Life Coaching is the Art of Asking Questions
Life coaching is based on the art of asking questions. A life coach will keep asking questions in such a way that help their client to keep digging deeper in search of the root cause.
Why haven’t you been going to class?
Client: I just don’t want to
Why don’t you want to?
Client: Because it doesn’t seem relevant to what I’m interested in learning about
Why are you taking the class then?
Client: Because I have to
Why do you have to?
Client: Because It’s part of a larger certification
What is the class about?
Isn’t that a good thing to want to learn?
Client: Yes, I’m sure it is but I just don’t want to go to that class
Could there be another reason you don’t want to go to that class?
Client: Yes, because there’s someone who is also taking that class that I am not talking to
Who is it?
Client: An ex-boyfriend
Why aren’t you talking to him?
Do you see how this just keeps going until you can find the very root of the problem? Ultimately, the client just didn’t want to face the ex-boyfriend but instead made unrealistic excuses to avoid talking to him. Eventually, she would end up talking to him and succeeded in the class. Do you also see how she was sabotaging herself to avoid facing a fear.
What Life Coaching is Not
Life Coach is not consulting, mentoring, therapy, or counseling. The core belief of life coaching is that the client has all of the answers within themselves.
As a new coach or practitioner, you may notice yourself naturally wanting to give advice, tell stories, or make suggestions. When you notice this, just stop and redirect your thoughts and focus back on asking strategic and powerful questions.
Here are some suggestions as to what you can do when you catch yourself doing this:
Pause in mid-sentence and suggest taking a moment to breathe and get re-centered. Say something like, “Wait, let’s refocus,” or, “Okay, let’s pause for a moment to get re-centered.” Now, remember the last thing they said and continue the session.
Should vs Could
Try to avoid the word “should” and replace it with “could.” Maybe you have heard the term, “don’t should on yourself.” Sometimes your client will say something like, “I should have known better.” This is a form of self-punishment and is not healthy. Instead, remind them that they are always just doing the best they can.
How to ask powerful questions
A Life Coach knows that asking questions is the most effective way to get to the core of a coaching session. Questions are your most useful tool. Some clients may be used to being told what to do and how to do it, while others feel they are expected to already know everything on their own. When it comes to figuring out things for themselves, clients like these may not know how to and this may cause them to remain co-dependent or lost. This is a very common learned behavior. Asking powerful questions will begin to help your client to start thinking for themselves, and will really get their wheels turning. The coach will also know when to ask deeper questions in search of the truth.
Imagine your client just said, “When I think of being out on my own, I feel scared.” This is a great opportunity to ask deeper questions like, “Why do you think that makes you feel scared?”
Imagine your client says, “I get so angry when he tells me what to do all the time.” Here you could say, “Why do you get so angry?”
As a coach, it is important to feel confident enough to keep asking deeper questions. The more you do this, the faster you will get to the root of the problem and onto a solution and action plan.
When forming a question, use a strategy that will help them dig deeper. Always look for the deeper meaning. Keep asking questions until you get to the source, and there are no questions left to ask.
In addition to the seven basic questions below, here are some other great sample questions that start with who, what, why, where, when and how…
Who do you need to forgive?
Who was there?
What are your thoughts about the situation?
What was going on then?
What do you need to heal?
What’s blocking you?
What are you afraid of?
What could you do differently?
Why do you think they said that?
Why do you think that happened?
Why would you do it that way?
Where do want to be in five years?
Where do you think that belief came from?
Where do you see this going?
When was the first time you remember feeling that?
When did that begin to show up in your life?
When do you think you will start doing that?
How do you think that happened?
How do you think you could you got to this place in your life?
How can you change that?
How long should a session be?
Sessions can vary in timing depending on your coaching strategies. A session can last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours or more but the average session is about one hour. It’s best to be more organic about it though because each client will move along at the pace that best works for them.
Where do I conduct the session?
There are several ways to conduct a session. This kind of service can be done from anywhere, including by phone or Skype. In-person sessions can be done at a local coffee shop, or other public settings although it is best to have a more private setting. Eventually, you could create an office space to do your sessions. You could also do your sessions at a local park out in nature.
What happens before you even begin your first session?
For your records, it is a good business practice to fill out a new client information sheet before your first meeting once you have your first client scheduled. You can find an example copy of the client information sheet under the forms section.
Print any worksheets for exercises that you may use and have a pen and paper for taking notes ready.
Create the Space: Creating a peaceful space before your client arrives is ideal, unless you are meeting in public. Turn off your cell phone and any electronics that may interrupt. Also, make sure you have the appropriate lighting for the type of session or exercise you will be using. Be sure you are emotionally present and ready to listen.
Thank your client for allowing you to be their coach.
Explain what coaching is and is not.
Let the client know what to expect: how long it will be, where it will be, let them know you will help them find answers, take initial steps, and create an action plan for moving forward.
Let them know that everything discussed will remain completely confidential, and will not be shared with anyone without their consent. This is very important because it will allow your client to share more information with you.
One Minute Meditation
Before every session, it is a good practice to do this one-minute meditation. It allows you and your client to release all that has happened that day so far and can help you or your client refocus from what they may still have to do. This allows you to become centered and present in this moment. Sometimes there is something they need to just get off their chest before they can relax enough to begin. Ask them if there is anything they would like to get out first, let that happen, then you will be able to move forward with the session with much greater ease.
Begin the session by centering yourself and asking your client to do the same. Work to focus on breathing and consciously fall into a more present and relaxed state. Release and become aware of the current moment. If needed you may encourage your client to take their time and let you know when they are ready to begin the session.
Start the Session
Ask your client what they would like to focus on today. It is very important to have a specific topic to work on before you begin. Once an intention is set, you can begin your work.
7 Most Powerful Questions
There are 7 basic questions in conducting a successful Life Coaching session…
- What do you want?
- Why do you want it?
- What have you done so far?
- What would it look like if you already had it?
- What may be stopping you?
- What could you do?
- When will you do it?
Get centered, and ask them to initiate the session when they are ready.
Introduce the exercise you would like to use for the session or…
Ask the first question…
Listen from the heart
Listen for what’s not being said
Ask deeper questions
Use tools and exercises when necessary
Acknowledge your client
Forward the action by asking powerful requests
Ask for their commitment and willingness to follow through (explain what is expected of them and that they need to do their part).
Create a written action plan
Close the Session
Use the 1-10 scale. Ask your client, on a 1 to 10 scale, 1 being not very satisfied and 10 being very satisfied, how would you rate our session today? If your client answers anything less than a 10, continue the session with asking your client, what would it take to bring this session to a 10? If it is less than a 10 it is usually because there is something more they need clarity on.
Ask your client, based on our session today, would you be willing to hire me as your Life Coach?
Give your new client two business cards, one for them and one for someone they know that may be interested in Life Coaching.
Thank them again for their time and willingness to take the first step.
Schedule follow-up session
It is always a good practice to have a follow-up session. This session should be included in the price of the original session. The follow-up session is just to check in with your client to see how they are doing.
Be clear on the time and date, where to meet or who will call who.
The follow-up session should only be about 10 to 15 minutes.
Ask them if they have any questions, if they are stuck or if they need more direction. If so, then schedule another session.
Set up your next session. If you didn’t already, now would be a good time to do it. Be clear on the time and date and where to meet.