This is a brief post on the power & art of asking good questions, especially during coaching or development conversations. In this post we introduce the concept at a high level & share resources to help you learn more if you're interested.


The power of asking questions, especially good questions has been established in behavioural science since decades. In the cult classic How to win friends & influence people, Dale Carnegie said “Be a good listener & ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.” That was in 1936! And nearly a hundred years later, people still don't ask enough questions. The reasons can be many - apathy, egocentricity, insecurity, busy-ness and so many more. But as Alison Wood Brooks writes in this article, "The biggest inhibitor is that most people just don’t understand how beneficial good questioning can be. If they did, they would end far fewer sentences with a period—and more with a question mark."

Several studies have proven that asking the right questions leads to better quality conversations  and in turn, better relationships & deeper learning. Of course the type, tone, sequence, and framing of questions also matter, but all those are learnable skills.

Besides being an amplifying life skill, being able to ask good questions is crucial in a cultivation culture. If you are mentoring or coaching someone, it's one of the core skills that will help you unlock your coachee / mentee's potential, create clarity, enable self discovery & generate meaningful options for action. So it's worth investing in learning the art of asking powerful questions.

Learn more

I. List - 37 coaching questions for all phases of coaching

Download this free list of questions to use as a reference for any phase of coaching or mentoring. Start here if you're new to coaching.

II. Article - Six types of questions in coaching

This article is a good practical resource for understanding what types of questions should be used for different types of goals during coaching. It covers the following:

  1. Circular questioning: What would your client say?
  2. Scale questions: On a scale of 1 to 10 questions
  3. Hypothetical questions: What if questions
  4. Miracle question (Magical question)
  5. Paradox questions: What could you do not to win any clients?
  6. Solution-focused questions: What needs to happen to make your coaching even more successful?
  7. Conclusion: Powerful Coaching Questions – How and when to use them

III. Ebook - 549 powerful coaching questions

This free e-book has an extensive list of questions you can ask for every phase phase of coaching. If you've been coaching formally or informally for a little while and want to elevate your questioning skills, this is a good resource.

IV. Ebook- The art of powerful questions

This 16 page free volume by David Isaacs, Eric E. Vogt & Juanita Brown  provides a practical framework for formulating powerful questions, a set of skills for leading "inquiring systems," and examples of companies that have created business value by improving the quality of their questions. Recommended for anyone who wants to gain a deeper theoretical understanding of the power of questions along with practical examples.

v. Article - Questions good coaches ask

This HBR article is a light & practical read to understand what types of questions you should ask in coaching conversations.

Use these resources for planning your mentoring or coaching conversations or just keep them handy for reference during your conversations as well.

Cover Image Credit: Evan Dennis on Unsplash

Thomas Berger quote visual: Chitra, Our Culture Cafe

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