The ONE question you should avoid asking your clients

How many times have you thought “I shouldn’t have asked that question“?

The time you have with your clients during your appointments is precious. They should be productive, effective and leave you both feeling positive and motivated.

But I‘m sure there are times when you‘re left feeling exhausted and frustrated after a meeting with a client. It may be that the conversations you are having are taking you both down a path of past experiences and negative emotions that are de-energising and unproductive. This might be happening more often that you even realise.

There is one line of questioning that will lead you down the ‘rabbit hole‘ as I like to call it, and it can be unresourceful and unhelpful when it comes to client engagement.

So what is this question? Well, it can be any question really, but it always starts with WHY?

Here are some examples:

  • Why did you miss our last appointment?
  • Why didn‘t you call that employer back?
  • Why didn‘t you show up for that interview?
  • Why can‘t you find a job?

And the list goes on!

When you look at this line of questioning, you can start to see how it makes your clients spiral into feeling like they have to justify themselves to you or maybe they hear what you say as accusatory. It won‘t help them move forward. As soon as you ask a question that starts with WHY be aware that the answer you get will most likely take up precious time and not give you any information that will help you.

It‘s not to say you should never ask why. Why is a very powerful question when you are searching for the purpose and meaning behind an action or way of thinking. If you want to explore your clients values and what is important to them, WHY will help you uncover the emotional response and feelings that can drive behaviour.

For example, ‘Why is finding a job important to you?’

So what sort of questions should you be asking? At Bounce, we love the 4MAT System of Coaching.

The 4MAT System: Questions are the Answers


The 4MAT System of Coaching is based on the work of Bernice McCarthy 1979, 4MAT Learning Styles ( Questions that begin with ‘What, How or What if’ are some of the most resourceful questions you can use with your client. These questions help your client move forward and see possibility in areas they may never have considered before.

Here are some great examples you can ask:

  • How would you feel if you had a job?
  • What action would you like to take today?
  • If there were jobs to apply for, what sort of job would you like to do?

These types of questions encourage your clients to give you more accurate information about what is important to them. How they feel about their situation, and most importantly, they can light up their imagination to think about what might be possible.

Next time you meet with a client, try asking questions that start with ‘How, What or What if’ and see how much more productive your meetings become.

If you’d like to find out how to get meaningful engagement from every client meeting? Our Bounce Job Coach Certification gives you expert-level knowledge and practical skills to help you become the most confident Job Coach for your client outcomes.

Become a Job Coach

The Way Finders Academy is where you go to become a certified Bounce Job Coach. The course is delivered through our our expertly-developed learning platform inside the Academy. Bounce Job Coach Certification is the must-have training for anyone working in employment services.


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