9 favorite coaching session starts and 2 really crummy ones

How do we start a coaching session? It is usually the coach who initiates the conversation by a question or an invitation to the direction the conversation might take. In our SF Masterclass, we collected a few beginnings and thought we’d share them with you.

  1. “How would you like to start the session, would you like to recap what happened since last time we spoke or would you like to jump into a topic right away?” This is the the “path of choice” — the coach does offers the client an option of how they would like to start the session.
  2. “How would you like to start our session today?” For clients who are familiar with coaching sessions, this might be a good way to start — the “path of partnering”.
  3. “What kind of coach would you like me to be today? / What kind of coaching would you like to have today?” We might call this the “path of service”. The client can choose what they need: a partner, a challenger, a listener….
  4. “What are you aware of in this moment? / What is stirring in your heart and mind right now?” Maybe we could call this “the path of mindfulness”? A question to create a pause for reflection.
  5. “Which topic would you like to explore?” The “path of exploration” — the assumption is that the client has a topic and that he/she would like to explore it (and not “solve”, “achieve” etc.). It is a very broad exploration which leaves a lot of choice about the direction of the coaching to the client.
  6. “How can this session serve your greatness?” There are a lot of assumptions in this question: the client is great, serving the greatness is something attractive, the session can serve greatness etc. From a Solution Focused perspective these are a bit too many (as we aspire to have as little as possible). From a general coaching perspective, you might call this “the path of ambition” — by using words like “greatness”, the coach is inviting the client to dream / think / envision what he/she wants in bolder terms.
  7. “What is the change that you want in your life?” This question also has some assumptions: that the client wants to change something in their life. However, this is quite a reasonable one, as most probably people are engaging in coaching who want something to change. By adding “in your life” the coach is also inviting the client to think in broader terms and not simply about one issue. Let’s call this the “path of change”
  8. “What would you like to achieve?” The question makes clear that it is the client who would like to achieve something and the client who does the achieving (not the coach). We might call this “the path of accountability”. The client is invited to think about his/her desire for achieving something.
  9. “What are your best hopes from this session?” The classic Solution Focused question — “the path of the future”. The client is invited to think about what the session should lead to in their lives. I must admit, I still like this one a lot.”
  10. “What is getting in the way of your greatness at this point”? This is my second to least favorite one. It presumes that there is an obstacle, that in order to reach “greatness” the client needs to overcome something. It is past oriented, problem oriented and invites the client to tell a story of being hindered. It does not invite accountability, agency, hope, etc. “The path of the obstacle”
  11. “What is the problem / issue / challenge?” Tada: my least favorite one. “The path of the problem”. We invite the client to describe what is not wanted rather than what is wanted: a past and deficit oriented, explanation oriented questions. As Solution Focused practitioner, I strive for the opposite: future, resource and progress oriented questions.

If you would like to explore these and more questions with us, join us for a free coaching meetup and exchange:

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