What is a Powerful Question?

Nov 2017

It is one that can be only asked, in that moment, with that client, at that time. It is one that only belongs to the person who is sat in front of you.

For me a powerful question is a question that the clients haven’t yet asked themselves. It is the questions that make the client stop and think are the ones that create a shift, a new understanding or where new learning takes place.

Many of our trainees get hung up on asking the right question, is it powerful enough, did I stretch the client enough or did it challenge the client enough?

When we start out as a coach we want to make an impact, we want to add value and be clever with our questioning. Therefore we can tend to try too hard, which means we are coaching from our head and not from our heart.

When you ask questions from your head, you can overthink it, you can ask questions that we as the coach already know the answer to, and so does the client.

Every time we ask a fact finding question or perhaps a question that may take the client down a track to our way of thinking, then it is highly likely the client will get frustrated and will always get distracted. This gives the client opportunity to deflect and at times get into the detail of a story that perhaps is not as significant.

Therefore we need to be asking questions that they have not yet asked themselves. The ones that keep them on track keep them focused and ones that keep stopping them in their thinking, so they can pause, take a breath and understand themselves more.

Coaching is about holding the space for the client to really get to know themselves, to understand who they are, what they’re about and what they want to achieve. Our job is to help the client join the dots by asking questions that will lead to insights, to those aha moments and more importantly ones that help the client really connect with their true-self.

Remember a good powerful question can only be asked to that person in that moment. They are usually the ones that are quite straightforward, the direct, specific and succinct questions.

If you hear the client say “mmmm, that's a good question” or “I don’t know the answer to that, I need to think about that” then as a coach you have asked a powerful question. If you feel a little apprehensive about asking the question, but your gut is urging you on, then my advice is ask it. Its highly likely that the question forming is the one that can only be asked at that time, in that moment, with that client.

So what’s stopping you?