10 of My All-Time Best Coaching Questions & Why!

Guest Post by Emma-Louise Elsey, professional life coach and founder of The Coaching Tools Company.com. Originally posted @ TheCoachingToolsCompany.com  Posted here with permission from “The Launchpad” newsletter and blog – for people who love coaching. For more helpful articles for coaches, coaching tips, free resources please visit: The Coaching Tools Company 

I LOVE questions – they’re the cornerstone of great coaching. People are often looking for the best coaching questions to ask, but it’s not just the questions themselves—it’s about asking the right question at the right time in the right way. And that’s a whole other topic!

Great questions however, become a part of our toolkit—with the best coaching questions selected for the right occasion. Below I share 10 (with a few bonuses) of my all-time favourite coaching questions, plus when I use them.

I’d also love to hear some of your best coaching questions—just comment below with yours!

Here are 10 of my All-time Best Coaching Questions!

  1. What would you like to have achieved by the end of this session?
    I ask this (or a version of it) at the beginning of EVERY coaching session. This way both the client and I are clear on what we’re working on – which keeps us on track, and makes sure the client feels like they are getting great value from the coaching!
  2. What’s MISSING in your life right now?
    This question is deceptively simple – and powerful. We are all so busy these days, keeping it all together… This question often points to unmet needs – and can become a powerful lesson, as we help our clients learn to take responsibility for meeting their own needs…
    TIP: I also love the questions, “What would you like MORE of in your life?” followed by “What would you like LESS of?”
  3. If you could change just ONE thing right now, what would it be?
    Use when a client feels overwhelmed, or is unable to pick a topic or get focused.
  4. How SPECIFICALLY will you know you’ve completed that action/goal?
    It may sound like a dull question, but a lack of clarity is the MAIN reason people don’t complete their actions (and goals!). Instead help your clients learn to get specific! Because when we’re super clear it’s easier to get started on actions, see our progress (which feels great) and know when to celebrate!
  5. What’s the FIRST (or easiest) step you could take?
    Use when dealing with big goals, when a client feels overwhelmed or is getting drowned in details or worrying about the amount of work their goal entails.
    TIP: I usually add “within the next week/month” or “tomorrow” depending on the goal/client.
  6. What do you NOT want me to ask you?
    Your clients answer to this questions points to an area they are avoiding. Bringing this into the light and tackling it is almost always a powerful moment in our coaching relationship.
    TIP: Ask this playfully!
  7. How does that serve you?
    As well as looking straight at self-sabotaging behaviour, this question can also be a great lead-in to looking at why they might be sabotaging themselves. People often sabotage when they haven’t fully acknowledged the scary parts of changing, or the benefits of NOT changing. In coaching we call this the client’s “secondary gain”.
    TIP: Another question to ask is “What is the benefit of staying just as/where you are?”
  8. How will you CELEBRATE that?
    I don’t just ask this about big goals, but also after a challenging action is completed. Celebration is often missed, skipped or rushed over as we move onto the next thing. But without acknowledgement our lives can easily become “one darned thing after another”.
  9. What’s wrong with how you are RIGHT NOW? And where are you ALREADY Awesome?
    I ask this when clients get fixated on things being better/different at some point in the future (when they’ve achieved X/Y) instead of valuing themselves as they are, NOW.
    TIP: Ask this question gently and earnestly. If you like you can add what you see as their coach, “Because I see a beautiful woman inside and out who cares deeply about X and Y.”
  10. What was your biggest win of the session today?
    I ask this at the end of EVERY coaching session. It helps the client think about the benefits of coaching, to see where they are learning and growing—and what matters to them. As well as getting to know what matters most to my clients, this question has also helped me really understand why people come to coaching as I see themes across clients over the years.

What are your all-time best coaching questions? Comment below with yours!

Emma-Louise Elsey


Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She’s passionate about coaching and personal development, and combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools.



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