“To be or not to be? – That is the question!”

This is one of the most famous quotes known to us all, and what’s more, it’s one of the most powerful questions ever posed.

As coaches, our effectiveness stems from our ability to ask powerful questions. So, what makes a question ‘the’ question? A normal question is exactly that – one or more words ended in a question-mark. In our daily lives, we can all ask questions whether we are interested in hearing the answer or not! We may ask irrelevant questions, rhetorical questions, accusational questions, intrusive questions or inappropriate questions. Coaching, however, relies on exploring and guiding the client through ‘powerful’ questions and the effectiveness of this communication skill can set coaches of excellence apart from the rest of the pack.

Powerful questions are crafted in the moment, never pre-planned, and are created based on the information given to us by our client.

As coaches, we strive for our questions to have an impact. We aim to provide our clients with the opportunity to think deeply and differently so that they can uncover previously unseen possibilities.

A powerful question begins with a connected presence between coach and client. The coach is actively listening to what is and what isn’t being said by the client in the context of their goals for the coaching session and for the coaching program overall.

A great coach is attentive to who their client is as a person as well as the challenge, topic or issue that they’ve brought to the session.

There are no ‘rules’ for crafting powerful questions but there are techniques that will make your questions more powerful. These include:

The take-home message? The ‘perfect’ question doesn’t exist. But powerful questions can propel your clients beyond sticking points and towards their potential.


By Sam Patterson, MCC, Director of Training, Health Coaches International and Kristin McMaster, Business and Health Coach, Director of Health Coaches International.

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