Open Ended Questions

The coaching process is an iterative one, requiring careful listening and thoughtful questions. As you go through each iteration with another person, different questions may come to mind based on what you hear and where the other person wants to go. The secret is to ask open-ended questions, not close-ended ones. Open-ended questions show respect for the other person as you want to hear what THEY have to say. Open-ended questions require full answers involving both knowledge and feelings. You want to hear what the other person is thinking and feeling.

Below is a list of open-ended questions to help you get started. The questions come from the book Co-active Coaching by Sandahl and Whitworth, Boston and London: Kimsey-House, Nicholas Brealey Publishing 2011). Add these to your favorite ones like “What would it look like?”

Try to avoid close-ended questions where the answer is “Yes” of “No”, “Either / Or”, “multiple choice”. These questions limit the conversation and restrict the thinking process.

You can download the questions here.