Our world is filled with important questions. We go about our lives asking ourselves and others questions that impact on us and those around us, and those effects will ripple on and on.
So what questions should a coach ask, in order to start the process of making those waves that will have a positive and lasting impact?
Every experienced coach will have one or two questions with which they like to start the coaching conversation. However when you are starting on your coaching journey that first question can be a tough one to form, and sometimes your ideas might raise some doubts in yourself about undertaking this role.
The first question should be something that surprises the coachee, and in that moment or two of surprise they will often say something that comes from a deeper place than if they are answering the kind of question they are expecting.
The key thing in coaching is to hold on to the fact that a question that demands more than a yes or no answer will provide you with information about your coachee, and that information may become useful or important later in the intervention or on another occasion.
You could ask 'What's your favourite colour?' and you will get an answer, which contains information. Follow that trail by asking about the reason for this favouritism, and what associations the client makes with the colour, and more information will flow; about childhood or family, about a place or a time that has strong memory links...
Or ask someone what is important to them...right now...in their life, or their work. Follow that with an enquiry as to why this is important, and you will start to unlock facets of the client's thinking that will help steer the next part of the conversation.
At the beginning of the coaching process, a coachee will often want to think before answering, as they feel that it's somehow a test, and that they don't want to 'fail' at being coached. Asking a question that doesn't challenge them, and isn't what they expect is a great way to get past the gatekeeper of conscious thought and into the real person.
And it is, after all, the real person we want to coach.