Sometimes in August 2020, someone (Let’s call this person Jay) jumped into my inbox on twitter.

Jay said, “Good morning Mr. Damilola. I don’t know if you’re chanced to listen to what I have to say, there’s this issue I’ve been thinking about for some weeks now. It’s about my passion, academics and ‘upholding the family legacy, I’d like us to have a somewhat interactive conversation

When reading this text, my advice mindset kicked first, ‘This will be a great opportunity to talk to him about his challenge and help him solve it”

When I paused for a while, my coaching mindset came in later and it says, ‘Not so fast, you don’t even know the circumstances of this person, how do you feel you already have an answer?’

As I think back to this Coaching Session about Asking Powerful Questions, it dawned on me that as a Coach, I have an important role to listen (interestingly, the message above shows that the person was looking for someone that listens).

When we eventually had the call the next day, this ‘asking powerful question’ session became real – people love it when you ask them about their life, their work, their health, what they are thinking and what they are trying to achieve.

People want to have conversations – not monologue. They want to speak, they want to be listened to and they desire to share, as we ask them empowering questions.

Insert quote – The power to question is the basis of all human progress. Indra Gandhi. (First female India prime minister).

“As a Catalyst Coach, the purpose is to help Coachees uncover their potential by asking them powerful questions that will ignite their inner thoughts, feelings, voices and allow new level of self discovery, understanding and commitment towards taking the right action steps forward.” – Coach Mel.

Powerful questions will help the coachee to extend their thinking, helping to think through things they weren’t considering and areas they didn’t think about.

Asking about people’s needs wants and belief, values and so on will evoke awareness. It should help to invite the coachee to share what is happening at the moment.

Reasons for powerful questions are:

– To know where a client is (happiness or sadness)

– Establish Direction for the client (clarity, timeframe)

– It solves something or achieves something (Problem, outcome)

– Encourage self discovery (motivation)

– Enhance creativity and more reflection (break out or in).

– To seek for Depth (what can you start with now) and Breadth (what do you see yourself in 5 years).

Below are some powerful questions shared during the coaching session.

Question 1: What do you like about yourself or what to you like or dislike about yourself?

When to use it in a coaching session: to get the coachee’s perceptions about themselves.

A powerful question that can follow up on this can be – When did you decide (about that about yourself) that you have nothing you like about yourself?

On my call with Jay, I asked, ‘what do you like about your course of studies, what do you hate about the family’s business?

Question 2:  What if your problem has gone away, what do you think must have changed? Or do differently?

When to use it in a coaching session: Use this to expand the Coachee’s mind. Make them reflect on how things will look life if all the challenges no longer exist. Put their imagination at work.

Question 3: What is stopping you?

When to use it in a coaching session:  This is very punchy! You can use it to break mindblocks.  Note that, there is a relationship prerequisite before this question is asked. Trust must have been built before you ask people this kind of question.

Question 4: What do you mean when you say?

When to use it in a coaching session:  It shows a sense of curiosity, and a desire to understand what they are trying to say. It is a clarifying question. How you ask this question matters a lot.

It can be asked as “What are you really saying? What are you thinking about?” How does that make you feel when you say that?

I asked a similar Question on the call with Jay, “What do you mean, when you said your Dad is successful?” The answer Jay gave to this question helped both of us to realize that there is a level of success in their home, that Jay can’t underplay – the higher, the better.

Question 5

A – If you knew you would definitely succeed, what will you do?

B – What could you do if you could not fail?

When to use it in a coaching session:  There is a difference between the two question above – the first one shows that the coachee may be goal oriented while the second one can tell that the Coachee tend towards problem solving.

Question 6: What do you forsee if you do this?

When to use it in a coaching session: Help the Coachee to imagine, think through or express their inner convictions about something.

Question 7: Can I ask, why you feel that way? In 5 years, how do you want your life to be?

When to use it in a coaching session:  It help to get the Coachee to imagine, to make a mental note of their desire for the future.

Question 8: What is your personal mission statement? What is your personal vision for your life?

When to use it in a coaching session:   It helps to see a Coachee’s motivation and drive in life, to see a general overview of their life mission.

Question 9: What kind of _____ is that ____? An example is; what kind of happiness are you feeling?

When to use it in a coaching session:  we experience life and things at different magnitudes. This questions helps knows the extent of a feeling or beahaviour.

Question 10: What makes you think so? Say instead, “What’s on your mind?” and “What clarity are you seeking?”

When to use it in a coaching session:  Everyone is looking for some form of clarity in their mind. There are loads of thoughts running through their mind, and the ability to focus on specific things.

Question 11: What should (sounds like already solved) we do? Ask instead, what could (from our abilities) we do?

My takeaway from the session:

The language of the question makes a great difference. At Prikkle Academy, we changed the common question of the development sector – ‘what is wrong and what do you lack in your community?’ to ‘what is strong and what do you have in your community?’

This change has help us make the people rethink development as not being done to them, but being created by themselves.

The tone of the question and the relationships that have been developed with the Coachee are also things to consider when asking questions from the Coachee.