When we’re effectively coaching others toward growth in their leadership or their faith journey, we’re asking great questions and prompting deeper responses. Effective coaches draw out a person’s wisdom and call forth new possibilities. I track which questions and phrases that I use in coaching situations and note which ones seem to work particularly well. Five of my favorite growth phrases include…
1 | “TELL ME YOUR OPTIONS…”
This statement always leads to new awareness and exploration of options that have not been previously considered. A similar statement I use is, “What else have you considered?” These statements empower people to be more solution-oriented and to find ways to address their greatest challenges. We aim to move people beyond the easiest option or one that has been used in the past.
2 | “UNPACK THAT FOR ME…”
This statement, similar to “tell me more,” is great for helping others clarify plans and add more details to what they’ve been thinking about. It sheds light on their assumptions, and surfaces insights about what they’re thinking and feeling. This statement prompts the backstory behind the situations people are experiencing.
3 | “HELP ME UNDERSTAND…”
This is a good prompt to use when you’re trying to understand the intentionality behind a person’s ideas, thoughts, or actions. It will target their values and motivations. It also helps confirm whether or not you’re accurately tracking with what the person is trying to communicate.
4 | “IS THERE A REASON…”
This phrase is similar to “help me understand”—I use it to gain greater understanding of a person’s decision-making process, and their criteria for selecting one option over another. It’s less confrontational and adversarial than directly questioning a person’s logic or choices.
5 | “WHAT’S YOUR GUT TELLING YOU…”
This prompt invites people to tap into their feelings and see situations from new perspectives. It helps them name what angers or energizes them, what brings them joy or delight. It helps them validate what they’re yearning for in life and ministry, yet can’t adequately describe from a rational perspective.
Jim LaDoux is the longtime Director of Coaching Services for Vibrant Faith. Jim lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife—he has two adult sons. He’s been a coach since 1992, and has a Master of Management Arts, and is a certified PCC (Professional Certified Coach).