Questions are a very important part of a dialogue with clients. Asking the right questions can not only help a coach gain insight into their client's needs, but also into their values and beliefs, which feeds their responses and attitudes. In addition, the right questions can trigger a response within the client to their own issue that they may not have been able to come up with previously. It may not even be that the coach has a solution to the problem, but that they have asked a question that opens up a new line of thought for the client and there is a realization about a solution they came to on their own. Ultimately, these are the questions that can bring about change. Coaches believe that their clients are intelligent and already possess the understanding to achieve the results they are anticipating.
Tough questions can help the client step out of their normal way of approaching a situation and see it in a new light. These questions aren’t necessarily aimed at gathering more information from the client, but rather to entice the client to consider different reactions or thoughts than they already have. Questions should be timed appropriately, well articulated and well chosen. Fewer and less complicated questions are generally considered the most effective in coaching conversations as they leave more of an opening to the client.
Coaching questions can be a fantastic tool, one that is used to cut away the typical and mundane responses, to reveal the unexpected. It may take creativity and practice to narrow down the appropriate questions for each client and their unique situation, but a practiced coach will learn how to formulate their questions effectively. Learning to ask the tough questions begins with practice and an understanding of what outcome is expected. If a coach expects a client to be an expert in their situation, they simply need to guide the client to the answer with the right questions.
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