We have a lot of information about why giving your advice, opinions and suggestions isn’t effective for helping your clients, so let’s address why asking questions is the most important coaching skill.
First, there are different types of coaching questions, such as questions for-
- Defining what you want (Vision, etc)
- Decision making
- Expanding awareness
- Goal setting
- Problem solving obstacles
- Action steps/planning
One of my favorite examples of the power of a coaching question is to counter “I can’t because…” by asking “How can I…?”
Advice and suggestions that make sense to the coach narrows options and what needs to happen is to expand our client’s options in ways that resonate for them, which is done by asking them questions, not by telling them what we think they should know or do.
Asking a good question can be motivating, transformative, and open up greatness and creativity.
For example, as a burned out therapist who was excited to discover the emerging profession of professional coaching, I had the epiphany that “singles become couples” and because I knew NOTHING about helping singles I asked myself“What do singles need to know and do to find and have a successful, fulfilling, lasting relationship?”
This question led me to develop my coaching program for singles that evolved into Conscious Dating® (that became a book) and led to a wildly successful coaching practice that led to getting demands to train my colleagues which led to Relationship Coaching Institute, which is probably my biggest, most lasting legacy.
As a therapist I was trained to focus on problems, diagnosis, treatment, etc. As a coach I learned how to ask questions, which changed my life and professional career.
So even if you don’t know the answer, crafting a good question can lead you to accomplish amazing things.
“If I were to write a book for therapists about coaching, what would that look like?” became From Therapist to Coach
“If I were to write a book to inspire helping professionals to play large and build a highly profitable business helping others, what would that look like?” became Building the Million Dollar Private Practice
“If I were to write a book about how couples can develop a truly Advanced Partnership and live beyond happily ever after, what would that look like?” became Radical Marriage
“What would I share with people who are experiencing the pain of a failed relationship and wondering if they should work on it or leave?” became Should I Stay or Should I Go?
“What would be an easy to learn, effective communication strategy for addressing conflict?” became The Communication Map
Get the idea? I had no “plan” or intention to create any of the above, but in the course of my work and in response to the needs of my clients, asking the above questions led me to places I didn’t know I could possibly go and accomplish things I didn’t know were possible for me.
This is why questions are at the heart of what makes coaching effective.