12 useful coaching questions based on the FIRO-B

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Checkers Dessert Menu on Vinyl 3 by FredMikeRuby via FlickrPersonality questionnaires then and now

Almost a century ago, In the early flurrie of personality testing, it seems we were drawn to models that sorted us into types and then subdivided types with a secondary, intuitively appealing question such as what do we do under pressure, or what do we show and what do we want.

These days, we tend to describe personality along 5 lines.  We are regarded as having more-or-less extraversion, emotionality, openess, conscientiousness and agreeability.   We simply measure you on each and draw a ‘profile’ which we then reconstruct into a story you can understand.

Here is a version of the ‘Big Five’ from You Just Get Me.  As ever, long to fill out but with a cool interface.

Old Tests and Corporate Coaching

The older tests might be a lot clumsier in their formulation, and almost impossible to use in scientific models and investigations, but they are a lot easier for lay people to grasp and intuit.  We are also slow to change our ways and they are found in training rooms across the corporate world.

One very popular test is the Firo B.  We are measured on the extent to which we ask for or demand inclusion, control and affection and the extent to which we secretly want the same.  Some people, for example, will be inclusive to others but don’t  want a lot of inclusion themselves.  Others are the opposite.  They don’t include anyone but want to be included.  And so it is with control and affection too.

12 Coaching Questions

As a coaching tool, the FIRO-B leads to some good coaching questions that people find useful in understanding their style and preferences and how other people might experience them.

Preferences about inclusivity

If they are very including, they  can ask themselves whether they give others enough space?

If they are not including in their style and mannerism, do they ensure that everyone gets an equal chance to participate?

If they like to be included, they can ask themselves whether they expect others to seek their input unprompted and whether they take the trouble to ask for the input of others?

If they  don’t like to be included, do they meet with their team often enough to satisfy their needs?

Preferences for control

If I talk a lot about having everything organized and under control, do I also talk a lot about my ideas at the expense of the ideas of others?

If I am dismissive or disinterested in order and control, can I let people who like to be organized have their heads and set priorties?

If I have a strong need to be organized, do I regularly test whether it matters if a plan or arrangement is flexible or ambiguous?

I f I have a deep dislike for any order or organization, is it simply a personal need for independence or is there a real problem that should concern every one else too?

Preference for affection

If I am generally a very affectionate and expressive person, could I intrude less on others?

If I generally don’t welcome displays of affection and emotion, would it be possible to support and encourage others more

If I have a strong need for attention and interaction with others, am I too dependent on feedback on my work?

If I have little need for attention and interaction with others, does my emotional distance prevent me from being seen as supportive?

Use these questions at home!

Yes, do.  But don’t over-reflect.  The idea in coaching is to find something you can do that will bring greated comfort and effectiveness for both you and your colleagues.

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