When you ask someone about something that they like to do, you are not simply making small talk. This area of a person’s life is a vast storehouse of skills and resources, and abilities, even in the face of problems.
To begin with you are taking a person who has come to you in a defeated space, with a problem they cannot surmount, and transporting them into an area of their life that works. In doing this you shift their mood from resignation to possibility, and their sense of incompetence to a lived experience of competence and confidence. Like the alchemist, you turn lead into gold.
The second thing you discover as you explore more, is something about the person in front of you. What makes them tick. What they care about. What is important to them, and perhaps even something that they are passionate about. You get a glimpse of their soul.
Once you have thoroughly explored with them you will see an engaged and interested person in front of you. You have generated a relationship by your sincere interest in this thing that they like, and you can then move on to ask them the next pearl:
“Tell me about something that went pear shaped in what you like to do. Some problem that happened that you got through, and is now, no longer a problem” and then ask “how did you do that?” Then, hey presto and abracadabra, a blue print appears in front of you both. The blue print for how this person gets through difficulties.
But wait, there’s more! You can then ask how they learned to do this thing they like to do. How they went from ‘I can’t do this’ to ‘I can do this’ and this magically reveals another blueprint. A ‘how this person learns’ blueprint.
Give it a go and see what you discover. Ask:
What do you like to do?
What is it about that, that you like?
Notice the parts that seem really important to this person and mention them.
Now ask about something that went pear shaped but that they got through and is no longer a problem.
Try to articulate what you hear is their process or blueprint.
Now ask them, when they very first learned this thing, how did they do it? How did they go from ‘I can’t do this’ to ‘I can do this’?
Notice how these blueprints can be applied to getting over any problem, or to learning anything new.