Top 5 Transformational Questions

Transformation is often hinged to the questions we ask ourselves, others and even God in prayer.  Answers to questions bring more clarity, confidence and empathy.  Today’s article will address my top 5 transformational questions.

In coaching and counseling, behavior-focused professions et al. we focus on creating transformation in others’ lives. We know that when a client’s own discoveries bring about transformation, it will be far deeper and more lasting. This is our goal today.

During a session with a client you’ll want to ask questions that get them thinking more deeply and at the same time help you get to know them better. In order to become a team as a coach (or counselor) and client need to be, it’s crucial that you understand the client’s thinking, desires, values, fears and priorities.

Each person has the ability to solve problems. Yet often we end up fixated on matters that pull us back rather than propelling us forward.

It’s easier to reach our goal with small, consistent changes than it is to make large-scale changes. Gradual change is easier because it allows us to test the waters when we are unsure.

Sometimes all that’s needed is modifying a habit or behavior. Select one issue at a time and break the change down to small actions. Then be as consistent as possible until the first change is firmly established. Then move on to the next.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek,
and you will find; knock, and it will
be opened to you.”

~ Matthew 7:7

You often hear people say that hindsight is 20-20. We see things a lot more clearly when they become part of our past and we learn the outcome and consequences of our choices. Even though each of us has wisdom deep down inside, sometimes emotions can get the best of a person and they can act irrationally or at least not in their own best interest.

Transformational Questions focus on solutions

When all is said and done, we need to be gentle with our client and with ourselves. We are probably harder on ourselves than anyone else. We know ourselves far more intimately and we know when we have not performed at our highest level.

As a coach or counselor, you are there to support your client, hold them accountable, yet create their safe space, where they can be candid with their thoughts, fears, emotions and insecurities.

Top 5 Transformational Questions:

Below are my top 5 transformational questions you can ask your clients in discovery sessions to help you better understand them, and to help them better process their own life and circumstances.

1. What’s working well in your life right now?

2. What one change, if implemented today, would make the greatest difference in your life/situation/business?

3. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the greatest, what is your level of commitment to changing this situation?

4. What one thing, if you stopped doing it now, would have the greatest positive impact on your life/situation/business?

5. What advice about this matter, would you give yourself 20 years from now?

What other question(s) can you ask for greater clarity and confidence?




Some coaches have trouble asking exploratory, transformational questions because they fear the client will find them too intrusive or nosey. If you have any concern about how your question may be received, ask for permission to ask the question

“So I can better help you, may I ask you a question about that?”

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, 
who gives generously to all without reproach, 
and it will be given him.”
~ James 1:5 ESV

What about times when your client has an assignment to ask someone for answers they legitimately need? 

If you see your client has trouble following through with asking for what they need or want, this may help: Remind them they have the right to ask for what they legitimately need and it doesn’t matter if the needs are emotional, physical, social or anything else.

As much as your client has the right to ask, the other person has the right to respond in whatever way they choose. Your client needs to be prepared for this. It may help to roleplay this a few times with your client.

If someone underestimates their own legitimate need, they might delay asking or not ask at all. Be watchful if you see this in your client. Your job as their coach or counselor is to reinforce the importance of receiving an answer and support the client if needed, once they do receive their answer.

The bottom line is we can’t make knowledgeable, transformational decisions leading to change without all the information. Asking for and receiving answers is part of this process. We can deal with anything and plan strategies accordingly only when we know the facts.

Now it’s your turn 
Which transformational questions have led to the greatest change for your clients? Have you experienced difficulty asking questions or have you seen this in a client?  How did you handle it? Please tell us in the COMMENTS section near the bottom of this page.

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