The Heart of Coaching: Questioning
By Zainal Abidin Rahman B Sc, ACCA, MA(HRD)

The heart of coaching really lies in the power of questioning. I prefer questions that direct the client’s mind toward possibilities and potential rather than dwell on past problems. Here is a sample of solutions focus questions that will give you a glimpse of what actually happens during a coaching session. Obviously, it is important for the questions and answers to be free flowing by building relevant questions on client’s answers, like in a dance. Otherwise it becomes an interrogation!
Tips when coaching:

• Beware of your tone of voice – your negative judgment will surface up in your voice.
• Talk in a friendly manner like friends having a good chat – except that this is a chat with direction and purpose.
• Build rapport whenever you sense unease and hesitancy
• Have good eye contact without staring
• Be comfortable with silence – give time for client to speak up, especially in between pauses.

Questions Purpose and/or direction the
coach wants the client to move to
What should we discuss in this meeting so that this conversation will be useful?
Getting client to set goals and be self-directed
Ok so you wish to talk about this problem.
Can you elaborate a bit more about the problem?
How will you know that the problem is solved?
What will you notice?
How will you notice this?
What will you do differently then?
Acknowledging the problem, yet orienting client towards the future when the problem is solved.
The presupposition is that the problem can be solved.
What would be the smallest step you could take to solve this problem?
What else?
What else?
Chunking down the solution into small achievable steps.
How would other people notice that you are making progress?
What would your father (or mother or best friend or boss or colleagues) say you would be doing differently when things improved?
What else?
What else?
Expanding the possible solution(s) into the client’s working system
What else do you have to tell me so that I can see this situation even more correctly?
Getting cooperation and initial indication of willingness to follow up on assignments from the client.
Have you ever solved similar problems?
How did you solve them on that occasion?
Who helped you?
How did he or she help you?
Using exceptions and looking for resources for possible solutions to the problem.
Are there moments when the problem is less intense?
What is different then?
How did that happen?
Adding in nuances instead of black and white description of the problem.
Also looking for exceptions as possible solution.
Has something changed since we scheduled this meeting about the conflicts concerning the project?
Looking for signs of spontaneous pre-session changes that we could use to deepen the change.
Now that you have achieved that, what is the next small step you could take?
Then what next?
Then what next?
Building successes on prior success
Now imagine this problem is solved.
What will be different then?
What will you do differently?
What will your colleagues do differently?
What will the teachers do differently?
Without that problem bothering you, what higher things could you aim to do?
Orientating the client toward the future by visualizing a future in which the presenting problem is solved.
Adding in a compelling motivation drive.


Zainal is a business trainer and coach specializing in personal and organizational change. He has worked with thousands of clients, individuals and corporate, and brings with him expertise in OD, HR, NLP, ericksonian hypnosis, Solutions Focus, Appreciative Inquiry, The Enneagram, energy psychology and various other effective modalities that create change at the personal and corporate levels. Contact:

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