Essential Coach Quality: Curious

Revisiting the seven Essential Coaching Qualities

The fourth quality a coach should posses is curiosity. 

Curious

1. A coach asks powerful questions designed to elicit a deeper awareness; explore a client’s current assumptions, ideas, and emotions; and look toward the future.

Curiosity comes from the Latin word cura, which means to care, ask about. Combined with listening empathetically from the client’s perspective, curiosity is a way of deeply caring for someone else. Such listening and asking questions is a gift that allows a client to explore more of themselves and what is truly most important in their lives. Curiosity shows up more clearly in the structure and topics of the questions a coach asks. The most effective structure is termed a Powerful Question. Powerful Questions are short (ten words or fewer), and start with open-ended question words such as What, Why, and How. The other aspect of Powerful Questions is the quality and range of a coach’s curiosity to include a balance of Learning, Being, and Doing questions, covering both a client’s agency and possible pathways.

2. A coach continues to ask meaningful questions that help clients go beyond current understanding, transforming judgement into curiosity, and helping clients clarify and define new insights and ideas.

This skill shows up most clearly when the coach elicits deeper ideas and emotions by simply staying curious. When a coach stays in curiosity, keeps asking questions, and finds a deeper agenda for the client, clients are on a journey with a completely new territory of thought and emotion. The probability of stumbling upon new and meaningful insights skyrockets. One such opportunity is at the beginning of each coaching session when setting the session agenda. When exploring the importance of a surface agenda, there is often an opportunity to look at another, more fundamental agenda that would have an impact on the current challenge, as well as on many other areas in a client’s life. A skilled coach is able to listen for opportunities to ask questions that change a client’s perspective or perhaps uncover and challenge limiting beliefs. The job of the coach is to listen from the perspective of the client to such a degree that the client feels self-judgement transformed to curiosity and progress.

Additional skill-check questions:

Does the agenda come mostly from the client, or is the coach pushing or not identifying the client’s agenda?

After the agenda is clear, does the coach explore and allow the client to dig deeper by making more connections to other areas of a client’s life or the meaning behind the agenda?

Is the session agenda measurable?

Does the coach repeat the agenda and confirm the client’s agreement on the agenda for extra clarity? 

Suggested coaching questions:

What would you like to focus on today?

What outcome would make the time we have together worth it?

Just to be clear, in this session you would like to focus on [what the client just said] and come away with [two new tools] to use for this next week?

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