Solutions focused questions are a really effective way of moving a coachee towards a solution rather than dwelling on the issue or the causes of the problem, and your coachee can reach a solution in a very short period of time if you take this approach.
Here are some examples comparing problem focused questions with their solutions focused alternatives:
Problem focused: What is the problem? Solutions focused: What would you like to achieve from this session?
Problem focused: What is hindering you? Solutions Focused: What progress have you made so far?
Problem focused: Why is this an issue for you? Solutions focused What would it mean to achieve success?
Problem focused: How long have you been experiencing difficulties? Solutions focused: When in the past have you achieved a positive outcome?
Problem focused: Who is to blame? Solutions focused: Who can help you?
Exercise: To really experience the difference between problem focused and solutions focused try this exercise with a willing partner:
Ask the series problem focused questions to your ‘coachee’ first allowing time for them to respond to each one. They may do this in their head. At the end ask them to feedback the effectiveness of these questions and how they made them feel.
Now ask the series of solutions focused questions, again giving the coachee time to respond. How effective were these and how do they feel as a result?
Now ask them to do the same to you.
You should notice a huge difference in the impact that each set of questions has on the ‘coachee’ – the first set leaving the coachee dwelling on the problem and possibly feeling negative, the second set of questions leaving the coachee feeling much more positive with some thoughts about how they can move forward.