Powerful Coaching Questions

Coach versus a Mentor?

What are the different types of questions?

  • Closed – Can be answered with one word or a short phrase. Closed questions limit the space for answers and for exploration.
  • Open – Opens the door for a fuller answer.
  • Judging – Includes an opinion. Judgmental questions assume the asker is better than, or knows more, which is a false assumption.
  • Probing – Seeks a greater Powerful Coaching Questionsawareness.
  • Interpreting – Includes perception. Interpreting involves assuming.
  • Clarifying – Seeks more information.
  • Leading – Gives an answer or two in the question. Leading questions tell the person asked how to answer and thus limit the possibilities.
  • Inviting – Solicits thinking and brainstorming.

How do you formulate powerful questions in coaching?

  • Ask short, simple questions.

The mistake is in thinking that a longer question is clear when in reality it is confusing. A common error is to explain the question as if the person being asked were unable to figure it out themselves, and in fact the explanation interrupts their thinking.

  • Ask questions that are open to possibilities.

Instead of assuming something or giving a possible answer, a powerful question is asked without knowing the answer. Questions that start with is, any, can, do, will, could, should, would, or have are automatically closed and often also leading.

  • Ask questions that support a focus on the future.

Digging into the past is outside the scope of coaching (it is in the area of therapy). Coaching is about future goals, strategies, and action planning.

  • Ask questions that invite thinking out loud and brainstorming.
  • Ask questions with words that work for the person being asked.

In coaching, most questions start with what or how. Sometimes who, when, or where is asked.

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