35+ Great Coaching Questions to Get Your Clients Unstuck

Coach with laptop, phone and headset, using coaching questions to get unstuck

Do you love coaching questions? Because great questions are a key part of our coaching toolkit. Of course we want to go with the flow in any coaching conversation, but I find that lists of coaching questions help get me inspired and offer new ways of approaching issues.

So in this article we share 35 (with a few extras) of my favourite coaching questions to get unstuck.

Let's get started! And we begin with:

4 coaching questions to see if your clients really want to get unstuck!

Whether it's a problem they can't seem to solve, or a goal your clients seem unable to reach, try asking:

  1. Hmmmm. I'm curious, if you could have this now, would you take it?
  2. [Pause] So, how important is this really?
  3. If you were to give a score out of 10 (where 0 is not at all and 10 is I would do anything to achieve this) for how much you truly want _____, what would it be? Tell me the first number that pops into your head without thinking!
  4. So, I'm just wondering, is this your goal—or someone else's? If you were to look inside, is this something, deep down, that you truly want for yourself?

TIP: You may also have noticed the use of softeners here, to make it easier to ask those tough questions.

5 questions to identify what's getting in the way

  1. What do you think we can do in these coaching sessions for you? How can I help? (this points to the problem and the help they are looking for)
  2. What's the problem in a nutshell? What about in one sentence? And in one word?
  3. What specifically makes you feel stuck?
    • OPTIONAL: [Pause] And is this true?
  4. What do you think you're afraid of? What could go wrong if you try to change things?
  5. So, what's stopping you?

4 questions to see how your client is getting in their own way

  1. How do you stand in your own way? What's your role in this issue?
  2. What would happen if you lowered your expectations? (good to use with perfectionists)
  3. What are you ready to change? And what are you NOT ready to change yet?
  4. Where do you make it difficult for yourself?

4 coaching questions to see how your client benefits from being 'stuck'

These questions look at something in coaching we call the 'Secondary Gain'. This is literally the gain people get from staying exactly as they are.

Acknowledging a secondary gain can lead to an "Aha!" moment, and some clients may not be able to move forwards until we openly address it.

  1. How do you benefit by staying exactly as/where you are? What's the pay-off?
  2. How is this situation working for you?
  3. What do you (perhaps secretly) gain by not changing anything?
  4. What have you used (the current "stuck" situation) to avoid? And what does (the current "stuck" situation) mean you continue to get?

3 coaching questions to explore the consequences of staying stuck

  1. What happens if you continue with the _____ (current "stuck" situation)?
  2. How will you feel if this is not resolved by the end of the year? (or add a time period of your choosing)
  3. What happens if nothing changes?

5 questions helps your clients identify resources to move forwards

Sometimes the best coaching questions to get unstuck are those that identify what help we need!

  1. What would help you get unstuck?
  2. What resources do you need to make a decision?
  3. What information do you need to get unstuck?
  4. What help would you love to get?
  5. Think of someone successful you admire (get client to name them): What suggestions do they have for your situation?

Have fun with these 5 brainstorming questions that use the 5 senses

Frame up these coaching questions first by asking your clients to play here—and use their sense imagination. It can also be fun to ask clients to 1) Imagine that they already know the answers somewhere deep inside, then 2) Close their eyes and take a few deep breaths. Now ask:

  1. What possibilities can you see?
  2. What possibilities can you hear?
  3. What possibilities can you feel?
  4. What possibilities can you smell?
  5. What possibilities can you taste?

TIP: Give your clients plenty of time to settle and settle into each question, and let ideas arise.

The following 5 questions help choose an action/next steps

  1. What's one change you could make that would move you closer to your goal?
  2. What would be the easiest, most doable next step?
  3. What are three actions you could take that would make sense this month?
  4. What are you willing to do in the next week?
  5. What could you commit to right now?


Hopefully these questions have given you some ideas for questions (and question structures) to ask when you have a stuck client! Enjoy 🙂

Love these Coaching Questions to Get Unstuck?

Try our free tool with 37 Questions to Liberate Your Clients.
PLEASE NOTE: The questions in this tool are (mostly) different those in this article & focus on brainstorming ideas.

And we'd also love to hear some of your coaching questions to get clients unstuck, so comment below to share yours!

If you liked this article with coaching questions to get clients unstuck, you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Happy coach at desk with laptop and phone considering questions to get a client unstuck by Ground Picture via Shutterstock

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