How Coaches Phrase Questions – 3 of 3

Imagine a coach and a client discussing a customer complaint.

* The question “Do you think you should provide a written response?” gives an answer in the question and shuts down the open thinking. This question limits the thinking and the outcome possibilities.
* The question “What are your possible courses of action?” empowers the coaching client to consider multiple options. A client might think about responding to the customer by calling or emailing, explore possibilities for a face-to-face conversation, and consider options for offering a discount or incentive.

Because most people want to be helpful, offering ideas and suggestions is natural. Doing it in the format of a question is learned because it is less forceful or directive. So in the interest of positive communication, a style of questioning that works well as a friend or mentor is completely different when in the role of a coach.

The International Coaches Federation, ICF, publishes core competencies for coaches. One of the core competencies is Powerful Questioning. A well-trained coach focuses on formulating questions that gently push the client to find their own answer. Tips for asking questions include:

* Keep it Short and Simple (KISS)
* Focus forward
* Keep questions open-ended
* Seek to clarify rather than interpret
* Probe for possibilities

Powerful questioning empowers coaching clients.

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