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Coach the Person, Not the Problem

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Coach the Person, Not the Problem

A Guide to Using Reflective Inquiry


15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

As a coach, you can use reflective inquiry to create a thinking partnership with your client.

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  • Applicable
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Marcia Reynolds promises the key to transformational coaching: being fully present. She teaches readers to focus on individuals rather than their problems to draw out your clients’ true feelings and get to the root of their concerns. Packed with easy-to-grasp tips and case studies, Reynold’s book includes the five techniques of reflective inquiry. Find out how to use thinking partnerships to expand your clients’ perspectives and help them gain the power and confidence to move forward.


Successful coaching techniques focus on inquiry, not merely on asking questions.

Acknowledging the differences between inquiry and questioning differentiates good coaches from great ones. Many coaches learn to ask specific questions, quite like following a checklist. However, this approach takes focus away from the client’s responses. Effective coaching seeks to spur reflection rather than to provide solutions to a particular problem. To become your client’s “thinking partner,” use reflective inquiry: Pair statements which spark reflective thinking with questions.

When coaches use a series of questions with clients who come to them with specific problems, the questions direct the client to a solution for that particular problem, yet underlying issues often remain. Reflective inquiry, by contrast, helps clients understand the beliefs and fears that shape their choices. Reflective inquiry also allows people to reframe their initial problem and place it in a larger context.

True coaching creates a thinking partnership between the coach and the client. This partnership helps clients shift their perspective to see what their...

About the Author

Marcia Reynolds, PsyD, helps coaches and leaders work with clients to create transformative conversations. She has provided coaching and training in 41 countries, and Global Gurus named her as one of the world's top five coaches.  

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