Book Name

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier



One Line Summary

7 questions to change your coaching skills forever

The Setup

As I mentioned in my review of The Prosperous Coach, I’m going to start coaching clients one on one soon. Part of what I’ve done to prepare for this is seek out the best coaching material available to learn from.

As it turns out, coaching is simple and often easy. But just like a plumber who charges $500 to turn one knob, coaching is all about knowing what knob to turn.

In the world of coaching, the knobs are questions. Prior to contrary belief, it’s not about me just telling you what to do. That’s an ineffective way to coach.

So in this book, The Coaching Habit by Michael Stanier, he talks about the seven most important questions a coach can ask. An easy introduction to the world of coaching.

Why it’s Awesome

Unlike other books I’ve seen relating to coaching questions, this book does not overwhelm with trying to give you every possible question a coach could ever need. Instead, it strips the process to the bare essentials.

According to Stanier, these are the most important questions you could ever ask. And you’d do well to ask them in every session.

So what are the seven questions? Here’s the quick list:

  • What’s on your mind?
  • And what else?
  • What’s the real challenge here for you?
  • What do you want?
  • How can I help?
  • If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
  • What was most useful for you?

In particular, Stanier raves about question #2, calling it the best coaching question in history. “And what else?” allows people to dig deeper than they previously had.

These questions may seem simple, but consider some of the basic assumptions of coaching:

  • No one needs a coach. But if they’re serious about their growth, they might want one
  • The client is whole, complete and capable as they are. You’re simply there to guide them

If you’ve seen the movie Inception, you know that part of the plot was planting seeds of thought and then letting the person come to their own conclusions. The reason being that when someone comes up with the answer themselves, it’s far more powerful than being told the solution.

It’s the difference between watching the math teacher do the problem on the board and sitting down and crunching the numbers for yourself.

The solution is now genuine for that person. They don’t have a disconnect of thinking “well, I think I should do X. But Bob says I should do Y”. That’s just not an effective way to operate. You feel like you’re going against your own judgment.

Of course, this also means that sometimes you have to bite your tongue when you as a coach feel like you “know better”. You cannot coach someone who is not willing to receive.

Fortunately, through the power of questions and effective coaching, you can cut that time drastically.

In essence, listen more, talk less. That’s what a good coach typically does.

This book is extremely easy to read, informative and even funny at times. If you want a light introduction to what this whole coaching thing is about, this is a great place to start.

Why Does It Suck

There’s a ton more to understand about coaching besides this book. This can be a quick, easy way to get some knowledge, but it will not get you most of the training necessary.

In essence, what you’ll have after this book is seven powerful questions and a general understanding on how to use them. There is much more to go.

The Wrap Up

Good for new coaches and anyone curious about getting into the coaching profession. For an experienced coach though, you can probably skip this one.