What are Softeners in Coaching?

Fresh soft towelsIn coaching, softeners are a a few words you use just before asking a difficult question to literally 'soften the blow'.

By using a softener, you're subconsciously preparing them for a potentially difficult shift in the conversation's energy. Using softeners is therefore a great way to maintain rapport with your clients while asking the challenging questions that are going to move them forwards.

Here are 7 softeners to get you started:

    1. I’m curious…     (keeping it open and light)
    2. Just for a moment…     (you won't have to do this for long)
    3. Let’s suppose…     (let's play here)
    4. I was wondering…     (keeping it open and light)
    5. Help me out here…     (you'll be doing me a favour)
    6. Would it be OK to play with this?     (asking their permission)
    7. Let me ask you this…     (asking their permission more forcefully)


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  1. Jacki Bruchert

    I love the brief suggestions and ideas for "how" to work and "be" with clients. I am brand-new to coaching, and this is very practical stuff that really helps me. Thanks so much!

    • elelsey

      Hi Jacki, Thanks for your comments! I'm trying to make sure the articles are short AND sweet - ie. with useful, usable content. I've discovered that it's HARDER to write shorter, punchier articles than longer ones! But that is a challenge I'm enjoying. ANYhow, thanks so much for your comment - it's very encouraging that we're on the right track! Warmly, EL


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