Challenging skills are part and parcel of the skills toolbox for an effective coach.
So what do we mean by challenging in the coaching context? Challenge in effect is about not accepting at face value what is being said by your coachee. In challenging as a coach you are offering your coachee your own observations and presenting them with the opportunity for them to think more deeply and adopt an alternative viewpoint. Your challenging skills can help in a number ways.
Firstly it is about stretching your client, taking them beyond their usual self-imposed limits. For example they may say they will complete an action by the end of the month and you may respond with ‘I challenge you to complete that by the end of the day.’ They may reply that that is impossible but take up a challenge of completing the task say by the end of the week.
Challenge is also about confronting with your client what you have heard and picked up in the coaching sessions for example, inconsistencies, goals consistently not achieved or challenging current beliefs, thinking and values. Here as a coach this is about not being afraid to point out to your client what you have noticed in order to raise their own awareness of the situations.
For example here are a couple of challenging questions:
‘Each week you have seemed determined to carry out these actions but each time you have found some difficulties. What are you learning about yourself from this?’
‘Just now you mentioned that you wanted to start running again…although in your last session you said that you didn’t really enjoy running…tell me what the truth is here?’
‘You have said that in order to be a good parent you cannot leave them for any time with a babysitter. Where has this belief come from?’