My Best Coaching Questions

Question markIn coaching and in life, he who asks the best questions wins.

Actually, everybody wins when we ask good questions, not just the asker. Here’s why I think that’s such an important precept. Asking questions is a quick way to defuse a tense situation. It helps us remember to understand first, and speak second. And just in case we’re feeling less than curious when someone wants to talk to us, good questions can help reveal the bigger picture and (hopefully) ignite our interest.

Before we begin, some tips:

  • Always ask permission to ask questions or to check impressions before beginning.
  • Asking questions should be viewed as thinking together. In most cases, the coachee has the answer but hasn’t yet intellectualized the question sufficiently to realize this. The coach’s job is to help the coachee pull that answer out of their head so they can craft a progressive plan that belongs to them. The coachee is the author; the coach is the thinking partner. Stay curious.
  • The best coaching questions avoid the word “why”. Why questions raise defenses. (Of course, “Why 5” exercises are the exception to this rule.)

My Best Coaching Questions

  • What needs to happen for you to [insert goal or wish]?
  • What’s missing?
  • What’s the best outcome we can create?
  • If you knew you could not fail, how would you approach the situation?
  • What got in the way of [insert the missed goal]?
  • What might you do to sabotage this goal?
  • May I check my current perception with you?
  • How is that working for you?
  • If you take this step, what would be your next step?
  • What is the gift in this challenge?
  • What can you control in the situation?
  • What can’t you control in the situation?
  • What might you control that you haven’t been?
  • Who will you have to become to achieve what you want?
  • What’s stopping you from having this right now?
  • If you knew people would follow you, where would you lead them?
  • What are you willing to do to contribute to the solution?
  • What role have you played in creating this problem?
  • What tools do you know about that you haven’t used yet?
  • What could you change to make the situation more positive?
  • What are you holding as true that may not be?
  • What is currently preventing you from reaching this goal?
  • What are you tolerating right now that is holding you back or creating unproductive tension?
  • What are you willing to do in the next 30 days?
  • What’s the one thing you’re hoping I won’t ask you about? (Make sure you have built solid trust before asking this one.)
  • What about this excites you?
  • How does this fit in with your current priorities?
  • How would you frame the underlying problem?
  • Who needs to be onboard for this to work?
  • What else?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • I know you think you don’t have a solution, but if you did know what to do, what would it be?
  • How will you know when you’ve achieved this goal? What will it look like/feel like?

These questions go hand-in-hand with the Coach Approach. If this style appeals to you, you might also enjoy “Grow Your Business the Coach Approach Way.”

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5 Replies to “My Best Coaching Questions”

    1. Hi timethief –
      I love your coaching question. It gets us thinking right away about the next step – and realistically, imagining what we might have to overcome.

      And I LOVE your quote about introverts. I bookmarked that page so I can pull it out again when I’m feeling over run by the extroverts. 🙂


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