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5 categories of questions you can use to unlock what your clients are thinking

Questions are at the heart of being effective at demonstrating empathy in a coaching relationship.

At the beginning of every coaching call, I will begin with a question that will allow the client to inform me where they are mentally and emotionally. I like to begin by asking direct and open question. “Tell me about what has gone well since our last call.” How this request is answered will direct me as to what type of questions to ask next.

Having the client share what is on top of their mind gives them a chance to do some emotional clearing before getting focused on either the planned topic of the day or what new has happened that needs attention now.

I have found that using these five categories of questions helps the client gain clarity.

The client will have a better understanding of why they feel the way they do. These questions will give them insight into their alternative choices or perspectives. Questions that allow them to explore evidence. All in all, the questions used during the discovery phase of a coaching call will give both the coach and clients clarity in deciding what action to take next.

Listed below are the five Categories of Questions that I have found to work well in a coaching session.

Clarify Thinking

“Tell me more about…” questions.

The idea is to get them to explore more about what they are asking or thinking.

Challenge Assumptions

“Have you considered…” questions.

The idea is to get them to challenge what they believe to be true by exploring other perspectives.

Explore Alternative Perspectives

“What else?” questions.

The idea is to expand their thinking so that they have options in behavior, solutions, and outcomes.

Considering Consequences

“What’s the price/cost?” questions.

The idea is to help them consider the impact of their perspective, behavior, etc.

Exploring Evidence

“What do the Facts Say?” questions.

The idea is to help them expose evidence and, by doing so, confirm their thinking, balance their thinking, or change their thinking based on the facts.

Bonus category

Curious About the Question

“Why THIS?” questions.

These questions are designed to help them consider whether the question is one that is:

1. Relevant

2. Answerable

3. Worth spending the energy on

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