Ask Open-Ended Questions

Positive change and insights occur within the context of what/how questions. 85% of open-ended coaching questions begin with “What…” and “How…” – e.g., “What does accomplishing that feel like? How does that feel? What needs to be done differently? How can you change it? What do you have to do? What gets in the way? What makes you feel uncomfortable? When will you start doing that?” These questions help the coachee to dig deeper, consider new possibilities, and see beyond preconceived roadblocks.

Any question answered by “yes” or “no” is a closed end question and may narrow the scope of the conversation. When a conversation has the starts and stops of closed end questions a coachee may be more guarded. Also, use “Why…” questions sparingly, as they may cause people to feel defensive. Pay attention to the tone of your questions to avoid sounding judgmental. Sincerely acknowledge the progress of the coachee.

Written by: Ron Hirasawa

About the Author

Ron Hirasawa
Vice President & Executive Coach, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.

As a seasoned Executive Coach with large cap, small cap, and start-up company management experience, Ron Hirasawa fosters effective client interpersonal skill-building and team leadership skills. He commits 100% to his clients’ success in achieving strategic organizational goals. Read Full Bio


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