As a professional coach, you know that you have a duty to accompany your client on a journey that will result in that client finding for himself or herself the solutions to the issues they face. Now comes the tricky part about your role as a coach; as you accompany your client, you need to do everything in your power to avoid giving solutions or options, or even getting emotionally (or otherwise) involved in the client’s problem.
The trick that allows you to travel on that journey with your client without being involved in their problems is by asking the right questions so that through a process of introspection and reflection, the client arrives at a point where the situation becomes so clear that they can grasp what they need to do (or how to overcome the obstacles) to reach their goals.
In this discussion, we cover some questions that you can put before the client in order to make them to assess the situation correctly.
These questions need to be customized for the client and they need to be timed correctly so that the client doesn’t feel like he or she is before Nazi Gestapo or Spanish Inquisition interrogators. Yours is an art, not a crude intrusion into the mind of your clients!
One way to customize the following questions is by including some of the exact words used by the client when answering an earlier question. By using those exact words, you bring context to your question and you show the client that you have been listening attentively to everything they said.
Let us now look at some of the helpful questions that you ask so that the client can correctly assess their situation.
1. What Do You Think of It?
Here, you are asking the coaching client to apply their logical mind to the situation. For example, the client may tell you that they think it is wrong for them to spend so much time working that they miss the major milestones of their young child’s life.
When the client opens up in this way, you can ask follow-up questions aimed at teasing out the reasons why they are spending so much time at work, why they think it is important to be part of the family at the time key milestones are attained by kids, and so on.
This question also gives the client permission to talk freely about their situation without any fear that you will judge or blame them for what is happening.
2. How Are You Feeling About It?
It is one thing to express what you think about something and it is another thing to say what your feelings are about that situation.
Feelings are powerful drivers of behavior, so this question can bring out what emotions the client links to the situation that they are going through.
For example, your client may tell you that he or she hates his or her job because it keeps them away from family. Or, the client may say that they feel frustrated by their inability to say no to extra assignments that make them work late.
Putting a label on their emotions helps you as a coach to figure out techniques of channeling those emotions into motivators for the client as they look for a way out of the situation in which they are stuck.
3. What Do You Think is Best?
Once your client has shared what they think and how they feel about the situation, it is now time to pivot towards exploring potential solutions or options.
This particular question steers the conversation in that direction, and depending on how you have read your client’s disposition, you can tweak it to make them feel freer to share any thoughts or options that immediately come to mind.
For example, you can ask, “if you could possibly suggest three remedies that immediately come to mind, what do you think these would be?
Such a question frees the client to get creative and suggest anything that comes to mind without first running them through a sieve to determine their chance of delivering the needed results.
Your objective in getting them to talk about possible solutions is to shift their minds towards being solution-oriented rather than being problem-focused.
4. What Resonates Most With You?
Here, you are inviting the client to identify which of suggested options strikes a chord in them as the remedy that is most likely to work.
For any solution to work, client buy-in is a must. Remember, you are just a facilitator helping the client to gain clarity and overcome the obstacles that are holding them back, so a solution that resonates with the client is more likely to be implemented than another solution that the client doesn’t resonate with.
This question is best asked in the middle or towards the end of the coaching session as you are agreeing upon a plan of action to resolve the situation that the client is in.
5. How Does It Look to You?
This particular question is best asked during the earlier segments of the coaching session during the time when you are getting the client to clearly define what the situation in which they are stuck is.
This question is important because it elicits the personal thoughts of the client about the topic. Not the thoughts of colleagues, family or any other third-party.
It also helps you to understand the client’s frame of reference so that you can help that client to arrive at the right solution for them. This isn’t the time to impose your own thoughts or biases about the topic.
If you handle this phase of the session properly, you will be well on your way to helping the client to become unstuck and move towards their goals. As George Bernard Shaw put it, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Rather, it is about creating yourself!” When you see your client soaring towards the realization of their full potential, you will have the rewarding feeling of knowing that you were available to help the client to spread their wings and fly. Nothing can be more rewarding, especially when you were paid to witness that moment!
It is now your turn. Share in the comments what questions have helped you to make a client assess their situation accurately. Did you formulate that question in the heat of the moment or was it part of a list of questions you prepared before the coaching session?
To Your Success,
Jairek Robbins & Team PCU
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