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  • Writer's pictureMarkus Fendrich

The first question I ask at the beginning of each coaching session

The first question I ask at the beginning of each coaching session and the surprising reactions it provokes

Here it is, the first question I ask at the beginning of each coaching session:

How do you feel on a scale from 0 to 10?

(10 being complete fulfilment and 0 you are just about to commit suicide). I then explain that at around 6-7, people are happy, and at about 3-4, they are close or in a depression.

Some selected recent reactions:

Coachee 1: “5”

Me: “Ok, how would you feel about a 3?”

Coachee 2: “Actually, yes, it is a 3.”

Coachee 2: no response

Me: “Why is it difficult for you to respond to this question?”

Cochee 2: does not understand why I ask this question, challenges my approach (I only had my short introduction and this one question so far .. ), and does want to take a different approach.

Coachee 3: “6-7, I was always happy in my life so far and had no real problems.”

Me: “Ok, why do we meet?”

Coachee 3: “I do not know how to resolve the relationship with my manager.”

Coachee 4: starts crying

Me: “What makes you cry when I ask this question.”

Coachee: 4: “I am afraid I won’t make it in life”

I use this question before I start explaining my approach, and it is incredible how quickly the doors to their key of their life open. Typically, within the first half hour to one hour, we are at the core of what makes them and what influences why they do what they do. If everything seems good, I wish them a good day with some tips and end the coaching. Mostly we go through another 3-4 sessions until they can restructure who they are in a way that works better for them.

Here is some more background on the stories. Incredible personalities that show the strength to move forward and look into the mirror. A few sentences do not represent their complex stories, but below can give an idea:

Coachee 1, when challenged, is stuck in mechanisms that want the coachee to give up, despite being a strong personality. It was something the coachee learned from the mother unconsciously, but now the coachee sees that he/she has better alternatives to this behaviour. Plus, he/she can choose now which behaviour is best and what result it creates when challenged. It has so far impacted the coachee's life a lot.

Coachee 2 struggles to see own impact on others and that issues in the coachee’s life are impacted strongly by his/her behaviour which can be very disruptive. Coachee struggles to read situations and what his/her impact on others is. We have much work still ahead decrypting for the coachee the influence of her parents which seems where the behavioural roots are set and the coachee is now open to doing this work.

Coachee 3 is a brilliant and incredibly positive personality. But crossed ways with the opposite style. All actions to remediate that worked so far in coachees' life seem to make things even worse. It is about own protection during stressful times and making strategic decisions. It is also about learning how to apply own strength in different ways.

Coachee 4 learned that fears brought him/her back into her 2nd burnout, so the coachee has to start taking action to protect and rebuild immediately. Coachee also realised that because he/she does not see a way to access the future and feels like a victim. Coachee also discovers that he/she has not defined what the future could be like, and has not defined anything worth fighting for. I made the coachee experience emotional choices, and we even switched between them, so the coachee does not only intellectually but also physically understand triggers, how to react and how it feels to use an alternative approach. Some more sessions of work ahead still.

Coaching is incredibly important but also challenging work, for both the coachee and the coach. It is about the fast and fundamental change in how you function, how you make decisions and how to achieve your dreams.

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