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Coaching Questions

What are CLOSED questions?

When should I use them in coaching?

Closed questions are those that do not invite discussion but require a literal response, usually of a few words.

For example:

  • Was company xyz the last organisation you worked for? (yes or no)

  • When did you join this team? (a date or a year)

  • Do you like working with this team? (yes or no or sometimes)

  • Do you think customers are more important or staff? (customers or staff)

They are useful for:

  • Establishing facts

  • Closing down a topic

  • Focusing a more talkative coachee

  • Confirming agreement

  • Clarifying a situation – ‘Can I just check my understanding? Did you make that decision or did Marketing?’

What are OPEN questions?

When should I use them in coaching?

Open questions are those that invite the coachee to talk fully about a topic.

For example:

  • How did you decide what to do?
  • Why did you join this company?
  • What do you like about working with this team?

They are useful for:

  • Opening up an area to explore
  • Encouraging the coachee to think something through
  • Finding out more information
  • Getting the coachee to set the agenda

What are PROBING questions?

When should I use them in coaching?

Probing questions/statements can be used to open up the topic of conversation or probe generalisations such as “everyone”, “always”.

For example:

  • Tell more about that.
  • Explain that to me.
  • Can you give me a specific example?
  • What is it about x?
  • When did x happen?
  • How did you feel about x?

They are useful for:

  • Expanding the topic out after a closed question
  • Encouraging a coachee to expand after a short response
  • Encouraging a coachee to think about a situation or experience
  • Getting to what is not being said
  • Helping to provide more detail
  • Focusing on one element of the answer to an open question

Examples of coaching questions

  • What are your thoughts on this?
  • What is your concern on this, and how important do you think it is?
  • What is stopping us from making progress on this?
  • What do you see as your key contribution to the team?
  • What do you think we (or I, or you) can do about this?
  • What steps could we take with that now?
  • How do you see this going in the future?
  • What would it take for this process to be a success?
  • What obstacles will need to be overcome on the way?
  • What are all the different ways in which we could approach this issue?
  • What else could you do?
  • What would you do if you were me?
  • Which option would give the best result?
  • Which of these solutions appeals to you most?
  • Which would give you the most satisfaction?
  • How could the situation change?
  • How could you improve the situation?
  • What further support do you need?
  • How can you access this support?
  • Is there anything else we need to talk about?

Further information

Is this an area of concern for you? Contact Leading Governance for more help.

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