I do love the coaching profession, especially because it is based on the mastery of asking questions, questions that evoke awareness, that allow new perspectives to arise. This is all about empowering the client!
There are practical reasons to adopt the asking approach, which is so distant from the consultant or therapist approach.
One of the reasons lies purely in the fact that all the information is with the client.
Nobody knows more about us than us! That is the reason why the clients are the experts of their life and as coaches we can only ask.
It is clear that asking is empowering. People often search for coaching with the purpose to find help in making decisions. And you know what? Clients already have their answers, they already know what to do and they already own the right decision, which is hidden somewhere, sometimes not even so hidden and already accessible to their own awareness.
We all have our own inner wisdom, we just need to let it guide us.
Moreover, self-confidence is a huge factor in change.
By asking clients’ opinion, by asking them open evocative questions, you take them seriously. This is all we need sometimes, to find a space where our opinion counts, to be listened to. The coach is like a mirror for the clients, so that the clients access their faith in what they want to manifest.
Why asking? Because asking develops leadership skills.
In order to lead our life we need to take the responsibility of it. Asking builds the responsibility muscles, it is a good training for clients, so that they can develop and reinforce leadership skills.
Asking questions is an art and it can be a precious gift.
When someone sees who we really are, this can be such a great gift! Through the art of powerful questioning, the coach creates a rapport with the clients, because by asking questions we honor and we value who they are. We value their thoughts, their opinion, their knowledge, their experience. This is an essential aspect in a coaching relationship, we promote trust and a safe and comfortable space where the clients can be who they really are.
What kind of mistakes coaches can make in asking questions?
Go for open questions, avoid closed questions. We need to let our clients lead the conversation, as coaches we need to be present and to be aware of the fact that it is all about the client, not about the coach.
The good news is that we can convert closed questions to open questions. You can immediately recognize a closed question because it can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. And by doing that the clients are trapped into a polarity mode that limits their perspective.
So the trick is to think before asking and to begin our questions with words like ‘what’ or ‘how’.
When coaches begin their training journey they are often caught up in the trap of ‘how can I create great questions?’. Remember, it is not the ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ question that makes the difference in a coaching session. Be true to who you are in the moment, trust the process and most of all trust your clients! They know the answers, they know what is best for them and it does not have to be what we – as coaches – have in mind.
Keep your focus on your clients and not on your skills and your greatness as a coach.
Even when we use open questions, it is so easy to follow our own agenda, to lead the clients down a path that we have in mind. Our intentions can be good, but this is not what coaching is about.
We often need to stop, take our time and see where the clients choose to go. We can only follow them, and we need to trust that this is the best path.
Something else to be aware of is about asking rhetorical questions: they are generally a sign that you are judging the situation or the client. Reset your attitude, be alert to what is going on inside you and be aware if the situation is triggering you emotionally.
What about ‘why’ questions?
They bring clients to find justifications. They usually bring clients to the past and not to the future. Coaching is about partnering with the clients in the present moment and offering them the tools to go to the results they desire in life, by moving towards the future.
The best you can do is rephrase a ‘why’ question with a ‘what’ question.
You know, asking questions with a coaching approach can be a great way to give value and meaning to everyday conversations. It can also be a good way to begin a conversation with someone you just met and with open questions you can connect with people at a higher level.
For those who want to become professional coaches, and also for those who want to bring more meaning in their life, it is worth committing to get better in asking questions!