13+ Powerful Coaching Questions That Will Inspire Clients

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coaching questions

As a coach, you need to understand that coaching is a life-altering, and often a life-changing job. Your responsibility is to ensure that your client not only improves his life but also does not go off track.

Every experienced coach will confirm that a good coaching experience starts with asking the appropriate questions. Simple yet powerful questions asked at the right time in the right way could do more than we can imagine. By being simply curious and asking questions we have the power to eliminate traumas, destroy limiting beliefs, solve conflicts between values, as well as empower identities, and truthfully right behaviors.

In this article, we are going to suggest a list of killer coaching questions that your clients will love answering. Whether you are a life, health, transformational, leadership, or business coach, you will find these questions helpful. But before that, let’s have a look at the things you should do and don’t do while interacting with your clients:

Coaching Do’s:
  • Ask simple and open-ended questions
  • Demonstrate child-like curiosity and be present in the moment
  • Try to identify the client’s view of the world
  • Always seek to understand the position of your client
  • Challenge the client’s answers by asking more open-ended questions
  • Be patient and don’t rush the process
  • Ask permission before asking more extreme and personal questions
  • Rewind the client’s answers and repeat them in the following sessions
Coaching Don’ts:
  • Avoid asking binary (yes or no) questions
  • Don’t ask difficult and over-complicated questions that may confuse a client
  • Don’t try to solve your client’s problems with your solutions
  • Don’t try to agree or disagree with a client’s viewpoints
  • Don’t focus entirely on the past
  • Don’t judge your client or inspire negative emotions
  • Don’t set deadlines or apply pressure
  • Don’t humiliate or disrespect the client in any way

Most coaches make mistakes by solely focusing on gathering all the informational knowledge to convey to their clients in order to fix their problems. But that’s not the key to effective coaching. Remember, the client has all of the answers to his problems, and your answer may not be always relevant to his problem. The most important thing is being present, curious, and engaging with the client while asking exploratory questions and focusing on what he is saying.

The Best Coaching Questions To Ask Clients For Effective Coaching:

Let’s cover the main questions you should be asking your clients in the coaching sessions. Firstly, your questions should bring awareness to the client’s current situation. Then they should help them gain clarity towards the real goals as well as identify the obstacles. Lastly, your questions should inspire and motivate your client to make a commitment to change. Once you manage to do that, rewind your client’s answers and new beliefs every session to keep him on the right track.

Feel free to write all these questions down, and have them on a piece of paper when coaching your students.

Without further ado let’s begin:

1. Is there anything I shouldn’t ask you?

Some clients are not willing to be 100% open to you, and that’s completely fine. It is not only respectful but also very professional to clarify any questions that should be avoided. This will ensure a good atmosphere and positive flow between you and your client.

2. What would you like to achieve in this session?

This will help your client to visualize the progress just before you start a coaching session. The power of visualization can be tremendous, especially when you put good coaching in place. By asking this question at the beginning of every session, and providing great coaching simultaneously, you will make your client aware that he is making progress with you.

3. What is the problem that you think you are facing now?

This is a great introductory question to open up the conversation and find the primary reason why the client asked for your help. The key component of this question is “you think”. By saying that, we don’t presume that the client necessarily has a real problem, and perhaps it is only something exaggerated in his mind. This question will inspire the power of thought as well as help us identify whether the problem is more based on the client’s beliefs or on external factors.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • How do you know it is a problem for you?
  • What is your inner self telling you about this problem?
  • What has contributed to your problem so far?
  • Who has contributed to your problem so far?
  • What do you think is missing in your life?
  • Who do you think in your life is missing out?

4. How do you feel about that?

Whether the client feels afraid, sad, angry, or disappointed, this question directly inspires emotion, and emotion often explains what the real issue could be. Additionally, you can encourage more self-analysis and ask why he feels a certain way. This is a great way to build emotional connection and trust with the client from the very start.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • Why do you feel a certain way?
  • What exactly encourages you to feel that way?
  • How do people around you feel about that?
  • How do you feel that you’ve suffered enough?
  • When you will be ready for the change?

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5. What have you tried before to fix it?

By asking this, you will get to know your client’s methodology and willingness to make his life better. This question will also reveal how drastic he is when it comes to taking action. From there, you can ask the following questions, like – “What have you tried before that helped you?”, or “What have you tried before that hasn’t helped?”. Such open-ended questions will provide clarity to a client’s mind, so he can actually assess what is working for him, and what is not.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • What has contributed to your success so far?
  • What has contributed to your failures?
  • What did you learn from the attempts to fix it?
  • What are you telling yourself about the possible solutions?
  • What progress have you made so far?

6. What does success mean to you?

Ask this question in a passionate and curious way. This question is super relevant because most people do not precisely understand what success truly means to them. For the majority of people, success reflects materialistic things, but try to analyze what’s beyond that. Ask your client what feelings and emotions their definition of success would spark. Is there any other way to achieve that?

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • What do you really want in life?
  • What is really important to you?
  • What is your real purpose?
  • What could you sacrifice to achieve success?
  • How specifically will you know that you have achieved success?

7. What brings you joy?

Simple yet very powerful question. Joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, and every human being strives to experience it as much as possible. Ask a client what activities bring him the most joy in his life, and how could he have more of them. You can also ask what he thinks that prevents him from having more joyful experiences in life, as well as if there’s anything new and potentially exciting on his mind to experience.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • What do you feel gratitude for?
  • What is giving you the most energy in life?
  • What could you be happy about if you chose to be?
  • What are you not experiencing now that you want to experience?
  • How do people around you influence your happiness?
  • How could you spend more time with people that bring joy?
  • How do joyful experiences interfere with your definition of success?

8. What are your long-term goals?

Ask your clients where they want to be 5 or even 10 years from now. Most of us aim for short-term goals, and that distracts us from achieving significant life-changing results. This question will reduce the need for an immediate reward and influence delayed gratification along with higher ambition. You can also ask them where they have been 5 or 10 years ago, and where are they now, just to give them some perspective of what is possible to achieve in a long term.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, where are you?
  • What do you really want to achieve?
  • How have your goals changed from childhood until now?
  • Why are these goals important to you?
  • What is your plan to get there?
  • What habits do you have that support your goals?
  • How will you celebrate achieving your goals?

9. What is stopping you?

When you ask clients a question like this, they begin to consider potential difficulties and roadblocks that prevent them from achieving goals and success. Finding a solution to the issues and limiting beliefs is much easier when we are aware of what is getting in the way of our clients. This question also helps clients determine how serious these challenges and obstacles are, and what could be the ways to overcome them.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • Why haven’t you reached that goal already?
  • What habits prevent you from reaching your goals?
  • What’s the downside of your dream?
  • How do other peoples’ opinions impact your actions?
  • How could you eliminate your obstacles so they never come back?

10. What if you weren’t afraid?

Fear is holding us back from achieving many things, and it is the number one reason why we don’t take appropriate action. This powerful question encourages clients to identify and eliminate the fears that are holding them back from success. It allows them to realize what is waiting on the other side of the fear as well as gives them some power to beat it.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • What’s the worst that can happen if you won’t succeed?
  • What’s the worst that can happen if you won’t even try?
  • What makes you afraid of failure?
  • If anything was possible, what would you do?

11. What would be your first step towards your long-term goal?

Once a client has defined his long-term goals, it’s time to ask what would be the first step towards them.  Long-term big goals may seem very overwhelming, and many people fail to achieve them just because they lack clarity. Having a clear step-by-step roadmap will help the client think clearer and stay more focused on the path. If he manages to decide on his first step, you can ask about his 2nd, 3rd, and other steps in the following sessions.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • What are your options?
  • What do you think you need to do next?
  • Have you committed to action, or are you just hoping to?
  • How can you enjoy the process while reaching your goals?
  • What you would have to sacrifice to achieve your goals?

12. How achieving your goals will affect you and your loved ones?

Again we inspire visualization with this question. The client will experience a flow of positive future scenarios and realize how taking little and consistent action steps can be worthwhile not only for himself but also for the others around him. We are emotionally attached to the people we love, and by realizing how our behavior can positively impact them, inspires the extra motivation and accountability to proceed forward.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • What habits do you have to obtain to get there?
  • What do you have to learn or unlearn to get there?
  • How determined you are to change for your goals?
  • What is really important for your loved ones?
  • Do people around you want you to change?
  • Why do people around you want you to change?
  • How do you see that people around you want you to change?
  • How can your loved ones help you with this?
  • How will you keep yourself accountable?

13. How NOT achieving your goals will affect you and your loved ones?

Not flip it to the other side. Ask your client to imagine the negative scenario of the things he and his loved ones would miss if the goals will not be achieved. This will inspire some fear of missing out as well as responsibility which can be also very motivating.

Follow-up & similar questions you can ask:

  • If you don’t make it, what will it mean?
  • If you don’t make it, what will it cost?
  • How this failure will impact the people around you?
  • How seriously the younger you would consider this failure?
  • How seriously the older you would consider this failure?
  • What would be the pros and cons of not achieving your goal?

Final Words:

Great coaching starts with simple questions that are asked in an energetic, positive, and most importantly, curious way. Your main job as a coach is to let the client recognize his beliefs and let him guide himself towards changing them. Avoid suggesting your solutions to your client’s problems and don’t try to agree or disagree with his points of view.

Here we have covered a list of simple yet powerful questions to ask during the first coaching sessions. In the following sessions, you can ask some of the original questions to see if the client is on the right fundamental path as well as ask new questions like –

  • How is your plan going?
  • What’s working and not?
  • What have you learned so far?
  • What are the new obstacles in your way?
  • How are you feeling about the change?
  • How determined are you to proceed?
  • & so on…

Thank you for reading this article. If you want more great information on coaching, you can also check out:

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