Asking the right questions: Things I've learnt coaching

One of the most valuable skills a coach possesses is the ability to ask the right questions. Skillful questioning not only uncovers insights but also empowers clients to find their own solutions.


In this article, we'll explore the art of asking effective coaching questions and provide 10 tips to help you refine this crucial skill.

The power of skilful questioning

1. Establishing trust and rapport

Effective coaching begins with building trust and rapport. Start with open-ended, non-threatening questions that encourage clients to open up. This sets a foundation for a productive coaching relationship.

2. Active listening

A coach must be an active listener. Pay attention not only to the words but also to the tone, body language, and emotions behind them. This enables you to formulate questions that dig deeper.

3. Focusing on goals and objectives

Understand your client's goals and objectives thoroughly. Tailor your questions to align with their aspirations, ensuring that every query serves a purpose in their journey.

4. Avoiding assumptions

Assumptions can hinder progress. Instead of assuming, ask clarifying questions. This demonstrates genuine interest and ensures that you have a complete understanding of the client's perspective.

5. Balancing open and closed questions

A balanced mix of open-ended and closed questions is essential. Open-ended questions encourage reflection and exploration, while closed questions can be useful for obtaining specific information.

6. Challenging assumptions and beliefs

Skilled coaches know how to gently challenge their clients' assumptions and beliefs. This encourages self-reflection and the potential for transformative growth.

10 tips for asking great coaching questions

1. Start with open-ended questions

Open-ended questions invite clients to share their thoughts and feelings freely. Begin with prompts like:

  • "Can you tell me more about that?"
  • "What are your thoughts on this?"
  • "How do you feel about the situation?"

2. Use empowering language

Empower your clients by framing questions in a positive light. For example:

  • "What steps can you take to move forward?"
  • "How can you leverage your strengths in this situation?"
  • "What resources do you have available?"

3. Be curious and inquisitive

Curiosity drives exploration and growth. Ask questions that delve deeper into a client's experiences, such as:

  • "What did you learn from that experience?"
  • "Why is this important to you?"
  • "How can you apply this insight in the future?"

4. Encourage self-reflection

Help your clients gain insights by asking reflective questions like:

  • "What are your strengths in this area?"
  • "What have you learned from previous challenges?"
  • "How would you like to see yourself grow in this aspect?"

5. Explore options and alternatives

Foster creativity and resourcefulness by posing questions like:

  • "What other approaches could you consider?"
  • "What if you approached this from a different angle?"
  • "What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of each option?"

6. Clarify and summarise

Ensure you have a clear understanding of your client's thoughts and feelings by asking for clarification, such as:

  • "Can you elaborate on that point?"
  • "If I understand correctly, you're saying..."
  • "Am I capturing your perspective accurately?"

7. Acknowledge and validate emotions

Emotions play a crucial role in decision-making and growth. Acknowledge and validate your client's feelings with questions like:

  • "How are you feeling about this situation?"
  • "What emotions are coming up for you right now?"
  • "How can we work with these emotions to move forward?"

8. Hold space for silence

Sometimes, the most profound insights arise in moments of silence. Allow space for your clients to think and process their thoughts before responding.

9. Follow up with action-oriented questions

Ensure that your coaching sessions lead to tangible progress by asking action-oriented questions, like:

  • "What specific steps will you take to implement this plan?"
  • "When will you start?"
  • "What support do you need to succeed?"

10. Seek feedback on your questions

Encourage your clients to share how they found your questions. This feedback loop helps you refine your approach and tailor future inquiries more effectively.

Mastering the art of asking the right questions is a cornerstone of effective coaching. By employing these 10 tips, you can enhance your coaching practice and guide your clients towards transformative growth and success. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single question. Start asking the right ones today!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW1V & NW1
Written by Rebecca Cockayne, BA. (Oxon), MSc, GDL | Delphi Coaching
London SW1V & NW1

Bex is a coach who loves journeys. She's done a lot and has been on many internal and external ones. She loves to help people long their path too.

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