In my last email I looked at listening and to put listening into practice you often will be asking questions. Your ability to ask questions, that reveal information that is of maximum benefit to your client, is an essential coaching skill.
It is important to actively listen so that the next question you ask will be as a result of your listening. If you already know what the next question is, you are not listening! Your questions should be phrased in such a way that they meet the client's perspective - using their language can help when you frame your questions and enable you to communicate more effectively. As an example, If a client says something like 'Do you see what I mean?', you could reply with 'Yes I get the picture.'
Your questions should at times be challenging and may make the client rethink their assumptions so they can discover views outside their own mindset. Questions can also be a call to action and help the client commit to what they are preparing to do. For example, 'When will you be able to complete your theory test? If they respond, 'Next week' you might ask 'Is that realistic? What do you need to do to succeed? Tell me what you are going to do for this to happen?'
Effective questions are open questions that you, the coach, do not know the answer to. Questions should help the client provide greater clarity about what they are trying to achieve and also create new learning opportunities. For example, 'Explain to me how you would achieve this? or 'Can you think of another way that you will be able to do this?'
Coaching questions are often forward-focused and work towards what the client desires, they avoid getting the client to justify themselves or look backwards upon past behaviours. Coaching questions engage the client fully in the learning process.
In the next email I will look at how the coach directly communicates using clear and articulate language.
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