The Symbiotic Relationship Between Questioning and Coaching

At the core of effective coaching lies the art of asking insightful questions. Unlike typical instructors or advisors, a seasoned coach doesn’t merely hand over the solutions. Instead, they pose thought-provoking queries to guide their clients on a journey of self-discovery, paving the path for more personalized and sustainable outcomes.

Why Are Questions So Integral in Coaching?

  1. Eliciting Self-awareness and Discovery: Instead of providing direct answers, questions compel clients to delve deeper into their psyche. It pushes them to explore, reflect, and uncover insights they might not have realized on their own.
  2. Empowering the Client: By leading with questions, coaches place the power and responsibility of finding solutions directly into the hands of their clients. This not only fosters a sense of ownership but also strengthens the commitment to implementing these solutions.
  3. Facilitating A Tailored Journey: No two individuals are the same, and by asking the right questions, coaches can tailor their approach to align perfectly with the client’s unique circumstances, aspirations, and challenges.
  4. Stimulating Reflection and Clarity: Probing questions provide clients with the opportunity to ponder their motivations, barriers, and desires. They assist in dissecting thought processes, revealing unexplored avenues, and determining actionable steps forward.
  5. Driving Accountability: Questions act as gentle reminders of one’s goals and responsibilities. When clients vocalize their plans and intentions in response to a question, they’re more likely to hold themselves accountable.

Drawing from the principles of positive psychology, the role of questions in coaching isn’t just about gathering information but more about guiding clients towards a transformative journey. While the specific questions might differ based on individual needs and situations, their underlying objective remains consistent: to lead clients toward heightened self-awareness and informed action, whilst stimulating wellbeing and flourishing.

Harnessing the Power of “So What?” in Coaching

In the realm of personal development and coaching, the question “So what?” possesses transformative potential. There can be profound impact of this seemingly simple inquiry on our thought processes and the narratives we craft for our lives.

Directing Conscious Attention: Every day, our brain is inundated with a myriad of information. However, its advanced filtering mechanism ensures that only what we have designated as ‘important’ is retained. Essentially, the significance we assign to certain thoughts determines what our brain notices and prioritizes. Yet, alarmingly, many of us operate on autopilot, not consciously directing our brain to what truly matters. Instead, we let it run on default, often re-affirming pre-existing belief systems, whether or not they serve our growth.

Unlocking Awareness with “So What?”: When a coach prompts a client with “So what?” or “What are you making that mean?”, it is an invitation to introspection. These questions challenge us to confront our automatic thoughts and unveil the underlying beliefs driving them. In doing so, we come to a realization: everything that follows these questions is the narrative we’re weaving, often colored by biases, past experiences, and preconceived notions. It is our constructed reality, not an absolute truth.

The True Power of Our Narratives: Understanding that our thoughts birth our emotions, and our emotions heavily influence our actions, makes it vital to be discerning about our thought patterns. The narratives we spin, consciously or unconsciously, shape our feelings. Given that our primary drive is to seek pleasure and avoid pain, it’s essential that our stories align with empowering beliefs. More often than not, we inadvertently let our brain collect evidence to reinforce negative stories, leading to undesired outcomes.

However, the beauty of being human lies in our ability to reshape our stories. We possess the autonomy to assign meaning to events, experiences, and interactions. Every incident, regardless of its nature, can be interpreted in multiple ways. Thus, the onus is on us: Will we choose a narrative that uplifts and inspires? Or one that pulls us into a spin of negativity?

How I Can Support You on This Journey

In light of the insights we’ve explored about the art of questioning and the transformative power of the “So what?” inquiry, it’s clear that understanding and navigating our inner narratives is both intricate and pivotal. Yet, doing so requires more than just knowledge—it demands guided introspection, consistent practice, and genuine commitment.

Your Guide to Emotional Mastery and Leadership

As an Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Coach, I bring to the table a blend of evidence-based practices, tailored coaching techniques, and a genuine passion for facilitating personal growth.

  1. Deep Dive into Questioning: I’ll help you harness the power of questions, not only to navigate challenges but also to discover deeper insights about yourself and the world around you.
  2. Reflective Practice: Together, we’ll employ simple pragmatic models inspired from positive psychology (e.g. Rolfe’s model- see below & appendix for more information) to guide reflections and ensure you are consistently reflecting, learning, and iterating on your personal journey.
  3. Redefining Your Narratives: Based on the enlightening perspective from the Life Coach School Podcast, we will collaboratively examine the stories you tell yourself. Are they serving your goals and aspirations? Or are they silently guiding you off-track? With dedicated guidance, you’ll learn to pivot your narratives towards positivity, empowerment, and success.

Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence

Effective leadership isn’t just about strategy and vision—it’s about understanding oneself and others on a profound level. My coaching sessions are designed to elevate your emotional intelligence, empowering you to lead with empathy, resilience, and adaptability.

Let’s Begin Your Journey

If what we’ve discussed resonates with you—if you see value in introspection, questioning, and evolving your narratives for personal and professional excellence—I invite you to reach out. Together, we can chart a path towards heightened self-awareness, meaningful growth, and leadership that inspires.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sophie


APPENDIX: Unlocking Introspection with the Rolfe’s Model

The power of reflection in personal and professional development cannot be overstated. Among numerous models that facilitate reflective practice, the Rolfe’s model, inspired by Terry Borton’s work, stands out for its elegant simplicity and practicality.

Origins and Evolution of the Rolfe’s Model

Originally conceptualized by Terry Borton in the 1970s for group facilitation, the model gained traction as a valuable reflective tool for healthcare practitioners a decade later. Its brilliance lies in breaking down reflection into three accessible phases, which allow for a comprehensive introspective journey.

The Three-Step Reflective Process:

  1. What? – Begin by painting a vivid picture of a specific event or situation. Delve into the tangible outcomes, emotional responses, challenges encountered, and the overall environment.
  2. So What? – This phase encourages a deeper exploration of the experience. Ponder upon the insights gained about personal beliefs, interactions, prevalent paradigms, thought patterns, and areas of growth.
  3. Now What? – Armed with insights from the previous phases, this step emphasizes actionable outcomes. It’s about charting a path forward, identifying potential enhancements, and strategizing for improved results in similar future scenarios.

Why the Rolfe’s Model Shines:

  1. Simplicity is its Strength: In a world inundated with complex frameworks, the Rolfe’s model offers a refreshing simplicity, making it approachable for anyone, irrespective of their familiarity with reflective practices.
  2. Promotes Deep Introspection: While the model is structurally simple, it demands profound introspection. To truly benefit, one must tackle each phase with sincerity, openness, and a willingness to uncover latent truths.
  3. Structured Exploration: The sequential nature of the model ensures that individuals do not miss out on crucial aspects of reflection. It guides the user methodically from understanding an event to deriving actionable insights.
  4. Universality: Though originally designed for healthcare practitioners, its adaptable nature means it can be effectively employed across diverse fields and scenarios.

In their book, ‘Critical reflection for nursing and the helping professions: A user’s guide’, Professor Gary Rolfe and colleagues delve deeper into the nuances of this reflective framework. They emphasize that while the model is a beacon guiding reflection, the depth and richness of insights gained are contingent upon one’s commitment to the process.

Embracing the Rolfe’s model and integrating it into one’s reflective practices can serve as a powerful tool, not only for personal growth but also for enhancing one’s professional trajectory.



  1. Moore, C. (2019) 100 Most Powerful Life Coaching Questions. [Web page]. Retrieved from (Accessed October 2023)
  2. FutureLearn. (n.d.). Self-reflection and the Rolfe’s model. Career Smart: Sell Yourself. Retrieved from
  3. University of Cumbria. (n.d.). Reflective Model – Rolfe. [PDF]. Retrieved from
  4. Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., & Jasper, M. (2001). Critical reflection for nursing and the helping professions: A user’s guide. Palgrave Basingstoke.
  5. The Life Coach School. (2015). Podcast Episode 88: “So What”. Retrieved from