Coaching Conversations: The Tunnelling Out Technique


by Kevin Watson



This week, I’d like to share with you a neat little framework to hold your coaching conversations.

If I had a pound for every person that has come up to me and asked: “I’ve got a problem but I can’t seem to find a solution – can you help me?” I’d be a very rich man!

In order to help someone with a problem using a coaching conversation, questions need to be asked – but where do you start?

Here are a few ideas to help you on your way, using a series of questions called the tunnelling out technique.

It’s called this because it’s been designed to help people with their tunnel vision, removing the blinkers from their problem or challenge.

Here goes:

1. Context

Start by asking questions about the problem they are facing. A simple question such as:

Q: What’s the problem you have right now?

2. Outcome

Follow up by asking questions about their desired outcome. For example:

Q: What do you really want?

Q: Why is this imp[oprtant? 

3. Expectations

Then, ask questions to set and specify expectations or the evidence criteria to be used once the desired outcome is achieved:

Q: How will you know when you have achieved what you want?

Q: What specific measures of success will you set?

4. Resources

Ask questions to identify the resources this person has already that can help achieve the outcome. Something like:

Q: What skills, resources, expertise etc do you already have that will help you achieve your desired outcome?

5. Options

Finally, ask questions to explore what is possible, ideas that may not have been thought of yet. Here are some examples you can use:

Q: What are your options?

Q: What else could you do?

Q: How else might you be able to achieve what you want?

Q: What would your closest friend do?

Q: What have you done in the past that is similar?

This is a really useful technique, providing structure to your coaching conversation.

Go ahead, try it out for yourself and let me know how you get on.


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About the Author

Kevin Watson

Kevin is a highly experienced Leadership Coach and acts as Consultant to several boards of global organisations, as well as local business owners. He is passionate about making a difference by enabling and encouraging leaders who want to create and sustain meaningful change in themselves and the organisation.



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