Coaching Questions (Part 2 in the Series)

How to Improve Your Coaching Skills and Get Better Results

In the last article in the series, we touched briefly on the art of asking good questions in coaching. Any question that can be answered yes or no will not be as informational as an open ended question that leaves room for the client to open up to you and share more than you know to ask.

Open Questions:

  1. How did your tests go?
  2. How do you feel about that?
  3. What’s going on with that?

Resist the temptation to add on your own observations to the questions.  That leaves the client the opportunity to explore their own thoughts more fully and may also prevent their possible resentment for the wrong assumption.

You’re better off letting your client do the talking.


Listening to your client and summarizing what they said using your own words to say it back to them is reflection.

By reflecting, you are adding a new layer to the conversation.  You’re repeating back to them the information they shared with you as you understood it.


Client:  “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  I workout 5 days a week and it doesn’t seem like I’m getting anyplace.  I still get sore and I don’t feel any more energetic.”

Coach:  “It sounds like your pretty confused about your exercise results.”


Reflecting expands upon the conversation and gives you a much deeper understanding.

In response to your reflection, your client could answer you a couple different ways.  Either way, you have a much better understanding of where she/he’s coming from.


Client:  “That’s right, I just don’t know what to do to get results.”


Client:  “Heck no, I’m not confused at all.  I’m mad that I’m working this hard and nothing seems to happen.”

It may take a little practice before reflection feels natural, but it will be worth it.

There are different kinds of information you may reflect; content, feelings, conflict.

Content is who, what why, when, where and how.  It would include thoughts, beliefs, plans, ideas, attitudes, dreams, expectations, judgments, values.  Example for expectations; “I thought it would be easier to quit eating sugar.”

Inviting someone to share their feelings encourages them to talk about it even if it’s not comfortable.  Feelings include joy, fear, happiness, sadness, nervousness, relaxed and more.  Example for Feelings; “It seems you’re not worried about how fast this happens.”

Once your customer trusts you they may share their conflicts with you.  Conflicts may be self esteem, identity, meaning, hope, guilt, failure, loneliness and fear of aging.  This can be very difficult to talk about.

Often, when coaching, your customer will talk more about content than anything else.  It’s not as scary.  Once they get to know you they’ll talk more about feelings and conflict.

Cathy Sykora

Founder, The Health Coach Group

Cathy helps health coaches build and maintain successful businesses that improve the lives of others.


To Get You Started

  • What would you like to talk about today?
  • What could we work on that would make the biggest difference for you?
  • What’s happened since the last time we talked?
  • What would you like more of?  Less?
  • What have you always wanted to do, but haven’t?
  • What do you want to accomplish in our sessions?


  • What can you do today to make that happen?
  • What’s getting in the way?
  • Where are you stuck?


  • What are your options?
  • What stands out when you create pros and cons?
  • What has worked for you in the past?


  • Can you tell me more about that?
  • What would the repercussions be?
  • What would you do differently?


  • Did I understand this correctly?
  • What’s another way you’d say that?

The best way to get comfortable asking questions and good at listening is to practice.  Comment below and find another coach in the comments to practice with.  The more you do it, the better you get.


July 14, 2016 at 10 a.m. PT, 11 a.m. MT, 12 p.m. CST, 1 p.m. ET

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