Questions to avoid

In the last blog we looked at using powerful questions during coaching our clients. It is important to remember that as an ICF accredited coach, you are assisting the client to get to their own solution and not what you think they should do. Just as we want to use powerful questions, there are certain questions to avoid as they may hinder the coaching process.

Questions to avoid

Questions to avoid

Closed questions.

Question which typically elicit a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer or a one word response, and in doing so ‘closes’ the client down. If you were to ask a series of closed questions you would elicit very little from you client and may fail to stimulate their thinking or exploring options for moving forward.

Example of a closed question “Are you going to take some action?” elicits a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer but does not encourage the client to consider what action they want to take.

Asking closed questions can also give clients the opportunity to hide the truth or not be clear of their commitment. For example if you ask “Are you going to take action this week?” they may be naturally inclined to say ‘yes.’ If you ask instead, “On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to carrying out this action,” you are more likely to stimulate the client to consider the question more deeply and answer honestly.

Leading questions.

Leading questions are those phrased in such a way that imply a required answer within the question, in other words you are “putting words in the client’s mouth.”

Examples: “Aren’t you going to speak directly with the person involved?” or “When are you going to speak directly with the person involved?”

In the first example an answer (to speak directly with the person involved) is being suggested which gives little scope for thinking by the client. In the second, the answer is presupposed with scope just for the client to think about when they will do it.

Multiple questions.

Asking more than one question at once, for example: What happened and how did you feel?

Avoid asking your client multiple questions at once. This may confuse your client or prevent them from going deeper in answering the individual question. Thus not gaining as much as they could have. Remember the effective use of silence in coaching. You need to give your client the time and space to evaluate their response. Allowing your client time to consider each question, is important to allow them to fully explore their thoughts or feelings. Asking more than one question in one sentence will not only serve to confuse your client, but may cause them to rush into inadequately answering each question, forgetting part of the question or give them the opportunity to only answer those parts that they want to.

Why questions.

Questions beginning with “why” are open questions and can be useful for exploring motives; however, they should be used with caution as asking a ‘why’ question can sound confrontational. For example “why did you do that?” may sound critical so phrasing the same question in an alternative way may elicit a more positive response from your client. An example, “what made you take that course of action?” A subtle but powerful difference which can impact greatly on your employee. Further in our NLP training, we also typically want to avoid asking the questions “Why.” It can lead the client to give reasons why they may not have done something, rather than assisting them to find the way in which they “Can” get the result.

There are of course other questions to avoid during coaching and these were only some examples. The important thing is to remember that the focus is always on the client and their needs. Helping the client to be empowered to achieve their desired results in the way they choose. I hope you found this post useful and that it will assist you in your coaching sessions. Helping you to become the most amazing coach you can be.

If you want to find out more about the coaching courses offered by Coaching with NLP, simply contact us today and we will be more than happy to help.