April 16, 2011

"Only the third time these questions are asked you can really answer them"

One part of our solution-focused coaching course is that a live client gets interviewed by several participants. This live client does not play a role but comes with an actual problem or wish. As trainers we interview the live client afterwards and ask him or her two questions: 1) from your perspective, what would you say the coach did that worked? and 2) what suggestions do you have for the coach?

Yesterday, there was a live client who made an interesting remark about what one of the coaches had done that had worked: “The coach was very tenacious. When I had not answered the question completely he repeated his question; sometimes in the same words, sometimes in slightly different words.” When we asked this live client how this had helped she said: "Those questions are quite hard so it helps when they are asked several times. Only the third time these questions are asked you can really answer them.”


  1. Tenacious has a nice ring to it when expressed in terms of solution focus. For example, sometimes we have to be tenacious - like a detective - in trying to help the client incriminate themselves with success.

  2. Hi Alan.

    Right! Here is what Insoo Kim Berg once said:

    "Where does my tenacity and ability to hang in there like a pit bull with a bone come from? It is because of the belief in people, that is, this absolute belief in people that if they have survived this far in their lives, they surely know how to go a little further. Most clients have abilities but they do not believe they do. Therefore, if you do not see it, it is easy to become discouraged.”


  3. That's an interesting observation. When I train other career practitioners, I observe them giving up on a potentially useful line of questioning when the client has difficulty answering. I try to get them to realise that the client's inability to answer is important information. The reasons for their inability to answer are likely to be worth exploring. The focus then becomes helping the client to move to a position where they can answer the question.

  4. I love this post! One of the main things I try to do when training is inspire the participants to be very curious - to keep asking, and give the client time to consider the question from different angles. Once you are clear that this is useful to the client, then you have the confidence to do this in a conversational and non-confronting way.


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