Staying curious leads to continual growth, driving positive learner outcomes
For the coaches at InsideTrack, working with learners is a nuanced art. While training and tools provide excellent building blocks for positive, meaningful conversations with learners, nothing can replace the gifts that experience offers. From time to time, we’ll be checking in with our experienced coaches to share their coaching tips on a specific topic— tips designed not only to bring value to the learner, but to the student supporter as well. Today’s topic: Curiosity.
It’s been said that curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning. And frankly, we couldn’t agree more. Curiosity brings a natural flow to the conversation. It enables you to connect with someone in an area where you’re not the expert, and helps you dive deeper into an aspect of a conversation that you otherwise might have missed. Curiosity can also assist you in setting aside implicit bias. And throughout any conversation, it can highlight connections you didn’t expect. Here’s what our coaches have to say.
Let the conversation flow
Keenan Medley, InsideTrack Success Specialist and Coach, remembers what it was like when he first began coaching. “I was focused on making sure that I asked every question so I could fill out my data properly and leave no blanks. But when I listened back to my meeting recordings, I realized that I seemed robotic and had missed opportunities to ask deeper questions. It was almost like I wasn’t fully present in the conversation.” So now when he lets his curiosity guide the conversation, it feels much more natural — for him and his learners. “I learn more about the person I’m talking to and my questions are more relevant,” he adds. He’s also learned that it’s okay not to ask every question. “This has led to more authentic conversations and much better active listening.”
You don’t have to be an expert
“Everyone is capable of coaching,” says InsideTrack Success Specialist and Coach Ashunda Thomas. “You just have to be passionate about what it is that you’re coaching — curious about the topic or the challenges the learner is facing — and that will allow you and your student to thrive.”
Daniel Wood, InsideTrack Success Specialist and Coach, believes you can coach about anything, as long as you have the coaching skills to back you up. “Coaching is universal,” he says. “It can support people by drawing answers out of them that they didn’t realize were already there. You are there to ask the questions to get to that point. And you don’t have to be an expert. All you have to be is curious.”
Follow your curiosity
“Pay attention and listen for the in-between gaps in the conversation when you’re talking to a learner. Or follow your curiosity to ask that one more question, giving you the opportunity to listen some more.” Marcela Joy, InsideTrack Success Coach is a big believer in listening. “Listen more than talk. I think if everybody did that in the world, the world would work really well.” And when it comes to curiosity, their advice is to go all in. “Be curious. When I meet with someone, I try to set aside any preconceived notions or any of my own personal biases and come to the meeting as someone who is truly curious.”
“It’s our job to be curious,” says Natalia Schmidt, Academic Success Coach at InsideTrack. “I support people where they're at, instructing, mentoring, facilitating, and problem-solving. And it all starts by asking a simple question — a question that opens doors. When we think we are done, ask one more question. That gives room for learners to show us what they need and other paths we may want to explore.”
Mila Buckland, InsideTrack Success Specialist and Coach, agrees. “In a conversation with a learner, get to know their needs by being curious and asking thoughtful questions. When the dialogue is winding down or the learner is hesitant to open up, pause... and ask one more question. Doing so can open a new door and help the learner break through to an underlying motivation.
Take the conversation to the next level
InsideTrack Coach Kristin Olson-Huddle says she likes to summarize each student meeting with a question. “There are questions that may have obvious answers, like ‘how do these next steps connect to your success in this class?’ But when I can find a question that I don’t know the answer to — something I’m genuinely curious about — I can take the conversation to a new level. ‘How do these next steps connect to your success in your career plans?’ When it takes the learner a moment to think about the answer, I know we’re touching on something valuable.”
With everything you have going on, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. But sometimes, we just need a reminder to take a step back and let curiosity take over. So let this be your reminder to sit back… and stay curious.
Just like every student has a story, so too do our amazing coaches. They bring their heart, soul, expertise and compassion to every learner interaction. Meet some of them — and watch their stories — to experience the Power of Coaching.
Whether you’re looking to help students persist through completion or to improve career outcomes for job seekers and employees, our holistic coaching solutions can help you achieve meaningful outcomes.