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4 Questions for Diving Deeper into a Topic | Performance Coach University

As a coach, you may realize at a certain point in a coaching relationship that a client isn’t going as deep into an issue that they need help with in the way that you expect. This is especially likely if emotions are connected to the root of the problem, so you may wish to gently nudge the coaching client towards facing those usually uncomfortable emotions in order for a solution to emerge.

This direction can initially be hard to take, especially if you strongly believe that the coaching process needs to proceed at a pace that the client is comfortable with. However, you need to remember that the client has sought your help because they have some blind spots that they need help with. Leaving the sessions to become opportunities to “simply chat” at the superficial level while skirting around or avoiding the real issues will not help the client or do your coaching career any good.

It is therefore vital that you have a set of questions that you can pose to the client so that they can delve deeper into the topic, and by so doing address the underlying problems that have kept them stuck for so long.

Discussed below are some of those coaching questions which will nudge your client to go deeper into the topic over which they need help.

1. How Would You Do It Differently If You Could Do It All Over Again?

It is important for you to phrase your questions in an open-ended way that encourages introspection or reflection as well as being solution-oriented.

This approach will serve two key purposes. First, it will prevent the client from sucking you into their “pity party” in which they dwell on what went wrong, who could be responsible for things going south, and so on. Being solution-focused avoids giving the client a chance to wallow in the problem.

Secondly, some situations or experiences may be traumatic and asking clients to recount them makes those clients to relive that trauma over and over. You don’t want to do that. Instead, let them focus their attention on how they could handle the situation differently if they had a hypothetical chance to do it all over again.

In this way, the client will be elevated from the situation and look at it from the point of view of an objective observer (remember, the best “players” in any game are always the spectators since they don’t have to make decisions in the heat of the moment in the same way as the players on the pitch have to).

Related: 5 Questions For Assessing A Sitution

As the client shares how they could have approached the situation differently, you will have the opportunity to assess their thought processes and identify any gaps which subsequent questions can direct the client to consider.

Be sure to grab your resource guide to these questions below!

2. How Could Someone You Know Handle This?

This is another variant of the question discussed earlier. The only difference is that for this particular one, the client may identify a specific person that they believe has what it takes to handle the current situation in a different and better way.

As you listen to the client’s responses, you may have a rare chance to know who they look up to, or who they feel has the requisite skills necessary to deal with the situation in which the client feels stuck.

As they explain how another person would have handled the problem, the client will (at a deeper level) start looking at the situation differently, and ultimately select what they think is the best course of action to take in the given circumstances.

3. What Would You Do If You Could Do Anything?

This is a very good question as you nudge your coaching client to delve deeper into the topic you are dealing with during a coaching session.

This question invites the client to express their deepest desires, needs and wants without being hampered by their current perceived or real limitations.

In so doing, the client will shed light on what matters most to them, and that will clarify to you where attention has to go in order to produce meaningful results.

Don’t be surprised if some of your coaching clients are unable to answer this question clearly and with confidence. Some people come from a place in which they were not given an opportunity to develop a high degree of self-awareness, so it is your duty as a coach to help them bridge that gap once you become aware of its existence.

4. If You Could Change Something About This Situation, What Would It Be?

This question is aimed at getting the coaching client to take a close look at the topic and identify the specific components or aspects which didn’t go well and they wish that they could change.

You can get to the heart of the matter by using this question since it can be hard to find a solution to a problem that hasn’t been defined clearly.

Additionally, the answers to this question can help you to assess whether the client can point out all the flaws in the way they handled the situation. If they can, that is good! If they cannot, then look into your coaching toolbox and find something that will help them to view the problem from different perspectives before a viable solution can be found.

Summing It Up…

It can be difficult to come up with all the right questions on the spur of the moment if you weren’t adequately prepared to think in that direction. Seasoned coaches prepare their best questions in time and then listen actively to the client in order to pose each of those questions at the exact moment in the coaching conversation when the question will seem natural and non-judgmental.

As you practice more, you will get to a point at which every question that you ask passes the test of being kind, necessary and neutral. If any of the questions that you put to the client fails any aspect of this test, the trust the client has in you may be threatened and the coaching session can take on undertones of an inquisition or interrogation instead of being a professional, yet friendly, interaction between two parties who are united by the same goal. 

With that said, have fun using the questions above to go deeper into the topic with the client and share in the comments any thoughts or experiences you have about the issues addressed in this blog post! Be sure to grab your resource guide to these questions below!

To Your Success,

Jairek Robbins

Ready to level up your coaching and leadership game? Want to make a big impact in the lives of others? Add more power to your purpose with our 12-week online Performance Coach certification course. Apply here: Course overview & Application!