Life coaches have a great responsibility on their shoulders, as they must inspire their clients. Overcoming fears and going beyond limitations is not easy, and this is where coaching conversations become useful.
So, what can be done to speed up this process and reach new solutions? How do career coaches help people grow and deal with challenges?
Coaching questions are a great way to change one’s perspective on things. This is why many professional coaches tested different questions across various niches and subjects.
If you’re interested in this approach, this article brings you examples of the best coaching questions. With these insights, you’ll find valuable resources and learn how to create your own solutions.
Why Are Good Questions Important?
Although giving answers seems like the right approach, it’s not always the most effective method. Powerful coaching questions can get under the surface and encourage clients to grow.
However, finding the right question for the proper client at the right moment is an art in itself. The role of a life coach is not to teach things, but to listen, discover negative patterns, and help clients find the way to a breakthrough.
Contrary to what many believe, coaches don’t achieve this by walking their clients through every step the best coaching questions are the ones that empower others.
Thus, a coaching session today must:
- Help clients set their own goals
- Increase self-awareness
- Improve self-confidence
- Develop an accountability system to measure results
- Empower people to find their value and their path forward
If you ask questions, you’ll be helping your coaching clients with each of these points. Thus, you’ll be raising awareness rather than simply giving instructions. Also, lecturing someone without acknowledging progress is a bad strategy, as it may lead to frustration.
Yet, keep in mind that the most powerful questions can be the simplest ones. It’s not a matter of difficulty, but of impact. Sometimes, a client describes a situation and may believe they have all the answers. However, a simple question can throw them off their track and make them face their current reality. If that’s the case, they’re ready for growth and transformation.
How to Choose the Best Coaching Questions
The first step is to establish what makes a good coaching question. They should not be statements disguised as questions. For example, “Have you tried setting up a home office so you have more time to set up your strategy?” is not a good option.
Such a statement is more of a suggestion than a question, and the person probably has a premade answer. You should aim to ask clients open-ended questions so that you challenge their thinking process. By this, they can gain a whole new personal perspective.
Here is a list of what the best coaching questions should do:
- Create curiosity
- Stimulate a reflective conversation
- Encourage new ways of thinking
- Unveil underlying assumptions
- Stimulate creativity
- Open the mind to new options
- Generate a boost of energy and desire to move forward
- Channel the client’s attention
- Stay with the participants
- Give deep meaning to a conversation
- Provoke more questions
Notice that questions become stronger when they encourage the person to elaborate and reflect. It also helps if they provide a deeper insight into one’s values and actions. A person may be wondering, for example, “Why do I choose this?”, “Why haven’t I tried this before?”, or “How do I start this?”
Luckily, there are a few standardized questions that professional career coaches find useful.
Asking the Best Coaching Questions the Proper Way
Now that we know what the right types of questions are, we can concentrate on how to ask them. On one hand, some of them work better individually, while others are more effective in a sequence. In that case, you would build one question after the other to reach the desired result.
The most important thing is to provoke exploration and reflection. For additional benefit, remember to center them around the client’s capabilities and goals.
Next, you’ll find a few tips to create the best coaching questions:
- Ask open-ended questions that help the clients think and drive the conversation forward.
- Maintain an impartial approach. Avoid leading questions and don’t try to take the person to any particular solution.
- Go with the flow. Don’t try to look for the perfect question. Instead, follow the natural course of the process.
- Use the client’s own words. Thus, you’ll avoid changing what they’re saying.
- Don’t avoid all These can be useful, especially if the client is going off-topic.
- When you try to move the conversation forward, use “what” rather than “why.” The second option may prompt defensiveness and interrupt exploration.
Finally, don’t look for ready-made formulas. Each person is different, and they will react accordingly. When it comes to life coaching questions, there’s no right or wrong. Think of it as a journey rather than a destination.
Good Coaching Questions to Ask Your Clients
A good life coach understands the current situation of the client as well as their goals. The coach’s job is to find where the individual feels insecure and help them overcome obstacles.
These questions will help you understand the client and know in advance what kind of help you can provide.
- Why are you looking for coaching at this point in your life?
- Have you ever worked with a life coach before?
- What do you expect from each coaching session?
- How will you know that you obtained the desired result?
- Is there a reason you chose this particular coaching business?
- Can you describe what you feel are your biggest achievements at this point in your life?
- What was the worst thing that you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it?
- What learning process works best for you?
- Can you name those things that stress you the most?
Best Coaching Questions to Understand the Person’s Mindset
Once you’ve decided to take this new person under your care, it’s time to get to know them. It’s important to understand what makes them happy and what is their highest aspiration in life.
By knowing this, you can help them create more of those happy feelings and possibly establish new goals for the future.
These are some question examples that you can use:
- What types of challenges are you facing right now?
- What matters to you the most at this point in your life?
- What’s on your mind today?
- What opportunities do you see in the near future?
- What topics would you like to cover during this conversation?
- What do you hope to gain from our interaction?
- What would you like to be the outcome of today’s conversation?
- How do you think our session today can help you overcome your present challenge?
- What is the most important thing in your life?
- How happy are you with your life on a scale of one to ten?
- How would you like to feel once our coaching program ends?
This series of questions will help you to realize what the client hopes to achieve from their sessions. You’ll also know whether they need a one-time session or a longer sequence. Now, shift the focus from the problems to the possibilities:
- What would you like to have accomplished once our sessions are over?
- What would be the best possible outcome?
- What do you want to achieve?
- How would you know that the sessions have been successful?
- What would be the next step for you?
- What does success look like to you?
- How will you know if you are successful?
- What is the most significant type of success that you would get from our sessions together?
Best Coaching Questions to Tap Into the Values
Next, you’ll find some powerful coaching questions to help the clients explore their options, values, obstacles, and strengths.
- What is so important to you about this goal?
- When it comes to money, what are you proud of?
- What is the main thing that you want to achieve in your career?
- You respect partners and friends who do what sorts of things?
- Why is health important to you?
- Why are learning and growth important to you?
- Why do you make time for recreation?
- What does spirituality mean to you?
- How does it make you feel to be part of your community?
- Can you identify any common topic among your answers?
- What meaning do you think you can draw from your answers?
The best coaching questions are the ones that invite people to dig deeper into themselves. Self-inquiry is a vital part of the process. With the following questions, you’ll create motivation and commitment and help clients develop their own plans for taking action.
To summarize, ask them what will happen next:
- What information do you need in order to make a decision?
- What can you do now?
- What are you gaining from this conversation that will help you take the next step?
- What kind of support do you need and where will you get it?
- How can I help you?
- What is the best way to motivate yourself?
- At this point, what is the best way you can support yourself?
- If you had no limitations, who would you like to be?
The GROW Model as a Conversational Structure
The GROW Model is widely known as an effective conversational structure. “GROW” stands for “Goal,” “Reality,” “Options,” and “Will.” Thus, each term represents a stage in the coaching process.
Many professionals use the GROW Model including managers and leaders. The reason is simple: it helps employees improve their performance, solve issues, learn new skills, and achieve further goals.
This model works best in brief sessions where you need to cut to the point quite fast. Here you can learn more about the four main steps of the model
You and your client must determine short- and long-term goals. These should be as specific as possible and come from internal motivations. Establishing goals is a very important stage of the process, because the better established the goal is, the more smoothly the rest will go.
Possible goal coaching questions:
- How are you?
- What improved or became worse since our last session?
- What would you like to talk about now?
- What is today’s primary goal?
- Why did you choose that particular goal?
- What benefits will it bring you?
- How will you know that you’ve achieved it?
- How will your life change in the process of reaching this goal?
- What would make the goal more measurable so that you can be certain you’ve achieved it?
- What is the deeper meaning that you find in this goal?
- When do you want to achieve it?
- How will you know that you have obtained the results that you expect?
At this stage, the professional coach must help the client figure out what their current situation is. You’ll both engage in a fact-finding mission focused on assessing the circumstances. Thus, you have to find out the severity of the problems or challenges that they are facing.
All in all, it’s about providing context and bringing to light any issue that the client may not be already aware of.
Here are some examples:
- What is your current position on this goal?
- What have you accomplished so far?
- What have you tried in the past? Did it or did it not work?
- What decisions or events led you to this point?
- Who else is part of this situation and what is their role?
- On a scale of one to ten, where do you feel you are in reaching your goal?
- During this time, what has held you back or made you progress?
- What do you think you need in order to achieve the goal?
- If you ask for that thing, what do you think would happen?
- What could you do differently this time?
- Do you know anybody who has achieved a similar goal? How did they do it?
Now it’s time to develop a plan. Encourage the client to find solutions and take action towards their goal. This is the perfect time to find creative ways to overcome obstacles.
Some questions are:
- What would be the first step towards your goal?
- What would be the next step?
- Is there any other way to do it?
- Who can help you in this process?
- What did you learn from past experiences that may help you now?
- What do you think would happen if you try that again?
- What are the pros and cons of choosing this approach?
- Which possible way do you feel prepared to undertake?
- Do you have enough resources and time?
- If this is not an issue, how will you achieve your goal?
- What obstacles could this option entail?
- What resources do you need to get the desired results?
- Do you need support to achieve your goal? From whom?
Once the goal, the situation, and the course of action have been established, it’s time to work. Help the client identify the exact steps, the persons that will be involved, and the support that they need.
At this stage, the key questions revolve around “what’s next”:
- Which option do you want to choose to take action?
- How can we turn it into a task?
- What is your priority at this stage?
- By what time would you like to complete this?
- How likely is it possible for you to get this done within this timeframe? Choose a number from one to ten.
- How can we make that an eight?
- Are there any obstacles that you foresee?
- What will happen once you achieve the goal?
- What will be your first step?
- How long do you think it will take you to achieve your goal?
- How will you maintain your commitment?
- Who will hold you accountable for this?
- Who will you report to and how will you track your progress?
- What would make the experience more pleasant for you?
- When should we touch base again?
Final Thoughts on the Best Coaching Questions for a Successful Session
A big part of being a successful coach is the ability to ask the right questions. The bottom line is that coaching questions must be open-ended and encourage the client’s thinking process.
Life and career coaches should not give a set of instructions to follow, but rather help people make their own decisions and draw their own conclusions.
But even the best coaching questions must be complemented with the right coaching skills. Active listening, genuine curiosity, and positive behavior are only a few examples of what it takes to be a great coach.
If you enjoyed reading this article about best coaching questions, you should check out this one about life coaching contracts.
We also wrote about a few similar subjects like life coaching intake forms, types of life coaching, coaching vs consulting, personality coaching, coaching apps, transformational life coaching, life coach mission statement, and life coaching niches.
And since we’re talking about coaching topics, make sure to check out these on how to get clients as a life coach, how to make money as a life coach, the coaching business model, being a time management coach, and creating an efficient coaching schedule.