Coaches often ask me to relate what I think is the most powerful coaching question to ask a client. Now the question itself seems like an anomaly to me since there couldn’t be just one question which would be powerful for all clients - or could there? And what if there were, what would it be? (You can almost hear my inner coach jumping up and down with my own limiting belief here!)

So I decided to ponder on this a little more. On reflection I began to realise that at the very heart of this question lies an age old issue which many of us at least try to attempt at some point in our careers as coaches: that is to be in control of our own thinking, moment to moment; to be present with our clients whilst also being present with ourselves; to be present and know intuitively what the most powerful question would be in response to our clients comments. Now wouldn’t that be great?

So I started to consider many questions which over the course of my coaching career have had a powerful effect on clients, in many different circumstances and for many different reasons. Here are some that I remember:

What do you want to believe about this?
What would you like to believe about yourself?
How much worse does it need to get before you do something about it?
What would you want NOT to be afraid of?
What is the question you would least like to be asked right now?
What is the next question I should ask you right now?
What would others feel least comfortable about telling you?
What have you done today to make your dream a reality?
What are you not telling (me, yourself, whoever)?
What are the risks to you being successful?
Where do you get your energy from?
How do you feel (an emotion) - how do you know?

Obviously without the context - they seem a little lost. You see within the coaching conversation, context is everything, as is your client. Everyone and every context is different which is why as a coach it is your job to be the mirror for your client, the empty vessel which creates a soft place for them to land with their thoughts or the challenge that they need to stimulate them into action. Each client needs different approaches at different times too. To be a great coach you do not need to cultivate your own coaching style and then stick to it, you need to develop a flexibility of style in response to your client, right there in the moment. Which is why I would advocate a flexibility of questions for your toolkit.

I have certainly realized that often the most powerful things to do as a coach is to invite in silence. This can often startle clients into responding to the absence of a question, often rushing in to fill the silence with more words, which in itself can lead to interesting conversations.
However, to return to the original issue - if pushed my most powerful question would probably be a one word response, offered at different times in different tones and inflection. Do you want to know what it is? Well, my most powerful question (right now at least) is “Really?” :)

Author's Bio: 

Jayne Warrilow is CEO of three international brands:
1. Max Executive Coaching, a collaborative coaching company working with senior executives across the globe. She is particularly sought out for her insights on fully engaged leadership and harnessing the energy of the organization
2. Resonant Coach, specializing in advanced level training for coaches leading them into resonance, to the next level of mastery and beyond
3. SoulEnergie, a private client brand enabling individuals to unleash the power of their energy to design their lives and businesses as an expression of their energetic flow.

Working internationally, Jayne has gained a reputation for exceptional coaching; combining a flair for strategic thinking with a passion for harnessing the client's own intuitive power. Her unique skills have brought the transformational power of energy into the C-Suites of leading global corporations impacting not only the individuals, but also the energetic flow of business through the organization. As author of An Energy Awakening, she is passionate about using energy to drive change. As a highly sought after speaker she enjoys guiding individuals towards their learning edge, to step into energetic awareness so they can shift themselves, their clients and their business into alignment and flow.