One of the primary activities of a coach during coaching sessions is to ask questions. How questions are asked makes a huge difference for the client in their focus when thinking and responding. An excellent coach knows how to open the thinking so the client chooses focus and priorities. Basics include asking open-ended, clarifying, probing, and advice-free questions.
Imagine the impact on the client when the coach spends time explaining a question. The longer and more involved the question and / or the explanation, the more boxed in the client in responding. For example, asked simply, “what do you want?” empowers the client to consider multiple areas of their life and choose which they want to talk about. When a coach explains the question with “in your career,” the client is boxed in. The client may have wanted to discuss health or a relationship or even a problem at work, and the explanation changed their focus.
Sometimes a coach asks a question that boxes a client in and actually creates a barrier. Sometimes a leading question or a question that gives an answer closes the exploration of possibilities and potentially damages the client. A question that interprets might create misunderstanding. An excellent coach learns to formulate questions appropriately.
An excellent coach recognizes the power of the questions and actively seeks information on effective questioning skills. An excellent coach serves their client effectively with questions that empower the client to openly consider possibilities, explore priorities, and strategize action.