Eric Klein’s One Best Question

Today I’m talking to Eric Klein, author of the bestselling book Awakening Corporate Soul. In this podcast, he shares his one best question that resonates, has impact and brings out the best in others.


Full Transcript

Michael: I’m Michael Bungay Stanier. You’re listening to The Coaching Habit Podcast, where you get to hear the best strategies for leading yourself and others by tapping into the wisdom of thinkers, leaders, writers, and coaches, and in this case, besties, because Eric is one of my best friends. I’m talking to Eric Klein. He is one of the few people who is both a bestselling leadership author. Awakening the Corporate Soul is his bestselling book, but he’s written a number of them. But he is, also, an ordained lineage holder in a spiritual practice, so he brings a unique combination. He’s, also, been a member of my mastermind brain trust group for the last 10 years. So, I’ve spent a lot of quality time hanging out with Eric, and I love him dearly.

So, I’m excited to have you on the podcast with me today, and talking about this very specific piece about your one best question. So, Eric, welcome.

Eric Klein: Thank you. Thank you. Happy to be here.

Michael: I’m happy to have you here. You’ve asked me so many good questions over the years, but I am going to pin you down to one.

Eric Klein: All right.

Michael: If there’s one best question, one that you go to, one that you love, one that you see that continues to resonate and have impact, which one would you offer up?

Eric Klein: The question I like to ask people, and I like to ask myself, is a question that I like to use after I have heard someone talking about either what they’re struggling with, or what they say their goals are, or what they believe their solutions are, and after I’ve reflected that back, whether it’s in my own mind or to somebody outside, then I like to pause and say to them, “Okay. So, what is it that you really want?”

Michael: That’s great. Why does that land so powerfully?

Eric Klein: Because so often, we come up with solutions that are designed to move us away from the hard challenge … To move us away from really engaging with the deep challenge and the core work that’s actually embedded in the situation. We figure out a way to relieve the symptoms, would be a way of saying it, rather than to cure the deep cause of what’s often a repetitive challenge. It keeps coming up, like a hydra. We cut one head off, but all these heads keep popping up.

In that story, you got to get to the true source, the true heart of the issue, and so this question, after empathetically reflecting back all the things that someone might say, and even empathetically reflecting back my own thinking about my own life, then the question is, “What is it you really want?”

Michael: I love that. As people know, we do three connected interviews as part of The Coaching Habit Podcast, the main one, this one focused on the one best question, and then one looking at two sources of wisdom. In the longer one, you and I talked about the sequencing of questions and the power of that, and I think there’s a sequence that can happen with this question as well, and for me, it sounds this, and to your point that you made in the previous interview, tone and timing can really have an impact here.

But, for me, I go, “So, what do you want, and what else do you want, and what else do you want? Okay. So, what do you really want?”

Eric Klein: Beautiful.

Michael: For me, having those earlier questions, what do you want, kind of provide a little bit of momentum, or a kind of scrim board, or a few steps into that piece, because if you come too fast at what you really want, it can be too hard a question, because it’s a big, big question. It’s such a foundational thing to sit with, and look at, and answer. It’s a question that provokes a great deal of vulnerability I think.

Eric Klein: I think that is so right, and I just want to reinforce taking the time to get there, to allow yourself and others to articulate all of the maybe less central, but, also, important desires, which are there and need to be acknowledged, because that allows a relaxation to come into the psychological system, where then there’s an openness to take that deeper dive.

Michael: Beautiful. Speaking of deeper dives, Eric, if people want to take a deeper dive into the swimming pool of Eric Klein, where can they find you online?

Eric Klein: There’s two places to look. If you want to bring the kind of deeper conversation, and even the meditative awareness, mindful awareness into your organization, you can go to If you are personally interested in cultivating a meditative habit and a meditative awareness in your personal life, you can find tons of resources at

Michael: I’m a man who has raided and used many of the resources, and I can celebrate what a great treasure trove that is, so I’d encourage people to jump in and have a look there.

Eric, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you.

Eric Klein: Thank you.




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Box of Crayons

Box of Crayons

Box of Crayons helps organizations transform from advice-driven to curiosity-led.

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