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101 Incredible Coaching Questions

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Questions

Every new coach wants to know…what are THE coaching questions??

So here they are: Powerful Questions, Open-ended Questions, Curious Questions, Clarifying Questions, Possibility Questions, Golden Questions. Do you know the difference? When and how could you use them?

Truth is, there are at least 100,000 great coaching questions and it won’t be long before there are millions. Coaching questions are kind of like iPhone Apps; a few years ago they didn’t exist. Now everybody’s creating them!

Here’s the real secret: it’s how you set up your coaching questions and then how you follow up that creates much of the magic in coaching. These questions in the hands of a novice may not have the same punch as they do when used by a master coach.

But you can get incredible mileage from these awesome coaching questions, right out of the box...

Print out this post and keep it with you when you coach. Notice what happens when you ask these powerful questions. If you don’t get fantastic results, work on your delivery. Here are the questions...

 

Thinking about becoming a coach? Get the FREE Become a Coach eBook here.

 

  1. I’m curious; may I ask you a few questions?
  2. What’s great about your life this week?
  3. How have you grown this week?
  4. What did you accomplish this week?
  5. Who did you serve?
  6. What did you learn?
  7. Who else will benefit?
  8. What are you grateful for?
  9. Who’s grateful for you?
  10. Is this what you want to be coached on or are you just sharing?
  11. What could you be happy about if you chose to be?
  12. Are you using this to grow or are you beating yourself up?
  13. Does this story empower you or disempower you?
  14. How can you turn this around and have better results next time?
  15. On a scale of 1 – 10 how honest have you been about this, with others?
  16. Do you mind if I offer an observation?
  17. Is this the problem or the solution?
  18. How would you like it to be?
  19. What’s in the way?
  20. What’s stopping you?
  21. What does this mean to you?
  22. Are you focused on what’s wrong or what’s right?
  23. Is that a story or the truth?
  24. How can you find out?
  25. Do you want this for its own sake or are you trying to avoid something else?
  26. Is this giving you energy or draining your energy?
  27. What will really make the biggest difference here?
  28. Is this a limitation or is it a strength?
  29. What’s the benefit of this problem?
  30. Who else is this hurting?
  31. What does your intuition tell you about this?
  32. Do you have a gut feeling about this?
  33. Have you solved problems like this before?
  34. What rules do you have that are getting in the way?
  35. How long have you been thinking about this?
  36. Have you ever experienced something like this before?
  37. If you changed your belief about this, what would be possible?
  38. Is this a decision or a pipe dream?
  39. Which of your core values does this goal express?
  40. Is this goal pulling you forward or are you struggling to reach it?
  41. Will this choice move you forward or keep you stuck?
  42. What’s the first step you need to take to reach your goal?
  43. What’s the worst that can happen, and can you handle that?
  44. What’s the downside of your dream?
  45. What’s stopping you from taking action?
  46. Who wouldn’t like it if you succeeded?
  47. What will you have to give up in order to make room for your goals?
  48. How would your life be transformed if you changed this right now?
  49. If you don’t change this, what will it cost you in the long run?
  50. What’s the most resourceful choice here?
  51. How can you improve this, so it adds value forever?
  52. How can you solve this problem so it never comes back?
  53. Are you acting on faith or fear?
  54. If you weren’t scared, what would you do?
  55. Are you standing in your power or pleasing someone else?
  56. What are you pretending not to know?
  57. How could you have this conversation so it empowers everyone concerned?
  58. What might make the difference that could change everything?
  59. If you approached this with courage, how could your life change?
  60. Are you procrastinating or is there a reason to delay?
  61. What’s the emotional cost vs. the financial cost?
  62. Which step could you take that would make the biggest difference, right now?
  63. How can you get your needs fully met?
  64. If your life were exclusively oriented around your values, what would that be like?
  65. How would you describe the difference between a need and a value?
  66. If you achieve this goal, will it bring lasting fulfillment or temporary pleasure?
  67. Have you thought about the impact you’ll have by creating this?
  68. How can you learn from this problem so it never happens again?
  69. How can you create more value with less effort?
  70. What are you willing to do to improve this situation?
  71. What are you willing to stop doing to improve this situation?
  72. How can you enjoy the process of solving this problem?
  73. Do you mind if I ask a very personal question?
  74. What are you willing to commit to here?
  75. Do you need to work harder or delegate this?
  76. If this weakness were also a strength, what would that be?
  77. How can you use this so it becomes a benefit?
  78. Have you decided to take action or are you just hoping you will?
  79. Are you angry or are you hurt?
  80. Who can help you with this?
  81. Does your current habitat fully support who you’re becoming?
  82. What do you need in order to succeed here?
  83. What plan do you need in order to achieve your new goals?
  84. Are your personal standards high enough to reach your goals?
  85. What will your impact be 100 years from now?
  86. Who do you need to become in order to succeed here?
  87. What are you responsible for here?
  88. Instead of either/or, how could you use both?
  89. Are you approaching this from your head or from your heart?
  90. Is this an assumption or have you checked to be sure?
  91. How can you learn what you need to know about this?
  92. Is this the best outcome you can imagine or is there something greater?
  93. Do you have a detailed strategy to get there?
  94. How will you transform your life with this new knowledge?
  95. What does this accomplishment mean to you?
  96. Why does it matter?
  97. Who did you have to become to achieve it?
  98. What did you learn in the process?
  99. Who else will benefit?
  100. What’s next for you?
  101. How have you changed the world for generations to come?

 

Love positive psychology? Get the FREE Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook.

 

Print out this list of questions and post them next to your coaching desk. With practice, incredible coaching questions will occur to you spontaneously, your clients will have amazing insights, and you will easily earn the big bucks that life, business, and executive coaches charge.

Got some great coaching questions of your own? Please share them below in the comments section.

Want to know how to ask incredible coaching questions? Check out this free infographic.

 

Want to be a certified coach in just 8 weeks? Join the Certified Competent Coach course.

 

 

Topics: business coach, life coach, Coaching, coaching school, Business Coaches, coaching questions, master coach, goals, Life Coaching, life coach training

Should Business and Life Coaches Ask "Why" Questions?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Questions The_Forgotten_Jetty_by_Daniel_Sallal_CC.jpg

Coaching questions are the stock and trade of professional life, business, and executive coaches. Knowing what to ask, when to ask, and how to ask coaching questions is a major part of becoming an effective coach. But there are certain types of questions that tend to be frowned upon, because they often yield poor results.

Those include "leading questions" that back clients into corners, as well as "closed-ended questions" that reduce curiosity, and then there are "Why questions" that slow down the process.

The ICF Core Coaching Competencies encourage a different type of question, what coaches sometimes call "powerful questions", or "awareness-building questions". These can often be spotted by the words they start with: What, When, How, Who, If.

Some powerful awareness-building questions:

  • If you had everything you need, what would you do?
  • Who would you have to become to succeed?
  • How could you do it?
  • When have you been in a situation like this, before?
  • What does this mean to you?

Questions like these help to open up a client's awareness of who s/he is and what's really possible. They take coaching to a higher level and help clients expand their impact in more ways than just goal completion. They also make coaching more fun.

So why shouldn't coaches ask, Why?

Sorry, I couldn't resist that one. Here are some reasons:

  • Why questions encourage analysis of the situation and you'd be surprised at how little analysis helps in coaching.
  • Why questions often lead to interpretations that may or may not be true, but more importantly, usually aren't helpful.
  • Why questions can turn the client's focus on the past, rather then the present and future, where the action really is.

I used to discourage Why questions until I listened to an advanced coaching session in which the student-coach asked her client several carefully-worded questions that focused on analyzing and interpreting the past, but avoided the word, Why.

Example: What do you think the reason is that you have this problem? Which is gobbledygook for: Why do you have this problem? Not surprisingly, the session wasn't successful.

That said, I've heard dramatic turning points in coaching sessions when coaches asked Why questions. As I tell my coaching students, if it works for the client, it works for me, because ICF coaching may be powerful, but it's not the only way to coach. So if you feel compelled to ask Why, just ask Why.

What makes some Why question work in coaching, instead of just slowing things down?

Ah, I thought you'd never ask! Here's why: 

WHY matters more than anything else in coaching!

You read that right. That poor little much-maligned word, WHY, matters more than all the Who, What, When, Where, and Hows. Those still matter, but not as much.

“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor was an incredibly wise man. As much as I love How questions (and I truly love How questions) they are pointless until you get the Why. In fact, What, When, If, and even Who don't make total sense without the Why.

Here are some Why questions you MUST ask:

  • Why does this matter to you?
  • Why is this important, right now?
  • Why does this mean so much?

Powerful Why questions uncover what the client most values.

Values are the Why.

Our most important personal values are the driving force behind everything we do. As sociologist, Paul Ray says, values determine our behavior more than anything else. More than demographics, education, strengths, needs, you name it.

Values are what matter most. 

Asking about values in a coaching session is like asking Google an important search term. Within a few moments, you get a useful answer. But invite Google to analyze and interpret the past, and it might reply, "Well I was going to answer, but I wasn't feeling well, plus my boss is mad at me and I had an argument with my wife, plus, plus, plus... Not useful.

So should coaches ask Why questions? YES. 

Focus Why questions on values, not analysis, interpretation, or the past. My 2 cents.

Positive psychology coaching tends to focus on strengths, which are the HOW of coaching. At School of Coaching Mastery, we focus on strengths and also emphasize values, because we are all about making coaching as powerful as possible. Two modules that will help you master values are the Psychology of Values and Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths. Both are included in the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program.

Curious about positive psychology coaching? Get the free eBook:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Coaching, executive coach, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, coaching questions, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Values

Positive Psychology Coaching: How Flow Appears In Coaching Sessions

Posted by Julia Stewart

Flow by VANCUSO

Have you ever participated, as a coach or client, in a coaching session when both the coach and client got on a wave length together that resulted in incredible insights and progress? After which, the client probably felt the coach did something amazing, while the coach may have felt s/he barely did anything, at all. If so, you may have experienced a "group flow" state.

Individuals go into flow states when they use their strengths in challenging situations, but groups of two or more people can also create group flow under specific circumstances. During flow, people are unusually creative, often feel that guidance is coming from without, and they may lose track of time. To learn more about flow, watch this TED video of positive psychology pioneer, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (rhymes with 'chick sent me high'), who coined the term, Flow.

Creativity researcher, R. Keith Sawyer, wrote a fascinating article on group flow for the Greater Good Science Center, based on his study of jazz ensembles and comedians. I've adapted his ideas here to describe the conditions that can foster group flow during a coaching session.

Conditions that promote flow during coaching:

1. A shared goal. In great coaching, both client and coach have a shared intention of moving the client towards achieving an important goal. To do this, the coach needs to let go of any personal goals s/he has to provide value, look smart, or get the client to do what s/he thinks is best. The coach also needs to create a safe, trusted environment for the client.

2. Engaged listening. Both coach and client need to listen deeply to themselves and to each other, putting aside preconceived notions about how the goal should be reached and checking in with each other frequently to make sure they are still on the same page. The coach takes the initiative here, modeling listening with intent, which can trigger the client to do the same. The coach also triggers deep engagement by asking awareness-building questions.

3. Forward motion. Acknowledgment, curiosity, and positivity all keep the session moving forward even when neither the coach nor the client knows exactly where they're headed. This means moving from "Yeah, but" thinking to "Yes, and" thinking, while remaining genuinely curious and avoiding judgments and closed-ended questions that can stop forward movement.

4. Undivided attention. Both coach and client need to be in private, non-distracting environments so they can attend fully to the shared present-moment conversation. Email, smart phones, other people and more can all derail a great coaching session.

5. Freedom and autonomy. Coach and client are equal partners who believe in each other, because the client needs the freedom to be exactly who he is while coaching. Flow emerges when they trust and respect one another enough for the client to find the answers that truly work best for him. 

6. Supportive egos. Sometimes it seems as though the coach and client think together with one mind for a few minutes. To do so, they both need their egos present, but not running the show. Trying to get rid of the ego leads to dysfunction, but too much ego just gets in the way. To move egos aside, trust must be strong enough for coach and client to experience moments of intimacy.

7. Equal partnership. Coaching is different from most professions in that it is an equal partnership between the professional and client. The coach doesn't fix or advise and the client doesn't need to be healed by the coach. This equality fosters full participation by the client, which leads to resourcefulness, resilience and greatness.

8. Unspoken understandings. Coach and client need to reveal just enough information about themselves that they feel sufficiently known by one another. This implicit knowing allows communication to jump ahead quickly, rather than consume time with polite posturings. Hours, weeks, or even months of processing can take place within minutes.

9. Spontaneous conversation. The coach needs to let go of the coaching models and structures s/he learned in coaching school and just coach from the hip, so to speak. While the client needs also to let go and allow flow to occur. That's one of the many reasons why practice and mastery are essential for the coach and why an excellent fit between coach and client makes such a big difference.

10. Risk. Both coach and client need to be willing to fail in order for flow to show up. If they play it safe, many of the above conditions will evaporate. The coach must be willing to explore the unknown even if it means asking cringe-worthy questions, while the client needs to be courageous enough to answer honestly. There is no other way to find the best outcomes. 

The above conditions don't happen automatically. The coach needs to know how to create trust and safety, while navigating the energy of the coaching conversation, in order to create this transpersonal experience. But when done well, coaching is often awe-inspiring.

Want to learn more about coaching and flow? Join the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program or download the CPPC Fact Sheet below.

 

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Photo by VANKUSO

Topics: coaching clients, coaching questions, greatness, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow

Great Coaching Questions: What Are They and When Do You Use Them?

Posted by Julia Stewart

The important this is to not stop questioning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What scientists and coaches have in common is curiosity and a need to ask the right questions. Wrong questions elicit the wrong data, or insights, goals, actions, results. 

The right questions literally create new realities, when asked at the right times.

View a list of 101 Incredible Coaching Questions here.

View an infographic on how and when to ask coaching questions here.

Ask your own questions. Join the next live Q&A class:

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Topics: coaching questions, curiosity

How to Ask Great Coaching Questions Infographic

Posted by Julia Stewart

One of our most popular blog posts is 101 Incredible Coaching Questions. The thing is, the best coaching questions won't do much unless you know when and how to ask them. Of course, we teach all the fine points of that at School of Coaching Mastery. And although a few tips won't make you a good coach, this infographic (my 1st-ever original infographic) will help you take that list of 101 coaching questions and start to turn them into some actual coaching. Be sure to check out the options below for next steps toward becoming a professional coach. Some of them are free.

How to ask great coaching questions 

Want to practice coaching? Join our Facebook Page to find coaching buddies. Or join our IAC Virtual Coaching Chapter to learn about coaching triads. Or join a free study group.

Want to become a professional coach?

Join Coaching Groundwork Advanced and Save

Topics: coaching questions, Triad Mentor Coaching, How to, IAC, School of Coaching

Coaching Tip: Is the Truth Really a Question?

Posted by Julia Stewart

As a coach, you probably believe in powerful questions. And as TEDEd speaker, Michael Stevens, demonstrates, powerful questions make all the difference in teaching, too. In fact, questions such as, "How much does a video weigh?" and "What color is a mirror?" have made his Vsauce channel popular with millions. They foster curiosity, because most folks have never considered these quirky questions before.

Is there such a thing as unanswerable questions? Stevens can answer the above questions with science. But coaches are simply looking for clarity, inspiration and action, rather than actual answers. Or are we? 

Sometimes an unanswerable question expands awareness. When tapping into a client's Higher Self, for instance, I'll ask, "What color is it?" and "Where is it located?", questions that don't make logical sense, because the Higher Self isn't a physcial thing. But my clients step into the present moment, along with their intuition, as they attempt to answer my questions and that's the whole point.

My favorite quirky question is "Is the truth really a question?" Coaches intuitively feel the answer is, "Yes." But it can't be, because "Yes." isn't a question. So the logical answer is, "No." But this question invites us to step out of linear logic into a broader, deeper way of thinking.

So then what's the answer? My favorite answer is the coach-y, "What do you think?" Which is all I care about. But the most concise answer is, "Yes?" Which embodies the perfect attitude to bring to a coaching session: open, positive, curious and affirmative.

Watch Michael Stevens for more on quirky questions:


 

Topics: Coaching, coach, coaching questions, curiosity, TED, Coaching Tip

Coaching Questions Don't Always End With Question Marks

Posted by Julia Stewart

Business Coach, Mattison Grey, MCCToday, in the International Association of Coaching's (IAC) Voice newletter/blog, an article by Business Coach, Mattison Grey, MCC, appeared with the title, When the Best Coaching Tool Isn't a Question.

In her article, Mattison makes a powerful case for acknowledgment as a masterful coaching tool. She should know. Mattison wrote the book on acknowledgment called, The Motivation Myth. And she points out that most coaches don't know what it is or confuse it with something else.

Mattison has studied the art of acknowledgment more than anyone I know, probably more than any coach alive, so I always defer to her on this subject. She started educating me on acknowledgment six or seven years ago and I've watched her use it in action many times. It truly is amazing.

Unfortunately, if you haven't watched a master acknowledger practice her art, or if you didn't know what you were witnessing, you probably missed the implications. So let me point out a few.

Here's Mattison's definition of acknowledgment:

Acknowledgment is saying what a person did, or results they achieved, delivered with a tone of appreciation, curiosity or surprise, and without judgment.

Easy, right? Try it. For most coaches, it's anything but easy. That's because we're still getting in the client's way (In other words, we're NOT making it all about them, so we're failing the first step in master coaching).

If you acknowledge well, here are some of the things that may happen:

  • Your client lights up
  • They feel seen/heard
  • They don't feel suspicious (as in, 'What's she buttering me up for?')
  • They acknowledge themselves ('I did!')
  • They open up to us
  • They see themselves in a new light
  • They tell us things we didn't even know to ask about
  • They think more resourcefully
  • They step into their Personal Greatness
  • They are willing to do far more
  • They love themselves (and us)

When I teach acknowledgment to Master Coach Training students, I offer a few pointers, such as, use second-person pronouns (you, your, yours) instead of first-person pronouns (I, me, mine); acknowledge what the client did, the results they got and who they are becoming.

When used well, acknowledgment can express or enhance virtually any other coaching skill, including all of the IAC Coaching Masteries(tm). The right acknowledgment, well-placed and followed by a bit of silence, can even be a powerful clarifier.

Which is one reason why master coaches don't always ask questions.

Motivation Myth

 

Get your copy of Mattison's book, The Motivation Myth (at left) and become a master of acknowledgment.*

 

*I'm an affiliate of Mattison's and I would recommend this book, anyway.

Topics: business coach, Coaching, blog, Become a Master Coach, coaching questions, IAC Coaching Masteries, Mattison Grey, Masterful Coaching, IAC Voice, acknowledgment, MCC, Master Coach Training, IAC, coaching tool

Your Coaching Questions Answered: Dreaded Coaching Conversations

Posted by Julia Stewart

Your Coaching Questions AnsweredA month ago, I posted to this blog with questions about conversations that coaches dread and I mentioned that best-selling author, Deborah Brown-Volkman, and I are working on a related project...

Well, I'm ready to tell you about the 1st step in the related project: It's a series of 4 interactive webinars, hosted by Deborah and me on 4 types of conversations that coaches tend to dread and how to handle them.

You see, Deborah and I are both constantly asked by stressed-out coaches who are unprepared for tricky communication issues that come up all the time and we knew somebody needed to address this stuff, like...


  • Clients who lie or don't follow through on fieldwork
  • Potential clients who say they 'can't afford' you
  • Clients who don't pay on time
  • How to fix it when you've said the wrong thing

These issues aren't just embarrassing and stressful; the fear and confusion that come from not knowing what to say or how to handle tough situations like these can bring your success to a screeching halt!

So here's what we're doing to help: In these 4 one-hour Q&A webinars, Deborah and I will offer advice on how to handle the most-oft asked questions, but we won't stop there: You can ask your biggest questions and we'll answer on the spot.

Think of it as an injection of clarity that brings you the ease and confidence you want for yourself and your business - and we're doing it at a price that any savvy coach can handle:

Take one class or all four and get the answers you need on 4 Mondays, January 23rd to February 13th, 2-3 PM EST (GMT-5). They're just $30 per class...but if you act quickly you can save up to $40!

  • How to Have Have Tough Conversations With Potential Coaching Clients

  • How to Deal With Renegade Coaching Clients

  • How to Create Ideal Coaching Clients With Advanced Communication Skills

  • How to Have Conversations That Create Your Ideal Coaching Business

Here's a secret to all of these questions: The are all best handled proactively. But how can you set up yourself for success if you don't know what to expect? Easy. Ask your questions and listen to the questions and answers that other coaches share on these value-packed calls. Deborah and I know a lot and we're ready to share!

Seating is limited and classes are filling up. But if you act fast (a.k.a. proactively), you can save $10 on each class that you sign up for. How?

Register by January 20th and get each class for $20: Add the discount code below when you register online. Click 'Apply' and the cost of each class will be lowered to just $20. But you must use the discount code no later than 5 PM EST this Friday, January 20th.

Discount Code: Early20

Click below to register now:

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Topics: coaching business, Coaching, webinar, Deborah Brown-Volkman, coaching questions

Beyond Coaching Questions: The Conversations That Coaches Dread

Posted by Julia Stewart

Dreaded coaching conversationsMy colleague and friend, Deborah Brown-Volkman, and I are planning a coaching communications project that moves beyond, ‘Which coaching questions should I ask?’ and covers the trickiest and stickiest conversations that professional coaches must have, but often dread.

 

 

You know the coaching conversations that give you sweaty palms:
  • How do you handle the client who doesn’t pay you on time?
  • How do you tell your client that you really can’t give them an extra 20-30 minutes every week?
  • How do you tell your client that s/he needs therapy instead of coaching?
  • What do you say to the client who ‘can’t afford’ you?
  • How do you raise your fees without losing your clients?
  • [insert your dreaded client conversation question here]

My students and mentees ask me these questions everyday, but Deborah and I are creating a new resource to give you answers and ideas that are right at your fingertips.


The truth is, as a coach, you need advanced communication skills. And if you don’t have them, your peace of mind will suffer and so will your coaching.

“Success in life is directly proportional to the number of awkward conversations you’re willing to have.” - Anonymous

Do you worry about how to handle touchy conversations with your coaching clients? Then please share which conversations keep you up at night in our comments section, below.

Tell us some of the hardest or most difficult conversations you've had or don't want to have. Your questions about communication best practices for coaches will help shape this project greatly - and will help us to better help you.

Please share your questions below. We’ll be happy to offer answers or methods for finding your own best answers, so you never have to dread having another uncomfortable conversation again. And if you have a great story about how you handled a tough conversation, we’d love to hear it - and you might just help a fellow coach get a good night’s sleep tonight!

[UPDATE: Deborah and I are hosting 4 low-cost live, interactive tele-webinars on how to have the toughest coaching conversations of your career. Click below for more info...]

Click me

Ask your questions about dreaded coaching conversations, below...

Topics: Career, Coaches, coaching clients, Deborah Brown-Volkman, coaching questions, communication

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