RTC Blog

Assumption vs. Inquiry

What happens at work when one co-worker makes an assumption about another’s bathroom habits?

Non-work-related distraction scenarios are common at work. When handled professionally, they are non-issues. When not handled well, they can escalate into full-blown festuches costing your organization time, productivity, engagement, and money. Examples of these types of issues are exposed tattoos, the smoky coat rack, and today’s scenario, “the office bidet”.

A couple employees in a professional office setting asked the CEO if he would be willing to get a bidet for the co-ed office restroom. He obliged. Within the first couple weeks of the new benefit, one of the employees made an assumption that a VP in the organization was either being exceptionally careless or maybe even deliberately urinating on the toilet in an act of defiance vs. the bidet. She decided to send an email directly to the VPee in question…

“I didn’t have time to stop in and speak with you today, however, I did want to bring up an issue in the restroom. There have been a couple of times I’ve gone into the restroom after you and there was urine all over the toilet seat and on the floor right in front of the toilet bowl. Today, I sat in urine. Very unsatisfactory and awfully gross. Please be mindful that women also use this restroom as I wouldn’t want this to happen to others.”

The VP is caught with his pants down upon receiving this email. He wants to give a quick reaction, but exhibits some level of emotional intelligence (self regulation) to formulate a better response. The VP sends an email to the CEO that says, “I want to call her a liar, but how do I even respond to this?”

The CEO decides to take a crack at it and examine the toilet in question. What he found was not urine, but a leaky bidet…video here…

There are several lessons learned; #1. When you assume, you may make an ass in front of you and me. #2. It’s usually better to inquire with someone directly vs sending an email. #3. If you have never tried a bidet, it’s a game-changer, but be sure to test the new bidet for leaks.

Feel free to add your own lessons learned and bathroom puns in the comments below.

RealTime Coaching Tip #7: Listen for the Coachee’s Story

A competent coach is able to hear what the coachee is saying without projecting his or her own experience onto the story. A coach listens carefully to get insights to help the coachee.

Everyone interprets what happens to them through his or her own worldview and self-view. Based on this, everyone creates his or her own story. By recognizing when and how the coachee is constructing their own story, the coach will better understand why that person is behaving as they are. These insights will give the coach a better chance of helping the coachee.

Everyone views their life through their particular “lens.” It is as if they are sitting in a movie theatre, watching their life on the screen and they are the only person in the theatre. If the coach comes in and starts watching that movie, the coach may think, “This doesn’t look right to me.” The coach may even see himself or herself as a character in the movie, but the portrayal will not look right to the coach. That is because it is not the coach’s movie. It is the coachee’s movie. It is their story— their life as they see it—not as the coach or anyone else might see it.

Bonus RealTime Coaching blog reference: realtimecoaching.com “Name an Animal That Swims”

RealTime Coaching Masterclass

I am happy to announce a new RealTime Coaching program I am calling the RTC Masterclass. RTC Masterclass takes an individualized LMS approach combining virtual work with live coaching. RTC masterclass has 6 hours of total work/time investment:

  • 1.5 hours of videos via 11 sessions
  • 2.5 of hours of reading/exercises via the RTC workbook and 2 books that are included
  • 2 hours of live meets with Ryan Lisk (or your individual RTC coach)

How it works:

  • Participant signs up and is sent the three physical books
  • Once participant has the materials, they complete RTC Masterclass bundle #1 which has 4 sessions. 
  • Each session has its own instructions indicating which pages to read and exercises to complete along with at least one video from me (some sessions have links to external coaching videos).
  • Session #1 “Intro to RTC”: (7 minute video)
  • Session #2 “Your Learning Objectives”: (2 minute video)
  • Session #3: “Let’s Coach”: (2 minute video from me with links to other coaching videos)
  • Session #4 “Do-To, Do-For, Do-With”: (10 minute video from me with link to external video)
  • After Session #4, the participant has follow up call #1 with Ryan. 
  • Once this call is complete, RTC Masterclass bundle #2 is released via email to the participant with 5 sessions
  • RTC Session #5: “RTC Revealed”: (7 minute video)
  • RTC Session #6: “What Do You Want”: (7 minute video)
  • RTC Session #7: “What Are You Doing”: (5 minute video)
  • RTC Session #8: “Is What You Are Doing Getting You What You Want”: (6 minute video)  
  • RTC Session #9: “What Is Your Plan”:  (7 minute video)
  • Session #10 will be emailed separately: “Inquiry vs Assumption”: (6 minute video)
  • Session #11 emailed separately: “RTC Exercises”: (24 minute video)
  • After session #11, participant completes 10-question Final Exam and emails to Ryan and schedules graduation live call
  • Graduation: Final live session with Ryan
  • Participant Teach-back
  • Review prep for a coaching conversation
  • Participant provides survey feedback
  • Participant receives graduation certificate indicating completion of 6 hours of RealTime Coaching The Basics

Pricing: I am offering the entire RTC Masterclass at an introductory launch price of $299.

To sign up or for more information, email me: [email protected]

What it Means to be Coachable

Not everyone is coachable. What does it even mean to be coachable? Are you coachable? Look at this “Coaching Readiness Scale” created by Lee Hecht Harrison and assign yourself a level.

If you gave yourself a Level 3, 4, or 5 you believe you are coachable. The biggest difference between Level 4 and Level 5 is usually a Level 4 is a “good soldier” and the coach is pulling level 4’s. A level 5 is proactive and pulling the coach (in a positive manner) throughout. If you gave yourself a level 1 or 2 you are probably not ready and you are more likely to view coaching somewhere between “a total waste of my time” and “not providing me any real value”.

Here’s an example of a level 2 when it comes to coaching readiness.

Dilbert by Scott Adams

Here’s level 1

The NCSA wrote a nice piece on what it means for a student-athlete to be coachable here: https://www.ncsasports.org/recruiting/how-to-get-recruited/coachable?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=blog&utm_campaign=article_1&mktgcid=newsletter

According to the NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) 35% of college coaches put “character” as the #1 attribute they look for in a recruit ahead of both athletic ability and academics.

NCSA describes the difference between being coachable and uncoachable

Coachable: Understands criticism is not personal, responds positively to criticism by listening and applying feedback, and applies what they’ve been taught to improve their game.

Uncoachable: Takes criticism personally, becomes defensive when receiving feedback, and fails to apply what they’ve been taught.

The coach definitely plays an important role in this relationship and there are coaches more effective than others. We will explore what it means to be a good coach on a different day. For today, think about how coachable you are as well as those you work with.

If you are looking for a RealTime executive coach that brings a simple, practical, entrepreneurial style to the coaching process, send me an email: [email protected]

Getting Started with Styles

Teams are made up of people. These people have roles such as players, staff, coaches, and others. In order for the individuals and the team to get what they want, they have to take action; we call this Doing. There are two types of Doing: Stats and Styles. Stats are the WHAT of your actions, they are your results and are usually measured by a Yes, a No, or a Number. Examples of stats are: Wins/Losses, new Revenue, and employee turnover. Stats can be found everywhere but each individual needs stats to know if they are doing a good job or not.

The other side of Doing is Styles. Every individual on a team has their own preference for HOW they communicate and HOW they get their “Stats” accomplished.  This is their Doing “Style”.  Don’t mistake Doing Style for “Personality Style”.  Every individual’s personality is made up of far more characteristics than their “Doing Style”.  Doing is observable behavior. 

Have you ever noticed some people are super-competitive; others just want to have fun; others don’t really say much, and yet others seem to be very analytical.  That’s because we all have our own natural style of HOW we communicate and get things done. 

Some leaders use a “my way or the highway” communication approach.  We call this “The Golden Rule” of communication because these people are leading or coaching others the way they prefer to be communicated with. 

Ryan’s Sidenote:  Worse than The Golden Rule is coaching others the way you used to be coached (not being yourself).    

The best leaders are practicing “The Platinum Rule”:  Communicating with others the way they prefer to be communicated with.  The Platinum Rule only requires a small adjustment, not an overhaul of your own style.

It can take 3-6 months for you to realize your communication mistakes you are making with another person on your team.  If you are in sports, in 6 months the season may be over.  You must accelerate your communication time to effectiveness (TTE). Credit to Brent Patmos for the term TTE. 

There are three levels when coaching to styles:

  1. Understand your own style
  2. Appreciate not everyone has the same style as you
  3. Adapt/tweak your style to others for better results

How to Identify Styles

If you are new to coaching styles, you may want to invest in a tool that measures styles.  We recommend TTI Success Insights Style Insights tool.  This tool provides options:  4 styles (basic), 8 styles (intermediate) and 12 styles (advanced). 

If you want to do-it-yourself, there are two questions that will allow you to classify yourself and others into one of the four basic categories. 

Question #1:  Is the person more outgoing or reserved?

Question #2:  Does the person focus on people-first or task-first?

Depending on your answers, you will get one of the following four categories:

  • Outgoing/Task-First:  This style is “Direct”.  Direct styles enjoy challenges, tend to just talk “business”, and want to win.
  • Outgoing/People-First:  This style is “Outgoing”.  Outgoing styles enjoy being with other people, are usually optimistic, and like to have fun.
  • Reserved/People-First:  This style is “Steady” or “Predictable”.  Predictable styles are consistent, reliable, and loyal.
  • Reserved/Task-First:  This style is “Precise”.  Precise styles are logical, analytical, and like things done the right way. 

Case Study

You are the coach/leader of this 21-person team.  You are using Lisk Associates and the TTI Style Insights tool to create a team wheel.  Your style is Outgoing (yellow). 

  • Red dots = Direct styles
  • Yellow dots = Outgoing styles
  • Green dots = Predictable styles
  • Blue dots = Precise styles

If you are practicing The Golden Rule, your natural style is resonating with the six other yellow players on the team (29%).  Your natural style will not work as well with 71% of the team. 

You may be saying things like:

  • Trust me
  • It’s going to all work out
  • This will be fun

The yellow dots seem to get it.  

The blue dots don’t seem to believe you (you lack stats/ scouting report). 

The red dots just want to win (you lack a winning strategy/gameplan). 

The green dots don’t seem to really care (you lack a playbook/process).

Lauren Sanderson from Colgate Volleyball got it when she told me, “I observed only 20% of volleyball athletes fit the “Michael Jordan” Direct profile, so you need to communicate with the other 80% differently than you may think.”


  • On a scale of 1-10, how well do you know your style and the style of others on your team?
  • How is your style helping you?
  • What is your style costing you?
  • What are you going to do to get buy-in from the other 70% of your team? 

For strategies to improve your communication with others’ styles and advanced coaching to styles, reach out to me and let’s get started:  [email protected]

RTC Scenario: Feedback on Twitter; What Would You Do?

Hello everyone and welcome to another version of “RTC: what would you do?”. Here’s today’s RTC scenario:

You are the executive coach for a mid-sized sports bar/restaurant owner, “Matt”. Matt is into many ventures and is probably best known for hosting a successful radio show. He is certainly considered a local celebrity and has recently become a national media host. He is active on social media and at the time of writing this scenario Matt has over 223,000 followers on Twitter.

Recently, a customer to his restaurant, “John” went to Twitter to provide some feedback to Matt on his recent visit to the restaurant. On Sunday 10-3-21 at 2:31 PM John tweeted: “@KSBarandGrille was told “we only have one cook, we didn’t expect to be this busy”. It’s Sunday during NFL season and they are a sports bar. What a joke.” At the time of writing this scenario John has 136 followers on Twitter.

AT 6:59 PM that same night Matt replied on twitter: “Tell you what John, we would love to have you come to the back and see how hard our cooks have worked this weekend during a huge worker shortage while we have been amazingly short staffed. Maybe salute the one cook we had working his ass off and don’t be a jerk.”

Matt has said several times, “don’t ever punch down, always punch up.” Your next coaching meet with Matt is tomorrow. As Matt’s coach, what are you going to do? I look forward to your thoughts, comments, replies, and questions.

I’ve Been Letting Things Slide. When Should I Take Action?

Today ends the first half of the year. Have you been “letting things slide”? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a trend I’ve been hearing from leaders since the pandemic…..They say to me, “Well, Ryan, her team has been short-handed.” Or, “I was just wanting to get through this season.” Or, “They were working remotely and I just didn’t do their review.” The issues are many and include everything from showing up late, to not getting work done, to not being proactive, to breaking team rules. No matter the story or the issue, they all involve people, standards, culture, and results. These issues are not new. They have been happening for years. However, employees and teammates have been “protected by the pandemic” and leaders have been letting things slide.

The best leaders inject themselves into the story, acknowledging they have let things slide and they are ready to fix it. You may be someone who is ready for things to get back to the way they were, but you have to untie some things that have gotten knotted up over the past year. The question is….Is it too late? How do I even get started?

Let’s get started by determining how urgent and important the issue is. I was introduced to the Urgent+Important quadrants from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. A recent RTC participant (Thanks Alan) sent an article from todoist.com called The Eisenhower Matrix.

RTC takes a new look at this classic matrix by asking two questions:

#1. On a scale of 1-10, how Urgent is it this issue gets resolved?

#2. On a scale of 1-10, how Important is the issue?

If the total number of the 2 questions is 15 or higher, it’s time to take action. It’s that simple. (Ryan’s styles sidenote: If you have a naturally more Urgent style, you may need to adjust your scale up 2 points and if you have a naturally more Reflective style, you may need to adjust your scale down 2 points).

You’ve determined it’s time to take action, but you don’t know how to start. Every situation is unique, our process is the same. I will suggest two ways for you to get started.

#1. Here is a template to help get your mind unstuck and get your thoughts together. It’s called Prep For A Coaching Conversation. You should invest 10-15 minutes completing the 20 questions (you should recognize question #2).

#2. 6 months from now, you have fixed the issue and things are going great, what has changed? Your answer to this question determines your WANT for this issue. The WANT drives the action, the action delivers a result.

It’s time to stop letting things slide, recognizing what’s important+urgent, determining your want, establishing a RealTime plan of action, and being able to answer to yourself 6 months from now how things are going.

RTC Tip #34: Close the Loop with a Plan

A typical coaching cycle usually takes place over a number of conversations, often lasting weeks or months. Each conversation becomes a step along the path toward success (what you want). As a leader, you want to create ownership or accountability with your coachees by #1. Making sure each conversation ends with a SMART plan (see RTC tip #27: Create SMART plans) and #2. Begin each subsuquent conversation with a review of the progress made from the previous conversation’s plan.

During this review, it should be easy for both you and the coachee to determine if the plan was completed (often the answers can be as simple as a “yes” “no” or “a number”). Now, you have helped the coachee be accountable for working towards what they want to achieve.

The plan is called the achilles heel of the RealTime coaching process. What happens when you don’t have a SMART plan? The plan comes off track with distractions such as rehashing old issues, lack of clarity about what the coachee was supposed to do, and excuses. Basically, a lack of ownership or accountability.

The plan keeps the coaching conversation loop closed and progress moving forward.

Keep RealTime Coaching!

RTC Tip #25: Diagnose Before Prescribing

RealTime Coaching is based on Dr. William Glasser’s original works known as Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. Glasser was seen as revolutionary for actually diagnosing his patients before prescribing a treatment. In many instances, he found his patients did not have a medical condition at all, they simply needed a behavioral course correction.

Today, the best leaders and coaches still believe in diagnosing before prescribing. Actions, improvements, and results are ultimately the responsibility of the person being coached. However, when things are not working as planned, a coach should continually diagnose for problems. Here are four questions to help diagnose potential gaps.

#1. Does the person have sufficient awareness of the need for change? Do they even know there is an issue? Does the person understand the consequences for not changing? On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for the person to make the change?

#2. Does the person feel a strong enough sense of urgency? The coach may ask, “What do you think will happen if you continue doing the same thing you’ve been doing?” Sometimes a person is interested in change, but not committed to change. On a scale of 1-10, how urgent is it this change happens? Ryan’s note: If the 1-10 scores for these two questions add up to 15 or higher, then the person has deemed the issue both important and urgent enough to take action.

#3. Has the person created a SMART plan? A goal without a plan is just wishful thinking.

#4. What has the person done differently? Have they taken any action? If yes, this new action is known as a “behavioral shift”. If the person has not taken any action, review their scores from questions 1 and 2 to be sure importance and urgency are high enough. If necessary, re-check the plan….Is any of the SMART criteria missing? What did the person indicate they would do? By when? Were there roadblocks or surprises? If they “don’t know”, a coach may ask, “What is more important to you than making this change?”

And the diagnosis continues. The best prescriptions come from the person being coached. Keep coaching.

3 RTC Tips from an FBI Hostage Negotiator

Chris Voss is a retired FBI hostage negotiator. I just finished his Masterclass on Negotiation. Here are three “sticky” questioning techniques you could add to your RealTime Coaching toolkit.

#1. Mirroring Questions. Mirroring is a way to ask a question by using the last 3-5 words the person says back to them in the form of a question to get them to expound on their statement. For instance, here is a conversation adapted from our RealTime Coaching book between two cavemen named Fred and Barney.

Fred: “Man, I’m starving and I’m sick of eating vegetables.”

Barney: “Sick of eating vegetables?” (Mirroring question)

Fred: “Yeah, I’d like to get my hands on some meat from that beast out there.”

Barney: “Beast out there?” (Mirroring question)

Fred: “Yeah. The problem is it’s huge and I may end up being the entree, but I’m starving.”

I have people say, “Ryan, I knew exactly what I wanted to say but I was thrown off by something the other person did/said.” Mirroring will help keep you on track because you must listen to the person as you’re going to repeat back to them their last 3-5 words to formulate the next question…..which leads to questioning technique #2.

#2. Labeling Questions. I have always been taught “when we label, we disable.”. This form of labeling takes a different context and it almost falls into the category of empathy or emotional intelligence. Labeling is a way of asking a question to elicit the true Want of a situation by using the two phrases “It sounds like….” or “It seems like….”. Picking up on our caveman conversation:

Barney: “It sounds like you’re really committed to this meal?” (Labeling question)

Fred: “You bet.”

Barney: “It seems like you’re ready to do something about it?” (Labeling question)

Fred: “Yes I am. I’m thinking about doing something tomorrow.”

#3. Calibrated Questions. Those of you familiar with WDIP will appreciate the calibrated questions. Calibrated questions always start with “What” or “How”. These types of questions help us uncover Wants, Doing and Plan actions. Chris says, “Stay away from Why questions as they naturally make people defensive.” Continuing from our example:

Barney: “What have you done so far to prepare?” (Calibrated question)

Fred: “I have been sharpening my weapon.”

Barney: “And what else?” (Ryan’s bonus question, the AWE question taken from The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier)

Fred: “Well, not much really, I’ve been busy. I’ve been thinking about it thought. He’s just so big.”

Barney: “He’s so big?” (Mirroring question)

Fred: “Yeah, I’m not sure I could even conquer him by myself. I wish I was bigger.”

Barney: “How could you make yourself bigger?” (Calibrated question)

Fred: “I don’t know.”

Barney: “I know you don’t know, but what if you did know?” (Another Ryan bonus question from Lee Hecht Harrison called Reframe the Picture)

Fred: “I wish I was twice my size.”

Barney: “What could you do to double your size?” (Calibrated Question)

Fred thinks for a minute and says: “Hey Barney, what are you doing tomorrow?”

And off they go….

Notice how Barney actually influenced Fred….by asking questions and “Do-With”. It would have been easy for Barney to give Fred advice (Do-To) or maybe even slay the beast for Fred (Do-For). However, Barney kept the responsibility of the opportunity with Fred and will join him tomorrow on the hunt.

Adding mirroring questions, labeling questions, and calibrated questions to your RTC toolkit will make you a more effective leader, communicator, and negotiator. Keep coaching.