Evoking Awareness in a Coaching Session


Feb 23, 2023

When you think of ‘evoking awareness’ what comes to your mind? According to ICF’s core competencies, evoking awareness is defined as facilitating client insight and learning through tools and techniques. In this blog, we will explore what these could look like in a coaching session and how a coach can best leverage the tools of powerful questioning and metaphors to evoke awareness in a client.

Before we get into learning how to facilitate this process, let’s pause and ask ourselves why it is so important to evoke awareness. The answer seems pretty simple right? A way to help the client to draw the missing pieces of the puzzle and move ahead with clarity. And in this lies a deeper reason why coaching exists – creating space for an individual to look within and learn that they already have all the answers that they are looking for. How empowering is that?

Well, with that in mind, let’s dive right into understanding the different tools that can enable this process of empowerment.

Powerful Questioning

When you get started on your coaching journey, you might begin by noticing questions that have the power to create the “aha” moment for the client. Through peer coaching, I remember a peer would make a note of the powerful questions that someone would ask, as a way to remember and use these the next time she is in a coaching conversation. What are your thoughts on that? Though, on one hand I do think that these help to a degree, I do not necessarily think that the same question holds the same degree of power in another conversation. You ask why?

The question becomes powerful not because it had the right words but because the words were right in that context and allowed a moment of pausing and looking within for the client.So, how do you make sure that you ask a question that is powerful? Rule one, don’t put the pressure on yourself to ask a powerful question. Rather, listen deeply to allow for curiosity to emerge. This natural curiosity will help you to form a powerful question.

You ask what all can you be curious about? “Who” is this person – what is their way of thinking? What are their values, their beliefs? What are their needs and wants? As they share, what patterns of thinking, behavior, emotions are emerging? How do I help a client to explore that for themselves? What observations am I having and how do I share these to help the client to build a new perspective? And where is all this taking the client? Did all my questioning and observation help the client to move forward? – if yes, then you did use powerful questioning as a way to build awareness in the client.

Having said that, a few tips could only help to ensure the power you feel within gets translated in words. I remember during my coach training, my coach shared two rules that helped me to get started with the process:

  • Keep it simple: Use few crisp and clear words to form your question
  • Listen more,see more, do less: You read that right. Be present in what the client is sharing, showing, not showing, experiencing and from your end, do less, just be!

In all honesty, I did struggle a bit to form crisp, clear and simple questions. But, practice hasn’t failed many, right? In one of the sessions I attended with PCC coaches, I found a way to move forward. One of the spaces where a powerful question emerges from is “metaphor.” Let’s explore that further in the next section.


In a recent coaching conversation, a client shared that ‘she feels like an empty room.’ That is an example of a metaphor. As a coach, the moment a metaphor is shared, it is like the crack through which the light enters the darkness and illuminates the space completely. To simplify that, it is the point from where the client’s exploration of self – all that was shared earlier: the values, beliefs, thought process, and behavior patterns, begin to unearth. This allows the client to get on a journey within and begin to deepen their awareness.

So, what do you do as a coach? You give them the space to explore the metaphor at their pace. What does ‘empty room’ symbolize? ‘ It means that there is a lot of space inside me that can be filled but I don’t know where to start or how to do it.’ What do you want to ‘fill the space’ with? ‘Good relationships, security, courage.’

This was a tiny snippet to show how metaphors play out once explored. Do you see how the client could define more clearly where they are and what they want through these two questions around metaphors?

If you notice, this is inter-connected with asking powerful questions. Through the exploration of the metaphor, you allow the client to explore beyond their current thinking. This could lead to new awareness and insight. It is a supportive space where one doesn’t need to form a powerful question in advance. What the client shares and your curiosity to learn, allows for a powerful question to emerge.

As we come to the close, I am reminded of a quote by Abraham Maslow, What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” In this blog, we explored powerful questioning and metaphors as tools to evoke awareness. If you try out these two tools in your coaching conversation, then do write to us at community@coacharya.com sharing with us your experience.

Kiwa S
Kiwa S


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