is this the most important coaching question you can ever ask?

Useful question

16th November 2018

Author: Nick Bolton

What do you think the most important coaching question is? Indeed, is there one?

Surely there are so many that there can’t be just one. There are so many factors that come into play that there can’t be just one question: “One Question to rule them all”, as Coach Frodo might have it!

Well, let’s assume that there is, for a moment. Take a few seconds to decide yours.

Got it?

I do believe that one, most important coaching question exists.

And I also believe that coaches spend too much of their time trying to ask the right question when this right one already exists.

What is that question?

I don’t know. But the client does.

The most important question you can ask in coaching is already in your client’s head, and your job is to find out what it is.

They know what they need to address. They know what’s important to them. They know what they’re avoiding. They know the thing they really want to sort out.

And every time a coach asks an off-target question it creates frustration and false turns, and distracts from what the client really needs to talk about.

Coaching is ultimately about creating the space for people to face what they really need to face. And all we need to do is provide them with the trigger questions, the space and potentially some reflections that allow this to happen.

And here’s the thing. It’s easy to do. You simply say, “What is the question that you need me to ask you right now?”

And they tell you.

Then you can ask it.

Does it seem too easy? Try it. It really works, and your client will thank you for respecting their right to address the questions that are most important to them, rather than you.

Perhaps you’re thinking that it’s cheating, and that as a coach we should already have the questions and the ability to probe. And yes, we should – but only when we know what the client truly needs to explore.

So, what’s the most important coaching question?

The one in your client’s head.

Author Details

Nick Bolton

Nick is the founder and CEO of the Animas and International Centre for Coaching Supervision. Along with his love of coaching and supervision, he is a a passionate learner with a fascination for philosophy, psychology and sociology.

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