5 coaching questions to get unstuck

‘What if they are stuck and expect me to given them the answer?’ is a question I am often asked when I train leaders in coaching skills.

Your role is to resist the temptation to provide answers today, or you will be expected to do so again tomorrow. More importantly, your colleagues will be much more committed to solutions they have developed themselves.

Here are five coaching questions you can use to help someone else get unstuck. Of course you can use these questions on yourself too.

  • What would you do if you could start from scratch today?

Sometimes a person’s fixation on what they believe they can’t do keeps them stuck. This question imagines they could start again with a clean slate, and often that’s enough to get the ideas flowing.

  • If you did know the answer, what would it be?

Use this one after they say they have no more ideas. You may think it sounds like an annoying question! Used in context it’s remarkably powerful as it pre-supposes they do know the answer, and sets up a search to find it.

  • What is the next question I need to ask you right now?

If you don’t know where to go next (even after almost ten years of coaching this still happens to me occasionally) this question is a good one. While the answer might not be obvious, often the person will know the question leading to their answer.

  • What do you think I am going to advise you to do?

Useful when your stuck person is used to you generating the solutions. They probably have an idea of what you would suggest. This question provides an ‘as-if’ frame, in this case asking them to ‘act as if’ they were you. Another as-if variation is ‘What would <the CEO/your client/the artistic director> advise you to do?’.

  • What would you tell me to do if I was in your situation?

One of my favourites! With less attachment to the issues, other people’s problems are much easier to solve than our own. Restate the problem as if it was yours before asking what you should do. ‘So imagine now that the roles are reversed and I need your help. My problem is … The situation is complicated by… I have already tried … What would you advise me to do?’

The art of great coaching is great questions. What question will you try today?

I would love to know what questions you use to help people get unstuck. Please leave your comments below.

Have an Extraordinary day