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095 – Game-Changer in Blue: Insight on the Power of Listening Skills in Policing

Conflict in the workplace: How do we define it, and why does it matter?

CPP Global (the publisher of the Myers-Briggs Assessment) defines conflict as “any workplace disagreement that disrupts the flow of work.” This definition emphasizes that conflict reduces productivity.

A worldwide study by CPP looking at workplace conflicts showed that 57% of the US respondents had NOT received training in how to manage workplace conflict, even though 95% of people who have received training as part of leadership development or formal external courses say that it helped them in some way.

Policing is a profession that has many different types of workplace conflicts. While officers undergo de-escalation training, learning the Our Community Listens skills has led to many of them saying they wish to have this type of training at the start of their careers.

That includes our guest, Sergeant Brian Brown, of the University of Colorado Police Department.

As a teenager, Officer Brown was influenced by two tragic events: the Columbine School Shooting, which was close to where he grew up, and the disastrous events of 9/11. Witnessing those society-changing tragedies solidified our guest’s passion for public safety. His choice to serve at the University of Colorado was no mistake, as he wants to affect young adults positively.

Officer Brown has a devotion to making connections with others. He believes the skills he has learned in the OCL class can help make us a better society. Listen to how he applies them with his boss, the public, and his family of four kids.

0:00-3:05 – Conflict in the workplace
3:15 – Conversation begins w/Sergeant Brian Brown
20:30 – Skill Snippet on Power Questions

AI-generated dictation of the podcast audio

Speaker 1 0:11
On the listen first podcast, you’ll join us as we connect with an array of fascinating guests from varying backgrounds and perspectives to explore how we can build and become leaders that transform their families, workplaces and communities. Tune in for insight on mastering skills like active listening, verbal and nonverbal communication, understanding behavioral tendencies and appreciating individuality.

Adam Salgat 0:47
Hello, and welcome to the listen first podcast. I’m your host, Adam Salgat. Our guest today is already An Officer and a Gentleman. But what happens when he becomes a great listener to tune in to find out?

conflict in the workplace, how do we define it? And why does it matter? CPP global, the publisher of the Myer Briggs assessment defined conflict as any workplace disagreement that disrupts the flow of work. This definition emphasizes that conflict reduces productivity. A worldwide study by CBP looking at workplace conflicts showed that 57% of us respondents had not received training in how to manage workplace conflict. Even though 95% of people who have received training as part of a leadership development, or formal external course, say help them in some way. Policing is a profession that has many different types of workplace conflicts. While officers undergo de escalation and risk mitigation training learning the our community listening skills has led many of them to say they wish they had this type of training at the start of their careers. That includes our guest Sergeant Brian Brown of the University of Colorado Police Department. As a teenager, Officer Brown was influenced by two tragic events, the Columbine school shooting, which was close to where he grew up, and the disastrous events of 911. Witnessing those society changing tragedies solidified our guests passion for public safety, and his choice to serve at the University of Colorado was no mistake, as he wants to have a positive effect on young adults. Officer Brown has a devotion to making connections with others. He believes that the skills he has learned in listens class can help make us a better society. Listen, how he applies them with his boss, the public, his wife and his four daughters. After our conversation, tune in for his skill snippet with one of the Chapman foundation facilitators.

With me today is Sergeant Brian Brown, thank you so much for joining me, Brian.

Brian Brown 3:17
Absolutely, Adam, it’s great to be here.

Adam Salgat 3:19
I’m excited to learn more about you and everything that the our community lessons class has brought to you and the people of CU Boulder PD. So my first question is, how did the class help you connect the dots and how you work with the public, especially in high stress situations?

Brian Brown 3:36
Absolutely. So at the university and in law enforcement, I think inside my own head, I’m always trying to balance is this internal conversation with maybe a colleague or a co worker? Or is this external conversation with someone in the public, a community member, someone who I’m contacting for whatever reason, and I think the class really helped give me avenues to look for in each of those different conversations. So for example, listening is important in both areas of those. But when the class talked about the DISC assessment and trying to figure out where someone was coming from, I use that more internally than I would externally with, let’s say someone on a contact, but it still may be applicable to a community member who were working through a police problem together.

Adam Salgat 4:27
I’m curious when you have potential interaction with the public, how often do you think about the logic and emotion bubbles?

Brian Brown 4:34
Often so when we train in de escalation? One of the key concepts to that is right as emotion is high, logic is low. And you can imagine being a police officer anytime a police officer in uniform shows up to a call for some that might have an emotional connection of things are going to calm down. But if you’re the person being contacted or you know if I’m coming up to contact you Usually emotion is on its way up. And that’s one of the things we noticed in the police academy, right, we’re trained to watch people’s hands. And we’re trained to approach with Officer presidents and things like that. And what you can tell when you’re looking at an officer who’s fresh from the Academy, and maybe someone who’s been working the job for 10 years, is someone from the Academy very much is approaching a situation, trying to pull on all the things that make them a police officer, and someone who has been a veteran of law enforcement for a while, is trying to look at that humanistic connection they can make, and really having that person see them as Yes, I’m a police officer in this capacity. But I’m also a human, and I’m also trying to make a connection to you. So for me, it’s important that they know my first name, but they don’t have to refer to me as like officer or sergeant, that they can call me, Brian, right. And it’s really about bringing together our similarities, so that I can or we can work through the problem that’s in front of us.

Adam Salgat 6:00
It sounds like you’re definitely thinking about making that truly human connection. So I’m guessing a lot of the skills you learned, and the our community lessons course really rang true to that. And I’m curious, in the class, were there in class? Or maybe the days, you know, following? Did you have any aha moments, you know, moments where things just kind of clicked and you’re like, Oh, my goodness, I could do this better? Or I could do this differently?

Brian Brown 6:25
Yeah, there was a couple of them, right. And I’ll give you an example of when we look at your choice is to, you know, accept the behavior to adjust the circumstances or to ask for a change, I was able to apply that to law enforcement contacts. And we always tell people, for officers to get themselves in positions that are, you know, winnable for them. And we used to have this phrase that was, you know, ask someone to do something, tell someone to do something, and then make them do it. But when I was able to apply, can I accept the behavior in that person I’m contacting? Or do I need that just those circumstances, I was able to take that law enforcement training and say, okay, is some of the behavior I’m looking at? Can I accept what that behavior is right now, at that time? Or would adjusting that behavior actually be detrimental to creating some sort of connection with that person, there are situations where I can’t accept certain behavior that’s going on at the time for my safety, the safety of people around me? And that’s when you start to look at how do you, you know, adjust to some circumstances in that sense? And how do I ask for change, and we know that asking for that change, is a lot better than telling people to make that change, or making people make that change for you. And, you know, the class really helped me understand that at its root, listening, and making that connection helps that right, that is kind of the oil that makes ease, or the grease that makes this transaction between two people possible.

Adam Salgat 7:51
So speaking of listening, when, when we had our pre production conversation, I think one of your kind of early aha moments also had to do with the time you listen to your boss for an hour, you said, you listened for an hour? I’m curious if you could tell me that story a little bit, and how that impacted your relationship.

Brian Brown 8:10
Yeah. So again, internally in an organization, you know, as a police officer, you’re used to interacting with people daily, right, and what those interactions mean for each of those groups is going to be different. And sometimes, I personally found it was hard to throw on, you know, the hat of being inside the office working on an administrative project or something that, you know, you had been tasked with as part of the administration, or the job that I guess the police department is needing done. And then you go right back out to a call for service, or a contact and you’re throwing a completely different hat on that’s requiring a completely different skill set. And those get, you know, day in and day out, it can be a little confusing, I would say at times where you get comfortable with just going to what your strengths are, but really strengths in different situations are what you’re trying to pull on. So the experience I had with my boss is, we were in the middle of a pretty complex hiring situation, on what we’re trying to work forward with next steps in the hiring process. And it actually happened during the class. I think it was the last day of the class when I got the phone call. So I took a step out of the class. Obviously, this was fresh in my mind at the time. And really what I found was by allowing, at the time, my supervisor to talk allowing them to work through what they were trying to figure out within, in this case, the hiring plot process. I found that it wasn’t so much my response that was needed. It was reflecting on the thoughts that were already there, right for him. And so as As the conversation progressed about different nuances, you can tell that he was looking for maybe just a little bit of acknowledgment and using reflectively responding to say, hey, yeah, I’m on the same page. And I think that’s a smart move, or that’s how I also view a, and it was more, I think, a transfer of I don’t know how to describe it, probably a transfer of the path for the motion that goes with it, that we’re on the same page, on that we see this situation in the same lights, the reassurance that that is exactly how, you know, I was seeing the situation was the same way they were seeing the situation. And obviously, that conversation lasted for quite a while. And so I was able to walk away with that, I think, one feeling like I had really not needed to respond as much as listen to exactly what I was thinking, you know, in my head with the same hiring process. And I felt like there was a connection, then between me and at the time, my supervisor on that path forward, I was surprised, I think at the length of time, you know, you go back and you look at your your phone call, and you’re like, wow, that conversation was, you know, quite lengthy. Because even through listening, there was connection. And there was understanding that I think, you know, in police work, you’re trying to get just to the facts and move on to the next thing, it doesn’t matter if it’s something on the street, it doesn’t matter if it’s an administration process inside, you’re trained to do that in your career. And it really allowed me to have time for that emotional and human connection that relationships are built on. So

Adam Salgat 11:40
let me ask you, this was on day three, do you think if you had that conversation, maybe the week prior, it might have gone the same way,

Brian Brown 11:48
when you’re going through a class is the best time to test out some of these ideas. And I think, being told to be a better listener or knowing to be a better listener in life, and I’m talking from the time, right, you’re in elementary school moving up on the importance of listening, maybe I had never really practiced it, taking it out. And this was a perfect opportunity to say, Okay, let’s see how this class can work in the real world. And so I can tell you, if that conversation had happened, you know, four days prior to the start of the class, it would have been very much back to the listening. But responding within the same time for every, you know, thought that was probably brought brought up would be a response from me on the thoughts that I had, on that same topic, instead of listening to everything that was trying to be conveyed and digested at one time, just to get the whole picture. And what I found about like, moving the silence, in a way in that conversation, was a gave time to process similar points that we were looking at when it comes to, you know, I want to say, decision points that we were coming up on, you know, if you go route a this could happen. But if you go route B, this could happen. And I think that’s a natural time where someone would interject and give their opinion. But by just sitting back and listening, you realize that, yeah, those were the same points that you would have made. And it was more of an understanding and agreement that, you know, not all the answers are always right there in front of you. But this does seem to be the best paths path forward. And we were on the same page about it. So I can tell you that Absolutely. If that had happened, you know, four days earlier. I don’t know if the conversation necessarily would have been as long I can tell you I wouldn’t know walked away with connection to what the conversation was about and more of that person behind the conversation and the choices that they were working through. On making.

Adam Salgat 13:46
I also tend to wonder if it would have been as productive? Because it sounds like the conversation you had with you just listening allowed allowed him to kind of work through some some things.

Brian Brown 13:56
Yeah, it’s interesting, you bring that up, because these conversations and especially in our line of work, I’m sure it’s similar across the board. This one discussion, while it lasted for a long time, I could have seen that, you know, been 234 discussions a meeting later. And so one of the points that I’d take away from was spending that time in that moment and allowing that to happen, was actually more efficient and right you walk away with a better understanding of each other a better understanding of the process, less follow up meetings, less follow up questions, because hey, you know, if that had happened four days earlier, I probably wouldn’t have allowed for the same level of communication to have occurred. On my end, I would have been asking questions and taking up, you know, time in which we’re trying to work through a problem.

Adam Salgat 14:46
You mentioned something in there just now about connection. And in our pre conversation you touched on how the class allowed you to reset many of the relationships that you have had for a long time at CU Boulder. How do you think This class has had an impact on the culture at CU Boulder, because I know many of the officers and staff have been through the our community lessons course. Absolutely, I

Brian Brown 15:11
think you first have to look at this as it’s not a skill set, that is something that you learn the first day and you’re just going to be perfect at right walking out. I think, you know, as you go through the class, it was a great opportunity for me to try some of the skills that I was learning. And I saw there was a change in the response I was getting, or the results I was getting after going through the class. But it’s easy to go back to your old habits, right. And these habits are formed, you know, from childhood on, especially when we’re talking about listening and communication. Those are formed over, you know, a lifetime and in your youth. And so really, it’s going back to those moments where you can say, hey, this conversation didn’t go as well, can I use this skill set and and applying that to a future conversation? So I know, especially, you know, in police departments, and I imagine elsewhere, sometimes we want to change certain aspects of the culture right then right there. And that’s not how culture change happens constant and over over a lot of time. And I think it allowed me to rebuild those relationships, as you know, a problem would come up and that conversation, would I’d already have that reputation of whatever, right on being quick to respond or maybe thinking that the answer was already out there. And we just needed to go down that path. And then all of a sudden, you have that conversation, and you don’t come with that same communication strategy that you’ve used for your whole life. And I think people leave that saying, you know, well, that was different, right? They can’t put a name to it originally. And then you know, you revert back to your old communication styles, you’re not thinking about communication as much. And then you realize, well, that conversation didn’t go as well. So you go back the other way. And it’s that slow improvement that you’re constantly working on that helps change those relationships over time.

Adam Salgat 17:06
I would agree. Yeah, culture change does take time. But it’s just the idea of like, we’re always looking to have a better culture in our offices, right? So this is opportunity to do that.

Brian Brown 17:18
Absolutely. It’s more of a cultural growth than a cultural change, right? How do you look at yourself and say, I want to do this better? Or I think I’m contributing to this part of the organization in which I can help growth happen?

Adam Salgat 17:32
Absolutely. So over the years, I’ve had conversations with other officers, and a couple of them who have been in the field for 20 plus years, stated that they wish they could have had a course like this when they first started in their career. Does that ring true for you? Or has that crossed your mind at all? Absolutely. I

Brian Brown 17:53
think that goes back to what I was talking about. When you look at what it looks like in becoming a police officer and graduating the academy. Obviously, there’s a lot of risk that’s associated with being a police officer, and a lot of the academy is there to train you on how to minimize that risk, right. And so when you come out of the academy, you’re working on your skill sets that include minimizing risks and a whole number of ways. But including interactions with people who quite frankly, don’t want to be interacting with the police right? At that moment. And what we all have in common, right is this ability to connect to each other and empathy. And the class goes really deep into empathy. And what you you learn, you know, in the academy, about risk, you see it in the real world, and then you realize, if you’re relatable on the street, to someone that you’re talking to, if you’re relatable to your community, and a problem they’re having, that you can start to mitigate risk that is, you know, a threat to yourself or a threat to the community with communication skills, and you’re getting better information from people who are talking to you or talking about a problem. And it’s really about, like I said, having people see you as a as a human as a person, not just as a police officer. And that’s not really conveyed, it wasn’t conveyed, at least in my academy. And it takes progress, right. So you we obviously train people to believe police officers, they were humans before that we do a really great job at hiring really good people to go out and be in law enforcement. And then we start to change some of those characteristics when they go through the academy because we want them to be safe how and in their job. And that’s really important. I can’t underscore that enough. This class helped show me that we also need to get back to the reasons that we hire exceptional people in law enforcement to begin with, and the mold that we started with was a great human being right to start with and allowing them to have that opportunity to express that, obviously in their communication on the street or through their training. One of the things that’s that’s difficult About the academy is you’re trying to figure out, how do you apply this risk mitigation, this officer safety, things like that through your own persona through your own personality, obviously, how I talk to someone in casual conversation is going to be different than how the instructor right has their personality, and they’d talk to someone in a casual conversation. And if you’re a naturally fun, outgoing person, and you try to be super rigid, that might not work for you. Alternatively, if that’s not your personality to begin with, and you try that other side, you might not be connecting, but that’s the mold you’re given. And so this class allowed me to go maybe a little deeper into what really is involved in making a connection. And I can’t stress enough the listening component, right, and that, and that really separated, I think, my academy training what I had, right first off of my career, right getting on the street, and what this class brought to me and my case, 17 years later, you mentioned

Adam Salgat 21:00
something in there about relationships and being on the street and being involved in the community. In our pre conversation, you said, I think relationships aren’t just part of the job. I say they are the job. I know you just touched on that a little bit. But would you like to elaborate on that anymore?

Brian Brown 21:19
Yeah, absolutely. That wasn’t, you know, I, I started to see that later on in my career, right. We’re the last two, three years since the pandemic, since the tragic handling of George Floyd in his death, I started to see that really what defines police success right in this country and in our community, is the relationships that police are able to establish with the community, and how truly valuable that is, when you’re starting off in law enforcement. You know, relationships are important and community policing, as you know, a subject or as a topic has been a lot around for a long time. And I think that, you know, as an agency, we’ve been very community focused for my whole career that I’ve been with University of Colorado police department. But it’s really that internalization to realize that the only way that policing works is with community partnership, and working for the community. And having that sense of honor of being part of that community, and helping that community achieve its goals and safety and the people success in those realms. I think that’s when it really hit how important relationships are, to me personally, and what that means for a police department. And then when you go through a class like our community listens, you start to realize that the center of those relationships are a couple of key principles that can be applied not only to law enforcement, but your personal life as well, right. And when you see something that you can apply at home, when you can apply it in your personal life, you can apply it at work, you can apply it, you know, in conversations with your teammates or your supervisors. But you also can apply it to a contact on the street with someone who is not too happy at the time to see right, the police coming, I think you see a lot of value. And what that is,

Adam Salgat 23:11
you set me up perfectly for my next question here mentioning personal life, because I’d love to transition to hear you talk a little bit about how these skills might have made a difference at home for you. I know you’re a father, your husband, talk to me about how this Chapman foundation course has made a difference at home.

Brian Brown 23:29
Absolutely, I went to the course I feel like at the perfect time. So the father of four beautiful daughters have twins who now are just turning 13. But when I went through the course they were probably 11 or 12 at that time. And then I have a 10 year old and a seven year old. And I think everyone’s heard about like the teenage years, right. And that means as a parent, I know we all experienced the teenage years as we were growing up ourselves. And I think this course really helped me understand some of the obstacles, especially hearing other people in the class who had you know, older kids. And when they were trying to class out and remember a story from the class, that one of the fathers in the class, went home and talked to his teenage daughter that night, went kind of approached her, saw how her day was going and just took the time to listen to her and how that next day. He felt like he had this amazing growth and connection with his daughter just from listening and not you know, asking kind of the questions as you might want to a teenager doesn’t want to want to talk to you about what’s going on. And I think for me going through the class, it was hey, I’ve seen the power now and what other people experience with that. I felt very lucky to have gone through that when I did because it gave me a toolbox that I felt like if I hadn’t have went through the class, I wouldn’t have had that as my kids started to turn 13. And I can tell you when you know those conversations at home, especially with with children are going in a different direction. And you’re wondering, like, why am I not making that connection? Or why? Why is this conversation going the way it is, I can go back to what I learned in the class, and I can go, Okay, I thought I was being a great listener. But look at this, I really wasn’t. And it gives you, you know, five steps that you’re looking at are not five steps, but five components to listening. And you can be like, Man, I didn’t use silence very well, at all, I just wanted to fill that. And I can tell on their side, they didn’t feel like I was hearing what they were saying. So I think, you know, in relationships, which is what we’re really talking about the relationship you have with your family is obviously a really important one. But the material in the course, is not putting an emphasis unnecessarily on how important the relationship is, it’s putting enough emphasis on just relationships in general. And so you see that work at home, you see that work in your organization, and our case of police officers, you see that work with community members or contacts you’re having with people in your community, and you start to really realize that, hey, this, this isn’t just something that you know, is something good to know that when I’m applying these principles, I’m feeling more connected, and I’m getting better, better results with those relationships.

Adam Salgat 26:26
Thank you so much for sharing that I’m happy that you know, you looked at it and thought about it outside of the workplace, because you’re right, it really is truly about relationships, it’s about that connection, it’s all about the opportunity to you know, feel like you’re listening to someone and have them feel like they’re being heard. As we start to wrap up the podcast here today, I always like to ask our guests for a key takeaway, something that maybe you want our listeners, our audience to practice or something for them to think about, is there anything that comes to mind that you kind of want to leave our audience with,

Brian Brown 27:00
when I went through the class, it was with law enforcement professionals, so we were lucky enough to be able to host our community listens at the University of Colorado, but we had people from the Grand Junction Police Department and the class. And to me, the takeaway was how the class was really affecting all their relationships, right. And, you know, in the short term, that tended to be the personal relationships here in the class together, you haven’t had a chance to really go out and apply that to the workplace as much as you’re in a class during the whole, you know, three days that this is going on. And I think that takeaway for me, was that you see those results fairly quick. Like I said, with that phone call that happened with my supervisor at the time, in the middle of the class, I was able to put it to the test right there and say, Hey, having attending behavior and using silence effectively and reflectively responding instead of just thinking about what my next question is going to be right off the bat. And what I want to convey, like listening is really powerful in relationships, and they, it has the ability to change that relationship and build trust within that relationship. That takeaway, I guess, I would say is that you have to give yourself, you know, grace, and the ability to try out what you’re learning in the class, knowing that it’s a lot of information. And you can’t do that all within a day. But staying at it, seeing the growth over time, trying out the easy parts of the class and seeing those easy first wins, and realizing that you know, the the material that you provide works,

Adam Salgat 28:39
you mentioned something in there about the message that you want to convey. And I think reminding ourselves, sometimes we need to think about the message that they are conveying, which is obviously what you did in your situation with your supervisor, you you took the time to listen. And as you said it was it probably shorten some of the work that was on the horizon because you guys, were able to take the time in the moment and listen to each other. Brian, thank you so much for taking time and chatting with us today on the podcast.

Brian Brown 29:10
Thank you so much, Adam, for having me. And I hope that you continue the podcast. I’m a really big fan of listening to the podcast. And again, it’s a way to refresh your skills after going through the class. much appreciate it. Thank you, Brian, take care.

Adam Salgat 29:32
Welcome to the skills snippet section of our podcast today. I’d like to welcome in Katie Trotter, our Senior Director of Content and coaching Katie, how are you?

Katie Trotter 29:42
I’m doing great, Adam. Thanks for having me today.

Adam Salgat 29:44
The skill snippet that you wanted to talk about today has to do with powerful questions. When I first heard powerful questions. The first thing that came to mind was a Saturday Night Live bit where they say how much you bench. And I was like that’s kind of my first powerful question. that, I thought, um, but I’m guessing that’s not exactly what this is about. So can you tell me when we say powerful questions, what are we talking about?

Katie Trotter 30:09
Yeah, we talked about powerful questions. It is one tool that is taught within a coaching program or a coaching training. So many people have probably started seeing this uptick in research and information coming out around the importance of having workplaces with coaching questions, or coaching culture. And so what we’re trying to do is to bring in this new skill set to equip a few more people with the skill.

Adam Salgat 30:34
Gotcha. And so when is the proper time to use them? Because I know we’re kind of taught and listens, you know, to we don’t dance, we try not to data mine, try not to, you know, ask too many questions we try to, well, we try to listen, right, we try to take in what they’re telling us. So when is the right time to start using questions?

Katie Trotter 30:55
I’m really glad you brought that up, Adam. Because when we talk about asking questions, like data mining, right, we’re really asking a lot of pointed questions to get our needs met, we’re curious about something we’ve identified that something’s important. And we kind of hijack the conversation from the person who’s talking. And listens, we really focus on how we show up for people when they have a problem when they’re experiencing emotion. So powerful questions, which we’re going to talk more about in a minute, is not effective when you’re working with someone who has a lot of emotion going on in the moment?

Adam Salgat 31:27
Well, I was gonna say, it just reminds me of like, if someone’s telling you about their pregnancy, for example, and they’re telling you that maybe they had a complicated birth, and you immediately just start asking questions about how much did the baby way. I mean, that’s not really what they’re trying to get across. Maybe at that moment, they’re trying to get across how difficult that was.

Katie Trotter 31:47
That’s a great point. And sometimes we think that we know what they want to talk more about. But there’s so much room for error at that point, that it’s just easier for us to keep relying on those reflective listening skills. When we are working with people who are having emotion, we still want to use all of those skills from Listen, we do the reflective responses, we experience empathy, we’re having this connection and starting to build that trust. Sometimes what happens is once that emotion and logic are back in balance, a person still doesn’t know how to move forward, they still feel stuck in a situation or in a perspective that they have about something that’s happening to them. And that’s the moment when powerful questions can be a really helpful tool.

Adam Salgat 32:29
Katie. So what are some benefits of using powerful questions? How have you seen them have an impact on a conversation or even on a person’s well being?

Katie Trotter 32:38
You know, I’ve been amazed the more that we’ve started to use this within our internal team, how I’ve used it at home with my children, the benefits, I feel like can be pretty widespread. So for some people, as I mentioned, if they’re stuck in a situation powerful questions, can help people to look at a situation that they may have been thinking about for months or years. And there’s something about them that can help them look at it from a new perspective, to consider it in a new angle. The other benefit of powerful questions is that you are helping to empower someone else to make their own choice about how they want to move through a problem. Because they are the ones who are still maintaining ownership of how they’re thinking through the issue, what it is that they’re really hoping to gain from the outcome. So it can be really powerful tool in that standpoint, as well.

Adam Salgat 33:25
Man, I really love like the idea of using some of these when you know, maybe my wife comes home and has, you know, something that she’s telling me about at work? You know, a lot of times we easily jump into the suggestion space, right? You could do this, or you could do that, or what about this? And what about that. But really, I mean, she’s got the skills, she’s got the knowledge, she’s got the experience, I just need to kind of let her figure it out. And these powerful questions sound like they could be very helpful to, to just, you know, further along the conversation, make her feel more heard, make her feel more seen and, and maybe help her, you know, step through it quicker.

Katie Trotter 34:04
And I’m glad you brought that up. Because one other time, or a sign I suppose is a good way to put it that it might be time for you to utilize some powerful questions is if a person has come back to you for like the fourth time or the fifth time around the same challenge or the same difficult relationship. And so that can be another another kind of, Oh, that would be a great moment for me to pull out some powerful questions.

Adam Salgat 34:27
All right, so we’ve talked these up, let’s talk a little about what they are. Can we get like what they are in a specific meeting? Can we give an example? Do you have an example of a powerful question or a situation where maybe you use one or one where you could paint a picture for us to actually step through using one specifically?

Katie Trotter 34:46
Yeah, one of the most helpful things that I have found to keep in mind when trying to come up with powerful questions is that they should always start with what or how. So we want to avoid the Why the when all of that what and how questions. And we want to use those because that’s what kind of stimulates the creativity. So if someone comes to you, and they’re venting about a situation of something that happened at work, and it’s complex, and it has a lot of different tangles to it, to say, what about that was the most challenging for you?

Adam Salgat 35:20
Gotcha. Help them start identifying what they’re going through.

Katie Trotter 35:25
Yeah. Right. So to really try to sort through what specifically about all of that pile of information, what was the hardest part of that? It also gives you an opportunity to get them moving or looking ahead. So this idea when somebody is stuck in a situation to say, what are you hoping for?

Adam Salgat 35:43
That’s a good point. Yeah. Because it kind of again, triggers the idea of, like you said, looking ahead, how do they hope this, you know, finds its resolution? You know, that’s, that’s a really great, really great opportunity for them to start getting out of the muck, maybe, right, really out of that stock space that you’ve mentioned.

Katie Trotter 36:03
And to and to get people thinking about, like there could be movement forward, sometimes we’re just like sitting in it, right, and it gets rolling over and over in our heads, and it just kind of gets us to look, look to a space that might have a little bit of hope. I will say, Adam, one of my favorite powerful questions, which probably makes all of my team members roll their eyes now, because they’re so used to me saying it, in all situations, because of the high importance that we place on emotional intelligence in leading and in life in general, I always love to ask the question, what are you learning about yourself? Because regardless of what is happening to you, regardless of whether or not you feel like you have a lot of options, or hardly any options, you are always having an opportunity to be learning something new about who you are, what your values are, and how you want to show up in that moment.

Adam Salgat 36:51
You have not triggered that one with me. But that is a great question. And I can’t wait until you come at me with it and be like, you know, she mentioned that in the skill snippet, I should probably should have thought that.

Katie Trotter 37:03
That’s a great thing. One of the side benefits through coaching, when you start using those powerful questions to help guide people on your teams, I have found that I start asking them to myself internally when I’m at situations at work. So if I all of a sudden find that I’m having a big emotional reaction to something that’s happening or a decision that was made, I can really start to utilize those powerful questions. How am I contributing to this conversation? What’s important to me about how I show up in this space, so just even the way that you start to walk yourself through situations can change when you start to utilize these,

Adam Salgat 37:40
the powerful questions that we are utilizing in serves and transforms. Where can people find them? Or where can people find some of these powerful questions in general?

Katie Trotter 37:51
One of the great things about powerful questions is that there is a wide range of suggestions, resources available for free online, I cannot tell you how many times I find myself in the middle of a call and realize I need some and then I can just go into Google and type it in and you can find lots of free lists out there as well.

Adam Salgat 38:11
So opportunity to kind of just start thinking about it and utilizing it pretty quick and easy then for people.

Katie Trotter 38:18
Yeah, and I’m really glad that you you brought up the concept of having this both in our community serves in our community transforms in our community serves, we really utilize powerful questions in a narrow focus, it’s to help us better understand the real need, that a person has. So oftentimes, people come to us with a request for something or a challenge. And we utilize powerful questions in that course, to make sure that we’re really understanding what the core need is behind the request. When we get into our community transforms, we’re really working a lot more on how do we actually equip leaders to learn how to utilize them. So we do a lot more of coaching one another and practicing using those skills.

Adam Salgat 38:57
Sounds like great opportunity for people to continue to develop their leadership skills. Katie, as we wrap up this skill snippet, give me one thing you’d like people to think about or maybe throw a powerful question, Adam, if I put you on the spot?

Katie Trotter 39:13
Oh, I love that question. Yeah, I really like this one, because it can apply in pretty much any situation when you are considering whether or not to utilize a new skill. So I would pose the powerful question. What could become possible if you were to start utilizing powerful questions in your leadership?

Adam Salgat 39:33
Super cool. Yeah, sorry. We got me thinking I lost track there. Katie, thank you so much. Appreciate it. We’ll have you back on for another skill snippet

Katie Trotter 39:45
soon. Thank you, Adam.