Tell me if this sounds familiar.
You have several half-read books on Amazon and ton of bookmarked articles in your laptop browser. You’ve got heaps sitting on your nightstand, and a few more stuffed in your study drawer.
You’ve invested a fortune in your coaching education (for the right reasons).
You care about your client’s growth and naturally, want to make a lasting difference with each coaching session.
And because you’re a passionate and driven coach, you scrutinise your coaching manuals and material that you’ve gathered through in the past months.
Perhaps, you’re looking for the one definite answer – a magic formula, model, methodology that has an uncanny power to leave a lasting, positive impact on your client’s life.
The truth is, as a coach, you will come across a myriad of situations with your clients.
Your client will go on an emotional roller-coaster; throw you a curveball; throw themselves a curveball and then complain that “it’s all so hard”.
They will quote every excuse in the book to resist change.
They will get tense, stiffen, or feel nervous about what’s going on in their life.
They will block progress, intentionally or unintentionally.
You get the drift.
In short, every client you’ll ever coach will be unique; every coaching session you’ll ever do will be different than the previous one.
You, as their coach, will intuitively decide and play the role of a cheer-leader, collaborator, brainstormer, facilitator, inspirer, mismatcher, challenger, provoker, reflector, or a guide.
In other words, you expand that range to include many possible emotions, so you’re comfortable with experiencing them, and getting out of their way, thus making it about them and not you.
Questions are incredibly powerful tools to achieve just that. Asking great questions lies at the heart of transformational coaching. When we ask great questions, we set a framework which allows exploration, discovery, transformation and empowerment.
Here is a handy list of 57 questions you can use to explore beyond surface-level coaching, calibrate your client, build solid rapport and be more “present” for them.
Everything we do is a strategy – from driving a car to brushing your teeth to pouring yourself a glass of water to making a million-dollar business decision. Therefore it’s important for you to elicit your client’s strategy – or how they do something.
1. When you think about doing that, what do you feel inside you?
2. How do you know it’s time to be ____ (sad, happy, nervous etc.)?
3. What’s the first thing that has to happen so you know it’s time to feel sad?
4. What happens after that? Once you think the sad thought? What happens next? Do you just feel sad, or does something else have to happen?
5. To what extent?
6. How much?
7. How important is this?
8. How does this compare to X?
9. How real does that feel to you?
10. How often would you do that?
11. Who do you know that has done ___ really well (achieved wealth, health, fulfillment, ran a marathon etc.)?
12. What have they achieved?
13. What do you think were their thoughts when they began?
14. What’s their attitude toward success?
15. Describe their beliefs about themselves before their accomplishments?
16. How can we use them as a model to achieve the same level of success?
A presupposition is a linguistic assumption. This is an advanced technique that fast tracks the client’s awareness and opens up possibilities.
17. How can we turn this around?
18. How does this get resolved?
19. How is this working for you?
20. What’s going to be different for you moving forward?
21. Who is on your support team to help you achieve that outcome?
Deductive questions explore what is whereas inductive questions explore what could be.
22. How can we approach this differently?
23. What if you were without fear?
24. How would this be different if you weren’t answerable to anyone?
25. Let’s assume the ____ doesn’t exist – what would you do differently?
Frame questions help determine the scope of your client’s goal.
26. What else you need to consider in order to achieve this outcome?
27. Who do you need to be on your team for this?
28. What books would help you?
39. What skills would help you?
30. Whom can you model to achieve this goal?
These questions get clients to understand the bigger picture and explore the “why” behind things that are important to them.
31. Here is a possible coaching conversation:
Coach: Great. Let’s chunk this up further to get to the bigger purpose behind this goal, shall we?
Coach: For what purpose, would you like to get this promotion?
Client: Because I want to get recognised for my efforts.
Coach: Okay. And for what purpose is that important for you?
Client: Because it gives me this feeling that I’m making a huge difference.
Coach: Great! And what’s the highest intention of that…
Sometimes, the client will get caught in the noise. The following questions will help you get your client unstuck:
32. How can we turn this around?
33. What’s the bottom line?
34. What needs to change here?
35. Is this strategy working? If not, what needs to go?
36. How about we take it for a spin and see what’s under the hood?
Laser questions get to the heart of the matter.
37. How are you limiting yourself right now?
38. How’s that working out for you?
39. What’s going to get you moving from here?
40. What do you need to do for this to change?
41. How can you take more responsibility here?
42. What must be different for us to achieve this?
43. What do you need to do?
44. How can we turn this around?
45. What’s the easiest way to make this happen?
46. How can I support you?
47. How about we play some more and see how we feel?
How do you eat an elephant? Bite by bite! If the client commits to too much, they are likely to fail, leading in turn to a lack of confidence in their abilities to embrace change.
48. What is the next best step?
49. What is the one thing you can do?
50. What is one thing you can do to approach this differently?
51. If you were to stretch yourself right now, what’s the one thing you’d do?
52. What’s going on for you now that makes this OK to continue?
53. What’s missing?
54. What’s the payoff of staying stuck?
55. Is it hard, or is it unfamiliar?
56. How would someone you respect approach this?
57. How will you know when you’ve got there?
There you go – 57 empowering coaching questions that you can use in your coaching today.
As a coach, what’s your favourite coaching question that never ceases to amaze you? Perhaps you have your own list that gets you faster results (and I may have missed them). Share your coaching questions in the comments below!