How important is questioning in coaching? Extremely important is the answer. How does it differ from questioning in training? It is very different.

In training when you question, you question to get to an answer. You drive for the answers you want using open questions or good trainers do. You always know where you are going with your questioning. Coaching is very different; you are not always after an answer; coaches guide the conversation to see what pops up.

In coaching, when you are guiding your client, you still use open questions, and you explore the words and meanings that pop up and notice what gets triggered. There are some coaches out there still telling, pushing a client to a result based upon their own judgement, not really understanding they are doing it and why they are doing it.

Coaching is about sitting with the silences, looking for no particular answer. You can share what you are sensing and what your instinct is telling you, but there is no telling unless you ask to offer up suggestions.

Along with questioning in coaching, you have to listen more; much more effective listening is required for the guidance. If you actively listen, then sit with the silence to guide your next question, this is very different than in training. With training, you have an answer in your pocket, and then you are using questioning to get it, hence so much less listening and use of instinct. Training and coaching questioning is so very different.

A vast number of managers, leaders, and even coaches still tell or elicit as a trainer not fully understanding the effectiveness of guiding, using the silences to think about what they are noticing. Coaching questioning technique is a tremendous skill to learn but one that works and works exceptionally well when done skillfully.

Claire Moody is our head coach at Target Training, and you can read more about her here.  She delivers training on all personal development, coaching and numerous training the trainer courses.