Open coaching questions are those which help your client to open up, think for themselves, explore possibilities and elicit more than just a one word response. Whilst it can be argued that your coachee’s actual response is more for your benefit than the coachee, the power of a good coaching session lies in being able to help your client to look at new possibilities, explore their own thoughts, ideas and feelings and come up with their own solutions to move forward. Open questions therefore will form the backbone of an effective coaching session.
Open questions typically start with ‘what,’ ‘how,’ ‘where,’ ‘who,’ ‘when’ or a statements such as ‘tell me about…’ or ‘explain to me more about…’
Examples: What would you like to achieve from the session? How did you do that? Tell me your experience
These are examples of fairly ‘wide open’ questions and you may want to ask more specific follow up questions which are still open but elicit a more focused or more specific response.
Examples: When have you achieved success in the past? Who can help you achieve this? When do you plan to do this by? Which option do you prefer?
Beware of the ‘why’ question Questions beginning with why are open questions too and can be useful for exploring motives or challenging however they should be used with caution as asking a ‘why’ question can sound confrontational. For example ’why did you do that?’ may sound critical so phrasing the same question in an alternative way may elicit a more positive response from your coachee, for example ’what made you take that course of action?