Why Oh Why Oh Why? (17 April 2014)

I was in Zimbabwe when the Oscar Pistorius trial was starting and, with access at the hotel to South African TV, I was very aware that the whole proceedings were going to be televised in a way that is very alien to the UK. I also realised there was no jury; it was a judge, "M'Lady", who would - who will - decide whether Reeva Sternkamp was murdered or not.

I've seen a bit of the trial here in the UK, and it made me think again about how questions are phrased. One of the Goden Rules of coaching is: stick to open questions. So it is: how do you feel? Not: do you feel happy? See the difference; the first makes the person think a bit, the second invites a Yes/No answer.

Which is what you want as a coach; but not as a lawyer. "Just answer Yes or No please" forces an unequivocal response from witnesses; which maybe good in getting a trial moving on, but often masks the real ambiguities of what happened. Did you cry out, Yes or No? Well.......

But we are also taught as coaches to avoid the open question Why. Compare these two versions of, pretty much, the same question:

What were your reasons for doing that?

Why did you do that?

The second version is somehow more..... accusing? It implies some moral judgement, a sense that, whatever it is you have done, you shouldn't have! You may, of course, really be judging the person you are questioning; but that's another no-no for coaches.

Try it for yourself; especially when you are asked Why, how do you feel?

all the best

Graham

www.tigercoaching.co.uk - email: graham@tigercoaching.co.uk - tel: + (44) (0) 7890 360 806 - skype: tigercoaching1