Brain hijack can improve performance!

A simple leadership hack

Lynne Cooper

· coaching and communication

I am currently reading, enjoying (and learning from) Change Their Mind by Simon Horton, which I highly recommend. Full of tips and strategies for persuasion and influence, it’s a fun read, as well as a useful one. One of many interesting facts in the book was a reminder that researchers have identified that a simple question hijacks the brain. Known as instinctive elaboration, this mental reflex means that when your brain is thinking about the answer to a question it really can’t contemplate anything else.

No wonder then that coaching is so effective. In (the frequently over-) stimulating environments that we find ourselves in at work, and often outside of work, gaining someone’s attention and asking a question means that their brain will focus only on that question in that moment. And when you give them enough time to think through their response, by pausing and listening, Horton asserts that the person can’t not have an answer, even if they decide not to share it or don’t yet have the words they are looking for to articulate it.

Questions, rather than instructions or advice, help others to think for themselves.They then understand themselves better and are able to find their own way. This is the key to people performing more effectively and reaching their potential. If only all aspects of leadership were that straightforward!

The Five-Minute Coach is a framework of questions! No dialogue, just questions. Find out about our open training here.