This blog was published previously on the International Coaching Federation blog.
The ICF Core Competencies include clear, direct language and powerful questioning, and these competencies require an awareness of our word choices.
How clear and direct is the word might? Are you familiar with the expression “coulda, woulda, shoulda all over yourself” and the implication? Saying try is giving permission not to follow through. Saying need to creates resistance. The words in these examples emphasize a lack of confidence and a lack of conviction or motivation.
Replace the limiting words might, could, would, should, try with will. Change need to want. Say the same thing with the different words and reflect on how it feels different. Now you have made the change to language that is clear and direct.
What constitutes a powerful question? A question that provokes thought, expands or challenges thinking, promotes being proactive, and affirms possibilities. Questions that start with the words is, are, any, can, do, will are closed so instead ask what or how questions. Asking why invites a defensive answer so instead ask, “What are the reasons?” Or, “What is behind that?” Questions with lots of words lose impact. Short, simple, open questions are powerful.
Words make a difference and are a powerful tool for understanding, creating clear and direct communication, supporting client focus and motivation, and asking powerful questions. Equally significant is the absence of words – the power of silence. That is a topic for another blog.