In coaching, less is often more, and this principle comes to the fore when coaches are formulating the questions that they put before clients in order to nudge them to reframe a problem before the best solution can be found.
As a coach, you need to keep this same principle in mind when you are formulating questions to help your clients to evaluate the risks and the opportunities inherent in the situation at hand.
Remember that while a comfort zone is a beautiful place where we all want to be, there is nothing that grows in that space. Growth happens outside your comfort zone, and this should inform the way in which risk vs. opportunity is viewed.
With that said, below are some powerful questions that you can ask your coaching clients in order to evaluate a situation in terms of its risks and opportunities.
1. What is the Challenge?
This question invites the coaching client to explain, in their own words, what the problem he or she is facing is.
The question is very important as it sets the agenda in terms of the specific issue which will be addressed during the coaching relationship or a specific coaching session.
As a coach, you have a chance to get a glimpse into the mind of the client from the way they state what their challenge is.
Avoid asking follow-up questions that prompt the client to go into a narration of all their problems regarding this same issue. Such a mistake may result in you being mired into the same frame of mind of the client and the problem may become unsolvable. Being detached professionally allows you to put forth questions that make the client see the challenge differently, and thereafter see a light pop in his or her head bringing a solution to the challenge.
2. What Opportunities Exist?
Having stated what the challenge is, the client can be asked to point out the opportunities that exist in the current situation.
For example, if the client is a business executive who has team members that are pulling in different directions, the opportunities inherent in that challenge may include the likelihood of a promotion if the team gets to work together and produces outstanding results for the company. Or maybe better teamwork can allow the client to leave earlier and spend more time with family.
As you can see, this question is geared at expanding the perspective of the coaching client so that from that enhanced view, they can think creatively about the way they have been framing the situation and its possible remedies.
3. How Does This Fit into Your Major Outcomes?
It is also prudent for you to ask your coaching client to share how the current situation fits into their major outcomes.
For instance, is the challenge making it nearly impossible for them to keep their career on track?
As the client answers this question, he or she may unconsciously realize how high the stakes are, and this will in turn fuel their motivation to work with you to the end. Seeing the challenge in terms of the bigger picture creates an urgency to resolve the problem.
4. How Does It Align With Your Goals?
Another question that you can ask centers on how the current challenge or situation aligns with the client’s specific goals.
The goals will often differ from the general outcomes referred to earlier. For example, a current outcome could be a desire for career stability and even growth while a goal may be to surpass last month’s sales.
If the situation doesn’t pose a significant risk to the client’s goals, then it may not be as important as they are initially making it out to be. In this case, you may need to dig a little more in order to establish why exactly the client is bothered by what is happening.
5. What is Your View of All This?
This particular question enlists the coaching client’s thoughts and feelings about the situation for which they have sought a coach’s help.
As the client answers this question, be careful and filter out all generalities while taking note of specific reactions/emotions associated with the challenge.
For example, a client who expresses anger about the challenge is in a different place from another who is frustrated because they are stuck.
From the client’s answers, you can formulate additional questions that help them to think outside the box in order to view the problem different and therefore come up with novel solutions.
6. What Do You Think This Means?
A question of this nature can be asked at any point during the coaching process in order to learn the thought process of the client during the different stages of the session.
An example of when you can pose the question is in the middle of the session when possible solutions are being considered. If a client expresses interest in a particular action step, you can ask them what that choice means in terms of how they will do their work differently, for example.
7. How Does It Align With Your Values?
As you may already know, people’s values are fairly stable, unlike goals which may shift from time to time. Values define the core of each person, and any goals set will, therefore, be most likely to be aligned to the core values of that person.
For a solution to be truly meaningful and lasting, it has to be aligned with the values of your coaching client.
This question is therefore very important because through it, your client will think about how the situation affects their values, and how any remedy picked will be viewed from the lens of the values that they hold dear.
It has always been said that life is the art of taking calculated risks in order to take advantage of the opportunities available around us. When one is too focused on the risks, they will miss the opportunities before them. Conversely, an obsession with seizing every opportunity may make one crash and burn due to the risks they hadn’t taken into account. As a coach, you have an important duty to help your clients to identify the existing risks in their situations while maintaining sight of the opportunities that lie on the fringes of the risks. The questions above will get you started on this important job, so start using them today!
To Your Success,
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