Myth of Powerful Questions

Jun 19, 2020

  • What else? – What else from what?
  • How do you feel?  – I feel bad that’s why I am here. Can’t you hear me?
  • If you don’t know can you ask a friend who knows? – If I had such a friend why would I come to you?
  • If you had a magic wand what would you wish for? – Wow, do you have one? It would be cheaper than a coach and reusable?

There are no powerful questions. They are a myth. The reality is the power of No Mind Listening that acknowledges, observes, partners, and explores.


If I received a dollar each time coaches asked me to teach them how to ask powerful questions, I would be a multimillionaire by now. The sad truth is that there are no powerful questions that anyone can teach you despite the claims people make.

There are several powerful questions often recommended and some responses I may have if I were the client, in italics.

Sounds silly and obvious, isn’t it?

ICF has removed the competency of Powerful Questions, CC 6, from its revised 2019 version. We, at Coacharya, are truly grateful. Neither this competency nor CC 7 Direct Communication made much sense. The revised 2019 framework is truly a spectacular leap forward.

If the client needed an answer or solution or advice to her problems, the client could have gone to a mentor as onetime support. The coach’s job is to make the solution client’s own making the client independent of the coach.

Questions from a coach follow what a client communicates verbally and non- verbally to indicate where the client is in current reality in relation to where the client wishes to be. What does a client need in order to feel safe knowing she is being partnered in her exploration of awareness and action to her desired outcome?

  1. Does the coach listen to me and really listen to how I feel?
  2. Does the coach accept and appreciate me the way I am?
  3. Does the coach let me know how the coach feels?
  4. Does the coach support me in my journey to my outcome?

The coaching journey is through the heart, emotions, and energy, not brain, thoughts, and solutions. To partner the client, the coach’s responses need to:

  1. Acknowledge and appreciate the client as she is and makes the client feel listened to.
  2. Listen and observe verbal and non-verbal cues of sensations, emotions, and thoughts capturing the essence of what the client is conveying.
  3. Share and partner the client by responding with how the coach senses where the client is and feels
  4. Inquire and explore curiously and spontaneously with the context all three above as to what needs to shift in the client’s mind?

This process of ALSI is the center of Coacharya’s coaching exploration. Within this ALSI framework, we suggest that the Coach explores the client’s

  1. Sensations
  2. Emotions &
  3. Thoughts

in what we term SET, as the inquiry to establish what client reality is in relation to where the client wishes to be.

The ALSI and SET frameworks are not merely about questioning or inquiring. The framework establishes trust & safety, presence and creates awareness from the stage on an agreement to action through the process of empathetic, emotional, and energetic communication. Used effectively, all coaching competencies are fulfilled at mastery level.

We share this with our community to enhance the process of coaching. Do share with us your experiences. With shared real-time feedback we can together create higher standards of excellence.

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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