7. Group Coaching: Sample Questions by Janet Ratniewski, M.S.


Questions are used to facilitate the Group Coaching session. The flow of questions begins after a group member introduces their issue. Open-ended questions are preferred, and choice of questions depends on the intent, the context, and the individual.

Facilitators guide, teach, and role model effective questioning, and remind participants of the types of questions they are asking. For example, when group members use questions as a way to indirectly give advice, facilitators might urge: “How can you ask that question another way?”

The skill of asking questions to enable the participant to re-frame the issue, learn, and take action is the key ingredient of Group Coaching. New participants struggle to avoid giving advice and opinions.

Here are some question types along with examples:

1. Open-ended questions (preferred):
a. How was that strategy useful?
b. How was the strategy not useful?

2. Closed-ended questions (used for specific purposes since they can limit dialogue):
a. Was that strategy useful?

3. Clarifying questions (to increase understanding):
a. What does that mean?
b. Could you be more specific?
c. What needs addressing? What is happening? What are your concerns?
d. Who is involved? Who are key stakeholders?
e. How would an objective observer describe this situation?

4. Probing questions (to expand perspective):
a. Why do you think this is the case?
b. What are your options for solving the problem?
c. Is there an option that you have not yet considered?
d. How have you managed to put up with the situation to date?
e. What do you care most about in this situation?

5. Checking/paraphrasing questions:
a. I’m hearing you say __________; am I understanding this correctly?

6. Questions about affect:
a. What was that like for you?
b. How does it feel to hear that?

7. Questions to address roadblocks and build motivation:
a. What’s preventing you from solving this problem?
b. How would you approach this issue in an ideal world?
c. If you had a magic wand, what would you do?

8. Action-oriented questions (to delineate and create action)
a. What are the first steps you will take?
b. What additional steps will you take and when will you take them?
c. What will you do to sustain this solution in the long-term?
d. How will you know you have solved the problem?

9. Reflective questions (to address learning):
a. What has changed since we started group coaching?
b. What did we learn?
c. What aspects of this process did you find most helpful?
d. What aspects of the process were not helpful?

Some common pitfalls to avoid in asking questions during Group Coaching include:

·Asking leading questions
·Asking too many close-ended questions
·Failing to ask sufficient follow-up, probing questions
·Asking questions with the purpose of appearing intelligent rather than out of curiosity or for the benefit of the participant/group
·Imposing one’s values and beliefs on others
·Giving advice or judgmental opinions

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