How to ask great questions

24 Sep 2015

“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.” Leo Babauta

The main tools of a coach’s trade are great questions. On Barefoot Coaching’s Postgraduate Certificate in Coaching, we encourage coaches to experiment with a wide range of coaching questions. We also encourage the use of questions which are obvious, simple, direct and uncomplicated. These questions have far more effect than overly complicated, "clever" questions, which coaches sometimes feel they should be using.

Coaches ask questions to raise awareness within their clients, questions to elicit emotion, questions to check out decisions or goals and questions to challenge perceptions.

How Barefoot Coaches ask good questions:

  • The starting point of good questioning is dynamic listening and wholehearted attention.
    The quality of your attention will determine the quality of your questions.
  • Questions should ALWAYS be for your client's self - discovery and not for your curiosity.
    Questions to fact find should be very rare in a good coaching conversation.
  • Realise that there is no one 'right' question.
    Spend time in supervision with other coaches reflecting on the questions you ask and what leads you to ask them.
  • It is ok to ask questions which create a state of puzzlement in your client - this is a pre-requisite of change.
    Think of yourself as an empathetic provocateur.
  • Avoid using stock questions, or questions which play to your own preferences.
    What is a great question for you is not necessarily a question which will ignite your client's thinking.