Mark Twain once said,“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
Can I get an amen to that?
We all know that starting is important.
But we also know that getting started isn’t always easy. It can be rough.
As an author sits and looks at a blank screen, that first sentence can be the toughest one to write.
When a bashful teenager approaches the girl of his dreams, that first sentence can be almost impossible to get out!
When we commit to getting into shape, that first step into the gym can be the most difficult to take.
But… starting is critical.
This is true for everyone, but it’s especially true for coaches.
It’s funny. Since I’ve been training up life and business coaches since 2008, one of the most common questions I get from new and experienced coaches alike is,
“So, how do you start a coaching conversation?”
It’s almost as if they’re the writer waiting for that perfect first sentence. They’re a coach waiting for the perfect first question to ask.
This is especially true when it comes to the first conversation they have with a new coaching “ally” (our word for client).
But hey, it can make sense that a coach would feel a sense of pressure. Those first questions are important. They set a tone. They open up possibilities. They can help to lay a foundation of trust.
That’s why it’s so important to have some key “starter questions” at your finger tips.
These are key questions you can lean on. They are your “go-to” questions when you’re kicking things off. These are core questions that will help you to move a friendly conversation into a true life coaching conversation.
In fact, I’ll offer you a few “Starter Questions” that we provide participants in our “Coach Mindset – Elite Life Coach Training.”
Here are a few examples of some favorite “Starter Questions” that I also use in my own coaching practice weekly.
“If you were able to focus on something for 3 to 6 months, what might you want to work on?”
I like this question for a number of reasons. 1.) It gets the ally thinking about what it would be like to work on something for 3 to 6 months. That’s healthy because it gives them a broader perspective and it doesn’t force them into the “quick fix” mindset. Plus, it’s helpful because I offer coaching packages that are 3 to 6 months long. So that helps me to get a perspective on the types of things we could and should work on. And it naturally sets up a conversation about working together later in the call.
Another favorite is:
“What’s something you’d love to try over the next 3 to 6 months?”
Along the same lines as the first example, this tends to get them thinking bigger. At the same time, it offers up some boundaries that can help you and your ally to land on some tangible goals and dreams they would want to go after in the here and now. Sure, you could ask them about what they’d love to do or achieve in a year or in 5 years. But in today’s culture, I find that the “1 year” and especially the “5 year” question can be a little overwhelming. So I save those longer timeline topics for some specific exercises I take them through as we would decide to work together for 3 to 6 months.
Lastly, as crazy as it might seem for it’s simplicity, another favorite is:
“So, why are we talking today?”
I know. I know. That’s almost too simple. But I’ve found that it can spark some great conversations, especially for a complimentary call. (A complimentary call is an initial coaching conversation that you set up to learn more about the potential ally and so they can learn more about you as their coach.) That’s because as a coach, I know something has inspired them to reach out to me and schedule a conversation. So I know that something is top of mind. Maybe it’s a challenge at work. Maybe it’s a major milestone in life that’s got them thinking. Maybe it’s one of those dull aches that they simply want to dig into and uncover the things they’re passionate about again. But by asking such a simple question, I’ve been blown away by some of the incredible and intricate responses.
Now, are these questions wildly innovative? No. Not necessarily.
Will your allies jaw drop when you ask them? Probably not.
At the same time, asking such simple questions and then following that with intentional listening… can be truly revolutionary for your ally.
Simple questions like these can help your future coaching allies to connect with you, open up, see new possibilities and get excited. Not only that, but in the right situations, these kinds of questions can set up great conversations about working together that don’t feel like selling at all.
But most importantly, having a few “Starter Questions” like these close at hand will help you to be more confident. So you can break through that brick wall that keeps so many coaching from STARTING. Not only that but you’ll be able to kick start a powerful conversation and bless your ally’s socks off!
How about you?
What are a few of your favorite questions to start with? Or, maybe you’re new to being a life coach. If so, what are a few questions that you would love to ask your allies in the days to come? Click on comments below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you!
Keep Dreaming BIG, and helping others to do the same.