.

I want to invite you to consider how to build your capacity for the ‘other side.’ If you are really good with analysis, tactics, task completion, and organization, but not so good with relationships, what would be the benefit of improving your ability to build and strengthen your relationships? If you are really good at building and maintaining relationships, what would be the benefit to improve your ability with analysis, tactics, execution, and organization?

In my experience coaching others in this area I have found that people have a difficult time building their capacity for the ‘other side.’ The first step is being able to recognize that you will benefit from developing the ‘other side.’ Maybe that recognition came by way of feedback from your boss, or a friend. Maybe it is something you gained through your own recognition.

The other insight is that building your capacity doesn’t mean that it has to become a strength. What is more realistic, and important, is that you raise your capacity enough to be considered effective by yourself and others. Find someone who cares enough to give you periodic feedback about your progress. It may be your supervisor, or someone close enough to be honest with you.

If you are a ‘people’ person you may be more ‘intuitive’ and often make decisions from your ‘gut.’ While that is a useful component of decision-making, ‘data’ questions will serve to promote greater breadth and depth to your decisions. If you are a ‘doer,’ always focused on what needs done, you may be served by taking a moment to interact with others on a more personal level.

With recognition of your need to improve in either area comes a need to ‘pause.’ The pause is a ‘reset’ in your behavior to consider how you, the organization, or the other person will be best served by ‘people’ or ‘data’ questions. If it’s data, consider:

  • How do we know that’s true?
  • Where did the information come from?
  • Is there another right answer?
  • Do we have all the facts?
  • What are the possibilities?
  • Tell me how you arrived at this answer?
  • How will this impact our client?
  • How will this be viewed in the market?
  • What occurred and what is the impact?
  • What did you/we learn?
  • What do we need to do differently?
  • Is this your/our best solution?
  • What did we do instead of getting this done?

These are some of the myriad of questions that can be of benefit when you are trying to analyze, make good tactical decisions, fix things and get things done. The ‘doer’ often has trouble pausing because, well, they’re ‘doing.’ That is why there has to be a conscious moment of thinking, “Is this a good time to ‘interact’ with them (have they done something well that I can acknowledge, are they a valued member of the team, etc.).” Often, I decide this based on how long it has been since I’ve had a meaningful ‘I care about you’ conversation; sometimes it is a need to get know to them better. Then, I find the opportune moment, when I can take 2 – 8 minutes to ask:

  • How are things going? –
  • Is there anything you’re having a particular issue with where I could help?
  • I really appreciate your work on _____. –
  • Tell me about your family?
  • How are you enjoying your work, your teammates?
  • If you could change, or improve, anything about the work, or how we could improve things around here, what would it be?
  • If there was one thing I could change about how I interact with you, what would it be?

There are many more questions. It isn’t about the questions as much as it is about the interest – the interest in the other person and to strengthen who you are and your capacity for that ‘other side.’ Building capacity takes time, effort, discipline, and often courage to acknowledge, “I need to do this!”

To a better you…