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5 powerful types of life coaching questions to ask in every session

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Updated on:
December 11, 2022
December 11, 2022
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Powerful questions play a crucial role in the coaching relationship. They may serve different purposes at various stages of the development process, but overall, asking the right life coaching questions will encourage the client to come up with their own solutions and raise awareness of their current situation. If you lead a simple conversation without incorporating purposeful questions, it will be difficult to incite the same accountability that produces outcomes.

Life coaches are not there to provide a quick fix but to allow clients to reach conclusions on their own terms through your advice. Even if you believe you are dealing with a well-known pattern, and feel compelled to solve it for them, one way or another, it will just not have the same impact as a guided thoughtful introspection based on well-structured coaching questions.

Read on to better understand how to make a bigger impact on every single coaching session.

Note: Bonsai is helping tons of coaching professionals to seamlessly manage administrative tasks and client relationships. We offer excellent tools to create tailored questionnaires, intake forms, invoicing and much more! Get your free 7-day trial today.

5 Types of Questions to Ask in All Your Coaching Sessions

Effective life coaching sessions happen when you can maintain an open and sincere conversation with your clients about their goals. You want to focus more on listening than on interrogations, which is why asking the right coaching questions (and in the right way) is essential in your practice.

In order to do this, you want to make sure every session includes open ended coaching questions that encourage your clients to self-reflect on their actions, stay focused on solutions, share their motivations, and identify unhealthy habits in their current reality. Let's do some further reading into some details about these vital types of coaching questions.

Recommended reading: Read our life coaching intake questionnaire to discover the kinds of questions a life coach should ask.

Open Ended Coaching Questions

Monosyllabic responses to questions are ineffective for coaching; if you ask yes-or-no questions the result will often lack substance and you will need multiple follow-up questions to get the information you need. Instead, ask questions that begin with what, where, when, how, and who, which should elicit a more reflective answer.

This leads to a more thorough conversation that gives you information you can use to better understand your clients and involve them in discussions about how to grow and improve their skills. Keep in mind that using "why" inquiries will also get an open-ended response, but because they can come across as critical and aggressive, it's advisable to use them very occasionally to avoid creating hostility.

Here are examples of powerful open-ended questions you could incorporate in your coaching conversations.

  • What difficulties are you now experiencing?
  • Is there a person who could help you gain more clarity on this issue?
  • What do you hope will be your biggest win from our session today?
  • What do you feel is necessary for you to advance?
  • How will achieving this goal affect your daily life?
  • What does success look like to you?
  • What would be the first step you could do right now to advance?
  • When do you want to reach this objective?
  • What inspiring future would you like to work towards?

Coaching Questions for Self-Reflection

Asking your clients to consider their routines, behaviors, or practices and challenging them to view things from a different angle in order to move forward is a great life coaching method. Reflective questions should be created to increase self-awareness of performance or behavior as a means of analysis and improvement, whether the issue is one of professional development, personality or the need for them to grow in a particular area.

These type of coaching questions will also liberate your clients from any emotional baggage they may have brought to the coaching session. It also gives them an opportunity to stay objective and maintain a certain level of emotional distance from their own actions and behavior. Having a more subjective perspective will be extra helpful to achieve growth and change.

Try including these powerful reflective questions in your next coaching conversation.

  • What do you believe your coworker was upset about that caused him or her to become angry?
  • What would you need to see from your partner to have a stronger relationship?
  • What do you believe was truly happening at that moment?
  • What guidance would you provide a friend in a similar situation?
  • What does your intuition tell you to do about this?
  • What future concern most frightens you?
  • When was the last time you ventured outside of your comfort zone?
  • What aspect of your everyday routine makes you the happiest?
  • Is your goal the right size to be working on? Too big? Break down into smaller goals. Too small or uninspiring? Make it into a larger or stretch goal.
  • What would be the MINIMUM/Super-Easy level of goal to achieve?
  • What would be your TARGET level of goal to achieve?
  • What would be your EXTRAORDINARY level of goal to achieve?

Note: Try Bonsai to create your life coach intake form. Our software lets you create and design beautiful intake forms and various other templates. See for yourself how easy it is. Claim your 7-day free trial here.

Focus Questions

During your coaching sessions, you will often have to help your client shift their focus from a negative to a positive perspective. This can be challenging at times, especially if coaches haven't established a good level of rapport yet. So including a set of powerful questions to direct the conversation in a way that is beneficial for both and allows the client to clearly see what resources they have available.

Here are some useful questions to shift focus during a coaching session.

  • What do you consider to be the true challenge here?
  • How did you handle a comparable circumstance previously?
  • What do you believe you should do at this time?
  • Which decision do you feel prepared to make?
  • How might you reframe this circumstance to highlight your own power?
  • What do you want to emphasize throughout this conversation?
  • How can you apply that knowledge for your upcoming test or course of action?
  • Is this goal in line with your life vision/overall life-plan? If you don't know, what does your gut tell you?
  • Is this goal in line with your values? Unsure? First ask yourself what's REALLY important to you in life, then ask if this goal will help you achieve more of that?
  • Are your goals something YOU truly want, or are they something you think you SHOULD have or SHOULD be doing? Tip: If it's a SHOULD, this may be an outdated goal or someone else's dream…
  • When you think about your goal does it give you a sense of deep contentment or 'rightness', happiness and/or excitement? If so, these are good signs that it’s a healthy goal.
  • If you could have this goal RIGHT NOW, would you take it? If not, why not? What issues are there?
  • How does this goal fit into your life/lifestyle? Time/effort/commitments/who else might be impacted?

Coaching Questions to Understand Motivations and Values

In order for your client to experience positive and fruitful life change, they must be the ones driving their own motivation. However, they expect you as their coach to support and encourage them to embrace growth and transition. Asking powerful coaching questions that help you understand what inspires them will make it a lot easier for you to achieve this goal.

Aside from their motivations, it's vital for you to comprehend their values as well as how they impact their behavior, choices and even how they perceive the world.

Dig deeper with these insightful coaching questions.

  • Can you recall an instance when you were extraordinarily motivated at work?
  • What exactly about this situation inspired you so much?
  • What would make you leave if you had all of these things?
  • What's the difference you're looking to make?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how driven are you to carry out those improvements successfully?
  • What are you appreciative of?
  • What makes that result or outcome essential to you?
  • How are you going to hold yourself responsible for taking action?
  • How would helping yourself achieve this goal would benefit those around you?

Questions to Address Habits and Structures

A skilled life coach can assist their clients in identifying harmful habits and providing the necessary coaching tools to replace them with more sustainable behaviors. Use powerful questions to identify bad habits, people in their life who may be incentivizing unhealthy behaviors, as well as any psychological or physical setting that may be hindering your client's way forward.

This may give you a different perspective into why your clients are struggling to build a better relationship with those around them and opens new possibilities to provide more structure to your program.

Here are some example questions you can use.

  • Are you acting in your own best interests or to appease others?
  • Do your actions reflect fear or faith?
  • Who else is hurt by this?
  • Do you want this only for your own pleasure or are you avoiding something else?
  • What has been wonderful in your life lately?
  • Does the environment you're in now adequately support who you're becoming?
  • Is it time to work on this habit right now?
  • Is there anyone else involved in this situation, and how?
  • Are you procrastinating or can you identify other reasons for the delay?

Focusing on the Outcome.

A life coach who drives their client to think of the end goal and work backwards to their current state is really setting them up for success. However, it isn't by coincidence that your client is able to envision their end state. You have to prime them with very specific questions that place them in the right frame of mind such as the ones below:

  • What is it that you really, REALLY want? Dig deep…
  • What is the SPECIFIC outcome you're looking for?
  • What is the PAIN for you of NOT achieving your goal?
  • Can you start—and maintain—the action necessary to achieve this goal?
  • How will making this change affect other aspects of your life? ie. What might you need to deal with in order to achieve this goal?
  • What's good about your CURRENT situation? ie. What's the benefit of staying right where you are? Then ask, how can I keep those good aspects while STILL making this change?
  • WHAT might you have to give up/stop doing to achieve this goal? Essentially, what's the price of making this change—and are you willing to pay it?
  • If there was something important around achieving this goal (to help you succeed, or that could get in the way) that you haven't mentioned yet, what would it be?
  • WHO will you have to BE to achieve this goal?

Create Effective Life Coaching Questionnaires With Bonsai

Now that you know the type of questions that will help you lead a successful coaching session, you can start implementing them into your regular interactions with clients. But not only that, you can also explore other options to not only discover this essential information as well as keep track of it for future references.

Bonsai offers you a great tool to create online questionnaires and client intake forms so you can get the answers you need to structure a better coaching program ahead of time. Our templates offer fully-customizable fields and you can add your own branding elements and tailor your forms to fit into your type of coaching (business, life and executive coaches welcome). We help you create unique documents that add value to your business.

Try Bonsai's task management, tax, proposal, invoice and contract template tools at no cost here.
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