Opening the space for a to stop, reflect, and then respond can unveil bonus information—new possibilities may appear. It’s a good thing.
Michaleen (Micki) Lewis, MS, PCC,
What Does High Impact Mean?
Relationship coaching offers insights into broader issues. Clients see with new eyes where they were stuck or how they created a problematic situation. To dive deeper requires questions that have a high impact…and elicit the ah-ha that the client needs to know.
According to ‘s Dictionary, high impact means…
–impressive, bold, compelling, effective; punchy; forceful, powerful, high-powered, potent, hard-hitting; intensive, energetic, dynamic
High impact questions make a person think more deeply about an issue.
Closed-ended questions result in a yes or no and often don’t get any deeper than that.
Open-ended questions can solve problems, and they may also generate a list of options or ideas.
High impact questions get the client out of a set way of thinking. When a relationship coach uses a high impact questions, it focuses the client in the present, the here and now. You present problems to a client with an urgency that leads them to take action.
The Elements of a High Impact Question
The elements that lend impact to a question are:
- It’s direct and straightforward, dealing in reality instead of speculation
- It encourages creative thinking and thinking at a deeper level
- It promotes self-reflection
High impact questions move a client closer to attaining a goal or solving a problem. Your client gets things done by dealing not in ‘why,’ but in ‘what’ and ‘how.’
Which One Do You Choose?
You can take any question and turn it into a high impact question by wording it differently. Imagine, for example, if you’d like to ask your client, ‘What tasks would you like to outsource in your business?’ An alternative high impact question that asks essentially the same thing would be, ‘If you could pick just one task to outsource in your business today, what would it be?’
In the original question, you’re asking something in the realm of imagination and ideas. The ‘would like’ of the question places it in the abstract. What you’re doing with the second question is asking them to make a clear decision – which one would they outsource? You also put a time marker on it by asking them which they’d choose today. It becomes more urgent and real, and the answer leads directly to an action step – outsourcing that task. Such a priority question is used for to get valid answers. The right wording forces a person to choose one top priority, and that’s the first step of taking action when you have many options.
Here’s another example. Instead of asking your client, ‘What would you like to be doing in ten years?’ ask them instead, ‘Imagine that it’s ten years from now. What do your life and business look like on a day to day basis?’ Even though we’re using our imagination and picturing the future, you make it more real and immediate by saying ‘what does it look like,’ as if you were living it right now. This is more likely to produce answers that are clear and specific. Instead of saying, ‘I’d be happy and successful,’ they may say something like, ‘I don’t spend any time creating my own content because I have a writer who does that.’ They’ve just defined a goal – finding and hiring a good writer for their content creation.
Part 2 – Listening
Turning regular questions into high impact questions that elicit clear actionable answers is only the first step. As a coach, you also need to listen to their response carefully and use it to guide them toward action steps. The whole point of high impact questions is to get them into the zone of thinking more deeply about their problems and challenges.
Here is a free coaching tool which provides a relationship coach and client worksheet as well as a list of high impact questions to give you examples of focusing your client’s breakthrough.