Article Being an effective life coach requires asking the right things. Make sure to stock up with killer coaching questions! 0 2023 Life coaching https://www.lifecoachhub.com/img/uploads/articles/thumbs/1214_1674805807.jpg Best practice coaching techniques life coaching Lifecoachhub Pty Ltd LifeCoachHub

Killer Coaching Questions: 36 Powerful Queries by Niche (+ PDF)

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Killer coaching questions plus downloadable PDF

Why do we ask questions? 

Curiosity. 

We want to uncover truths, discover answers, and even explore untapped ideas. People are wired with the need to make the unknown known. But questions differ when used in life coaching compared to in our everyday conversations. 

The stark difference? You ask your clients killer coaching questions. These have the intent of shedding light on solutions for their problems. Think of questions as prompting an “aha” moment for them. 

Basically, questions are the gateway to get people to open up to you. The thought-provoking questions can shock clients into the realization of what they need to do. That is, to solve whatever it is that troubles them. 

Questions that you ask have the ability to clarify thoughts. Then they challenge your clients into taking actionable solutions. This is one of the amazing things in life coaching. You are giving your clients an environment that encourages problem-solving and thinking. 

Posing powerful coaching questions puts your clients into a reflective state. Such a state can be impossible to get into outside your sessions, especially with their busy lives.

What Makes a Killer Coaching Session?

Why, by asking killer coaching questions, of course! These questions are, after all, the heart and soul of coaching. Asking powerful questions is one coaching technique that you need to master. 

But there is so much more to your sessions than the act of asking questions. You have to show your genuine interest in your clients’ answers. By doing so, you can create meaningful relations and conversations with them. Your clients need to feel that they can trust you for the whole coaching to work. They want a safe thinking space with you as the active listener. 

Your questions can also bring out your clients’ creativity and new ways of thinking beyond their limits and blind spots. Clients come to you with specific modes of thinking they have developed and have become used to. However, these may be ineffective for what they want to achieve. It is then up to you to help them discover a different mindset and push beyond their limiting beliefs. One that will incite positivity and an ability to change. 

Powerful coaching questions will help to be that push for your clients to become aware of their blind spots. 

They can also help to get your clients on board to fully committing to what needs to be done. There’s no “trying” here. There’s only ?commitment in moving from an unpleasant situation to a more desirable one. 

Questions are also great for eliciting precise answers. You want to ensure that you understand everything during your coaching sessions. Asking killer coaching questions serve as clarifications for answers that are too vague for you to make sense. You are urging your clients to take a stance and be clear about their goals, fears, obstacles.

How do you know when you’re asking a powerful coaching question? It’s when your client becomes silent for a time before answering. Or it can be when they respond with the phrase “that made me think” (van Nieuwerburgh, 2020). 

If you got all of these aspects covered and then some, you, my friend, just held a killer coaching session. Chances are, you also get to keep your clients satisfied. 

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What are the Different Types of Questions?

I think you’re already familiar with two types of questions: open and closed. But there are not only two but four types that we will discuss. And no, not all four are used in life coaching sessions. We’ll discuss them all nonetheless for you to know which ones to use and those to avoid. 

Open Question

The best type of question to ask your clients is an open-ended one. If you think about it, clients are almost obligated to provide you with thought-out answers. A non-committal yes or no or the occasional shrug isn’t going to cut it. When you ask this type of question, you are encouraging your client to dig deep for an answer. This is the best way to get them into a reflective state.

Some open questions are the following:

  • What are your main goals for our coaching together?
  • How does that make you feel?
  • What are your biggest challenges right now?

Closed Question

From the name itself, this next type is the opposite of an open question. A simple yes or no will suffice to answer it. A closed question might also elicit a short phrase or word when you’re asking a fact about your clients. Closed questions are more straightforward than the other types. You can use this type when you want to clarify what you understood from your clients’ answers. 

Here are a few closed questions:

  • How long have you been in that job?
  • What is the name of your eldest child?
  • When did you move there?

Leading Question

Coaches should avoid asking leading questions. This line of questioning can manipulate clients into thinking a certain way. It’s as if you’re robbing your clients of the ability to think for themselves. You get to implant whatever idea or thought you deem helpful but may not be essentially so. A leading question is suggestive. Often, this type already contains the preferred answer or a piece of advice, which, as you know, is not recommended in coaching. 

Examples of leading questions are as follows:

  • Don’t you think it’ll be a good idea to talk to your supervisor about making some changes in the office?
  • Do you think that maybe you and your co-workers should join forces to make your boss see that something’s wrong?
  • How about a boycott on a day’s worth of work to show your superiors that the injustices should stop?

Multiple Questions

Delivered continuously and without pauses, multiple questions are asked without leaving room for answers. You’re firing several questions all at once toward your clients. Doing so can be unnerving and unhelpful for them. There’s a chance that they won’t manage to keep up with all your questions and can only manage to answer the last ones. 

Here is an example:

  • Why aren’t you happy with your current job? I thought you said that it was your dream ever since college? Is it because professional growth has stopped? But you did say that you’re up for a promotion? Maybe what you want in life has changed, and your job no longer aligns with that?

The Open Question: Why Stick to This Question Type in Coaching

Asking powerful coaching questions distinguishes dynamic learning from a one-way interrogation. According to the Havard Business Review, the quality of the questions you ask also eliminates a command-control relationship. What you have with your client, instead, is growth through self reflection. The questions you are going to ask should be able to make the busiest of your clients stop in their tracks. Because once they do, self examination follows. 

By now, it should already be clear which two to use and which to avoid. Open questions should be used the most often because, as mentioned already, they encourage clients to provide thoughtful answers. You get to challenge them to devise the right actions. Following through can get them from point A to point B. 

Closed questions can also be useful for getting information from your clients. You need a specific detail about them, use closed questioning. However, use closed questions with a light hand. You will shut down the conversation quickly if you ask one closed question after another.

As for the other two question types, let’s avoid those. In fact, let’s throw them outside the “coaching room” altogether. You shouldn’t manipulate your clients with a leading question. And you shouldn't disorient them with multiple questions. 

All in all, make sure you have a genuine interest in the answers of your clients. A client can usually tell when you’re just asking for the sake of asking, and because that’s what you do as a life coach. 

Curiosity can help you come up with the right question, in turn, for them to arrive at that moment of self-discovery.

What Makes a Killer Coaching Question?

characteristics of killer coaching question coaching tipIt’s easy to ask questions. You know what the hard part is? It’s choosing which ones to ask. 

In order to help you segregate helpful questions from those that aren’t, we made you a list! Here are the characteristics of the questions to ask during your coaching sessions: 

  • They come from preparation. Showing up at your sessions prepared is important. It shows that you did your homework. Also that you are knowledgeable of your history together, and their current situation. 
  • They are not judgmental. Sometimes, it’s difficult not to attach judgment when we ask questions. But as a coach, you need to prevent yourself from doing so. Your client needs to come to your sessions completely open, and that only comes from unconditional positive regard from their coach.
  • They showcase expertise. But not to the point of showing off. Yes, your clients need to be reassured that you are capable of helping them, but not to the point where the whole session revolves around you.
  • They are focused more on the future. Leave the past behind. I bet that’s what most of your clients want anyway. They are more concerned about what tomorrow will bring than what yesterday did to them. 
  • They encourage thinking and challenging beliefs. Powerful coaching questions make your clients reflect on what they know.  From there, make the necessary changes to move forward in the direction they want.

What Killer Coaching Questions to Ask? 

At this point, let’s move on to the good part of the article. I know you’re dying to know some of the powerful coaching questions to ask. There are a lot, so we group them according to their applicable situation. 

To keep things interesting, the questions are categorized under some of the most famous questions posed by notable people and asked in films. 

If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one? 

– Abraham Lincoln: Questions about personal development and being true to yourself

No matter how much any of us denies it, we all want to belong and be accepted. The sad part about this is that we do it at the expense of being true to ourselves and what we truly want. 

As a life coach, you can help clients break free of these twisted social shackles by asking these questions:

  • What are you so passionate about that your eyes gleam with excitement whenever you talk about it?
  • How do you think will it affect your passion if other people deem what you want unconventional? 
  • What would you do if money and time were not restricting you from anything?
  • What are you most afraid of? 
  • What’s keeping you from dipping your toes in the water?
  • How will what you want to impact the other areas of your life?

coaching questions for personal development

You want the truth? 

– A Few Good Men: Questions for offering support and holding clients accountable

The truth may be hard to hear, but offering clients anything that is sugar-coated can only hinder their growth and change. Avoid this by offering support through the following questions:

  • Is there anything you aren’t saying out loud that I should know about to help you stay on track?
  • How do you measure your progress?
  • Am I doing things that are helpful to you? What are they?
  • Do I need to change my approach in our coaching sessions? Which aspects?
  • What actions do you take to keep yourself from diverging on the path leading to what you truly want?

coaching questions for support and accountability

Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? 

– Starman: Questions that challenge and motivate clients

If you think you can baby your clients into changing, then you're kidding both of yourselves. Dare them to think big and act even bolder. You need to toughen up your clients by challenging them with these questions:

  • What would you be capable of if you didn’t have to answer to anyone?
  • What would you suggest to someone who came to you in the same situation you are currently in?
  • What are the things you could be doing if you didn’t hold back anymore?
  • What would you do if there were guaranteed success behind it?
  • What are you going to do to achieve your goal?

coaching questions for motivation

You talkin' to me? 

– Taxi Driver: Questions that show clients that you understand their situation

You ask the questions. You listen to your client's answers. And in doing so, you move towards understanding. What you understand about the situation gives way to your other questions. If something is not clear, or you need to probe deeper, you can ask these questions:

  • Are there resources you haven't used yet that can be helpful in your situation?
  • Is the problem in the task at hand or in your attitude or feelings towards it?
  • Is there any positive intention behind what you are doing?
  • What books should you be reading to give you a different perspective on this? 
  • Who are the people you should be hanging out with to help create a better mindset?
  • Who do you admire? What would they do in this kind of situation?

coaching questions to go deeper

Why so serious? 

– The Dark Knight: Questions relating to happiness

There's an idea we often cling to that we can only be happy once we achieve a certain something, whether that be a relationship, dream job, house or other aspiration. But I say to you, you can be happy at any point in your life. The choice always lies with you. It is up to you if it's going to be conditional or not.

Help your client choose happiness by asking these questions:

  • Are you happy with how your life is turning out? 
  • What can you do to make yourself purposeful?
  • Who are the people you feel happiest around? Why do you value their relationships with you?
  • What are the simple joys that make you feel alive? How often do you indulge in them?
  • Who and what are you most grateful for? Why do you think you don’t carry a heavy weight when they are near you?

coaching questions for happiness

What, like it’s hard? 

- Legally Blonde: Questions relating to career change

Moving from one career to another can be terrifying. Your client is jumping ship for another unpredictable one. That takes a lot of guts. 

To ease them into this kind of transition and help them find clarity, here are the questions you can ask your client:

  • How do you feel at your current job? 
  • How do you see your old job in comparison to a new career path?
  • In what field can you see yourself growing professionally?
  • How do you think you’ll feel if you take a new job and leave your old one?
  • What possible difficulties and adjustments in a new career are you afraid of? 
  • What is holding you back from taking the plunge?
  • What do you think will be the most challenging obstacle with this career transition?
  • What actions have you taken since you decided on this change?
  • What actions do you still need to take?

coaching questions for career change

Why it Doesn't End with Killer Coaching Questions

It is not in asking that you understand your clients. It is in actively listening to them when they answer your killer coaching questions. 

Indeed, one of the benefits of listening is its “maturing value,” or the ability to understand your client's thoughts and feelings, whether you are in agreement with them or not (Iwankovitsch, 2001). You may have your own ideas of how the world works that aren't the same as your clients, but this shouldn't stop you from actively listening to them.

Asking questions is one thing. Listening is the other half that goes with it for you to deem a session successful. Just think about coaching where there's no listening. How would you know the next best question to ask? How would your clients get the clarity that they need?

At the end of each coaching session, killer questions are only as effective if you have the killer listening skills to go with them.

Want additional powerful coaching questions? Come and visit our gallery!

Download the PDF of our powerful coaching questions here.


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