Why Coaches Ask Questions Rather Than Tell You What to Do

There is a very good  reason why coaches ask questions rather than tell you what to do. Coaches don’t want to fix you or create a clone of themselves, they want to empower you so that you can do it on your own the next time.

ask questions, don't tell what to do
Being told to do something puts you into a defensive mode rather than a receptive mode and affects your brain differently than when you are asked a question.

Telling Mode

  • Telling implies that you are ordered to do something and how to do it. The element of choice is removed. You are not allowed to think independently or use your skills, talents and experiences to come up with a solution.
  • Being told what to do often leads to resistance, is anxiety provoking and does not lead to a long-term change or different result the next time when faced the same situation again.
  • Your brain stores the information you are told in your working memory, which is only a temporary information storage system. In computer terms, the information is simple stored in a temp file folder. Nothing gets done with it. You brain likes to keep things neat and tidy and so quickly moves the information to an unlabeled storage folder in the brain. This makes it much harder to find the information in the future and it can be quickly forgotten. In computer terms, it does not get put into a labeled file folder for easy retrieval when searched as there are no keywords associated with it.

Question Mode

  • Asking questions offers a way to see different options, especially for problem solving.
  • Questions affect your brain differently. The literally wake up your brain and get it excited. Your brain now starts immediately to search looking for the relevant keywords in its database to find the answer.
  • Your brain is having fun working on the puzzle the question created and does its best to assist you.
  • You and your brain are now active participants in finding a solution and like a Google search, will come up with several answers/results, from which you now pick the most relevant answer to the posed question.
  • Just like with Google, if you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t get the right results and need to change your question.
  • The results you get will also help you understand what you don’t know.

Asking questions is not just for coaches, it can be used in many different situations. You can ask yourself a question before you start a task or when you hire somebody to do work for you.

The picture in your head of how something should be done might not always correspond  to the way you thought the task could be accomplished or to the other person’s idea. By asking a question, you will gain a better understanding of what and how things need to be done. As a bonus you also get another perspective as the other person’s idea of how things should be done might in fact be valid.


Do you need to help what questions to ask?
Let’s get started, I would love to assist you.

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