Friday, 18 May 2012

I don't know

What's this post about?

I don't know. That's right; it's about "not knowing".

I spend the two days at a coaching course by TNM Coaching and we had a great time there. There were really good conversations about topics regarding coaching and I will delve more deeply into the ones that had most impact on me. Before I go deeper I will share some insights that I learned at the course about questions and the answer "I don't know".

The fact of not knowing

We all get asked questions that we may not have the answer. Some questions are just too complex for us to understand or we may not have the skills to answer that question. For example someone asks you about the amount of stars on the Northern sky, so you'll probably answer "I don't know". In this case you may not have acquired the necessary knowledge base on the topic and thus lack the ability to know the answer.

Could you answer differently?

When we answer by saying "I don't know" we subconsciously diminish ourselves. We give ourselves the impression that the knowledge is required to be "something" and by lacking the knowledge we are lacking as humans. It's a human behavior thingy of some kind, I think, and it comes naturally if we don't have the answer thought up.

If we could spend some time to think about the answer we might be able to avoid the "not knowing -trap". A difficult question requires a bit of analyzing. Do I need that knowledge right now? Could I check it up somewhere? Is there a reason why I have now acquired the required knowledge to answer this question? Do I possess the knowledge already but effectively forgotten it? By answering a question with a question (be it mental or verbal) you may find a better answer than "I don't know".

I don't know if I want to answer this question

There are different situations where you answer a question with an "I don't know". Sometimes the answer is to avoid answering truthfully. In a coaching session when another person asks questions and helps you solve your problem the answer "I don't know" may come in up. This poses interesting issue with the coach as there may be answers behind the "I don't know".

At this moment comes a point where the situation needs to be evaluated. Is it reasonable to try to find the answer behind the dodge or is it better to let it be. If you decide to let the issue untouched it should be stated. You may agree to speak of the topic at later times.

If you however mutually agree to go deeper behind the dodge, one good way is to eliminate the psychic lock (a Jedi Mind trick) by a simple question: "If you knew the answer, what would it be?" or "If a situation presents itself, what would you or someone else do to solve the situation?" The wording reaches behind the barrier and encourages the person to use the capabilities he or she has and start seeing the solutions. This may not however work always, but it is one part of the probing and facilitating the coachee to be able to verbalize his or hers issues and find the solutions.

More coaching stuff coming up!


This is my insight onto the subject of "not knowing". I got the inspiration to this from the coaching coach Vivienne Ladommatou who spent two days with us at F-secure to help us be better coaches. I really admire her wisdom about Genuine Interest and I think that could be the next post regarding the coaching.

I will be making at least some kind of a blog post series about coaching, especially the things that matter to me the most in coaching. I will do some practicing to hone my skills so if someone is interested to help me with my quest to become a better coach, feel free to contact me and we'll figure out some time slot and issue that we start discussing about using the coaching process.

So just tweet or Skype me, or comment under here, and I'll arrange a coaching session that best suits the context. When will be a good time to coach? Well... I don't know. ;)

2 comments:

Duncan Nisbet said...

Hi Pekka,

I'd love a coaching session - it'd help me, it'll help you so we're both winners.

I'd like to have a go coaching as well if you're up for that as well?

Weekday evenings are better for me.

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