Get new stories daily
By submitting a form, I agree to the privacy policy

The role of questions in coaching


The coach’s main tool is the right questions that move the client’s thinking in the right direction. Being able to ask them is a critical skill for a coach. Therefore, it is important to consider the main mistakes of novice coaches and how to avoid them.

Closed questions

These are questions that can be answered in monosyllables — “yes”, “no”, “I don’t know”, “maybe”. Such questions not only do not give the necessary information to the coach and the person himself, but also do not allow the client to think, to look for possible solutions for a specific situation. They close all the paths with one word, which, in fact, does not change anything. Instead, the coach should ask open-ended questions that encourage the client to think, to consider various options. Such questions are clarifying. It is impossible to answer them with one word and close down. For example, instead of asking “Can you take it on yourself?” ask “How can you take it on yourself?”, or “in what way”, or “what do you need for this”. The difference is immediately felt. The brain started working, thoughts ran, a person generates a solution.

Leading questions

Leading questions are usually asked when they want to disguise the advice. And the coach’s task is not to give advice, but to help the client find it for himself. But how to do it without leading questions? To do this, you need to translate them into open ones. Even if you guess something, it is better not to bring it to this, but to ask the usual question, assuming different answers.

Finding the perfect question

Often, novice coaches in moments of dialogue with the client try to find “the very question” that will open up the whole picture for the client. At the same time, when the coach thinks about such a question, there are pauses in the conversation, slowing down the rhythm of the dialogue. The correct behavior in this situation is not to search for one correct question, but to rely on the usual sequence of questions. Ask the client to tell you more about what he is telling you, to add something else. Thus, firstly, you focus on the person, not on yourself and the search for the perfect question, and secondly, the flow of thoughts of the client is not interrupted, and thus the conversation turns out to be as productive as possible.

Unordered questions

It is not necessary to ask the same question in several variations and at random, so you can completely confuse the client. Instead, first think carefully about what you want to ask, and only then ask the question. And here we are not talking about asking the “perfect” question. And about what you need to think first, and then talk, and not generate a question on the go, because this way a novice coach risks getting confused. Don’t be afraid to take a break and formulate a question. It’s better than talking all the time for fear of awkward silence. In addition, often during a pause, the client himself will start talking even before you think about your next step.


Interpretations in coaching act on the client in the same way as conjectures in court act on the judge. Or worse. They not only reduce trust in you as a specialist, but also block the flow of the client’s dialogue — and this is the last thing a coach needs during a session. Instead, do not be wise. You need to use only the words of the customers themselves, without trying to guess anything. Make it a habit to use the client’s words in your questions. For example, if a person says that at work he is always looking at his watch and dreaming about how he will come home, do not ask: “Why do you hate your job?”. Ask better like this: “What motivates you to look at the clock and dream about home?”. The client’s response may not be as obvious as it seems at first glance.

Rhetorical questions

In fact, rhetorical questions are disguised statements expressing your own opinion, besides, they do not presuppose an answer by their very definition. Needless to say, it is not permissible for coaching — both to make judgments about a person and to communicate them to him, and to ask questions that do not require feedback. So that you do not have a desire to ask such questions, the first thing to do is to understand yourself, in your reaction to the client’s situation. Next, you need to think again about your vision of the possible potential of the client — maybe you are missing something very important about his problem.

Neglect of interruption

Excessive timidity in the coach’s work can harm him more than interrupting the client. The fact is that all people are different. One person will fall silent after one sentence, and the other can explain his situation for 10 minutes or even more. Also, people who like to talk often use a lot of details in their speech, necessary and not so much. And often the abundance of such moments can obscure the main essence of the conversation.
Therefore, it is really very important for a coach to be able to outbid a client. Of course, there is no need to be rude. It is enough to calmly and persistently insert your word into the client’s monologue, and then, when he stops, speak yourself. If you are still worried that a person may not understand you and for him your “stop” will sound too harsh, the ideal move in this case will be if you discuss it before the coaching session and warn about your rules.


The other side of interrupting is interrupting. There shouldn’t be a lot of it and it shouldn’t be thoughtless. This rule is especially relevant if you belong to people whose manner of communication includes the habit of interrupting the interlocutor, and you often do not catch yourself in this case, even when you have interrupted a person. If you cannot immediately determine whether you are such a person or you are in full control of the process, record your coaching sessions on a dictaphone. Then listen to the recordings and notice at what points and whether you were justifiably interrupting the client. If it turns out that you are still sinning by interrupting, here is the solution — agree with yourself that you will count two seconds after the client finishes talking and before you ask the next question. If the client does not continue at this moment, you say, if the client starts first, fine, you are silent. If the client starts talking, it’s even better, because your goal as a coach is to help a person find his own solution, not to advise yours.

“Why” questions

Every time you ask a person “why”, he has to re—evaluate and recheck his own motives, defend himself or justify his actions – and all this slows down communication and discourages the desire for him. There is a high probability that the client will take a defensive position after such questions. Therefore, it is better to use “what” instead of “why”. For example, instead of “Why did you quit your job?”, “What led to you quitting?”. Thus, paraphrasing the questions, you will get the answers you need, and the person, in turn, will not close from you, but will continue to analyze the situation and look for new solutions.
When it is possible to solve these problems with questions, working with the client will become closer to the accepted standards of coaching.

Your review has been sent.
Log in
Password Reset