One of the vital competencies that separate the great coaches from the rest is the mastery of powerful questioning. What is a powerful question in coaching? First of all, it must be highlighted that a difficult question doesn’t make it powerful. It may be difficult because it requires the coachee to work hard to come up with an answer. But that may not accomplish anything powerful. In essence, a powerful question is insightful to probe the coachee’s inner thoughts and evoke him to make self-discovery of his core issues and underlying beliefs. Here, the coach combines his skill of deep listening and intense curiosity to form powerful questions that can accomplish the outcome mentioned.
So, what are the elements that form powerful questions? What makes your coaching questions powerful? I’ve learnt that there are at least 3 criteria.
3 Criteria of a Powerful Coaching Question
1. The coachee doesn’t know the answer to the question before the coach asks. Instead of becoming a problem-solving expert of consultant, the coach plays the role of the reflector. Without providing solutions, his question causes the coachee to see a blindspot that he hasn’t seen before and learn something new about himself. This type of question goes beyond the search for information, facts or descriptions. It causes the coachee to gain new awareness of himself and reality as the result of considering the coach’s powerful question. Using the right question at the right time by the coach will make the coachee to see new light and gain fresh insights into his issues.
2. The question raises deep curiosity in the coachee. This means the coach’s question engages the coachee in a discovery process and becomes a researcher and investigator of his own inner world. The question is asked in away that assumes there is something interesting to be learned there. The process stimulates the coachee to ‘catch’ the coach’s curiosity and becomes his own. This curiosity is fun and light, which invites the coachee into a neutral observer stance, one that is somewhat detached from the content of the words and able to capture the context better. Powerful reframing happens here, which leads to the third criteria.
3. The question invokes new paradigms and possibilities. The coach asks in such a way that finding an answer will require the coachee to shift his paradigm or perspectives and discover new possibilities as the result. This mean the coachee is elevated to a higher level and gain a more empowering way of viewing the whole situation. Suddenly, the coachee’s perspective has broaden and more options and possibilites that were previously unseen or inaccessible are now visible and can be considered as part of the coachee’s options. More options for the coachee means he can make better choices to move forward.
These are the 3 criteria that makes coaching questions powerful in my coaching journey. Hope that you’ve learnt something from this post today. Can you think of more criteria on top of that? I invite you to share by commenting on this post.