What Are Coaching Tips?

In the video and discussion below I’m going to explain what coaching tips are, along with a few “levels” of coaching tips. There is a lot of dogma in the coaching world around whether or not a coach should “give advice” (or tips) to clients, and I wrote this to clarify some of those issues.

What are coaching tips?  

Coaching tips are hacks, strategies, or ways to get from A to B. This includes advice, little answers, strategies, or “how-tos” that can support a coach in doing a great job coaching, or support a client in getting results from their coaching. Plenty of coaches offer advice or tips to their clients for exactly this purpose.  

Now let’s discuss the 3 different levels of coaching tips that a coach might give:

  • 1:11 Advice
  • 1:45  Powerful Questions
  • 3:14  Coaching Competencies

If you want to skip forward to any of these topics, you can click on the (above) time codes to skip to that part of the video.


01:11 Why are there “3 Levels” to coaching tips?

All coaching tips aren’t ‘created equal’.  There are different levels of tips that a coach might give.  

Level ONE Coaching Tips:  ADVICE

The first level (this is really the lowest level coaching tip) would be advice.  

Advice is just straight answers.  

This is not the greatest expression of what a coach can provide, but it still provides some value.  

If you don’t know how to get from New York to LA, and I tell you, “Take this road, and turn left here, and go here and here and here to get where you want to go,”

…that’s valuable. but…

…you’d probably figure it out without me as your coach.

That’s one of the reasons why advice is the not one the most effective coaching techniques you can use in your sessions.


01:45 Want to know how to improve coaching skills quickly? This next level coaching tip is where coaches begin to thrive… “powerful questions.”  

Powerful questions coming from a coach will open doors to all sorts of different answers.  In fact, these questions create a flood of answers.

…powerful questions create a flood of answers.”

If you ask me, “How do I get from New York to LA,” and, in return (instead of doling out advice), I ask you, 

  • “What are the different ways you think we might get from New York to LA?”  
  • “How do you want to get there?”
  • “What are the different ways that other people have gotten there?”
  • “How do you feel about actually going to LA in the first place?”  

There are infinite answers that could come from just those 4 or 5 questions.  

Powerful Questions Open up Options.”

02:22 Powerful questions open up options.  

From just a handful of questions, you’ll get all sorts of different approaches and  strategies that can get your client “from New York to LA” (or whatever result they’re after).  

Powerful Questions That Provoke Mindset Shifts

Some of the most powerful questions are questions that provoke a mindset shift.  

For instance, if I was to ask a client, “How do you feel about that?,” they’re going to answer with their current mindset.  

That’s fine, but the question isn’t provoking any transformation, is it?

Let’s come up with an even more powerful question to provoke a true mindset shift.  Imagine how must transformation your client can get from questions like these…

“How would you like to feel about this?”


“Who are you, really, when it comes to this area of your life?  Who would you like to be?”  

These kind of questions open doors to tons of different possibilities around the mindset that your client experiences right now, and the mindset they might experience next time they face that challenge or opportunity.  

Mindset shifts galore!


03:14 The highest level coaching tip (it’s really not even a ‘breed of tip’, rather it’s a unique property that emerges when you go beyond these lower two levels) is what coaches call a “coaching competency.”

With certain coaching competencies, you can ask infinite powerful questions in a coaching session.  You could give all sorts of different types of advice as the coach in a coaching session when you have the right competency.  

If you gain a certain (what we call in the coaching industry) “competency,” this will unleash all sorts of different possibilities that impact you (as the coach), impact the coaching session, and, ultimately, impact your client.

(NOTE: If you’ve been asking questions about ICF Certification lately, then you need to attend this webinar, called “ICF Credentialing & Coach Certification”. During the webinar, I’ll cover how you can gain an ICF Credential in a matter of months. Click HERE now to attend the webinar.)

Considering that, I hate even calling coaching competencies “tips”, because they are so far evolved beyond the limited value of a measly ‘tip’.

Coaching Competencies: A Few Examples

04:03 Here are some examples of coaching competencies:

Active Listening

Active listening is the ability to hear what a client says, but also beyond their mere words, including the ability to:

  • hear things that a client “didn’t say” (non-verbal or unspoken communication)
  • hear what a client might be suggesting (that’s implicit in their communication)
  • hear what a client is avoiding
  • hear the emotion in what a client is saying

There are many different “breeds” of active listening.  

Part of active listening is asking questions so you can learn more from a client as you’re listening to them, to continue to follow the “trail of breadcrumbs” your client has laid out for you. 

Direct Communication

04:34 Direct communication is the ability to powerfully communicate to your client in such a way where your client doesn’t just hear the meaning of what you’re saying, but they fully experience the depth of possibilities emerging from what you’re presenting to your client.

Creating Awareness  

04:52 Creating awareness is the ability to support your client in becoming aware of something that they weren’t aware of before, which includes the capacity to  deepen a client’s current awareness.  

If you are proficient in creating awareness, you’ll have tremendous potential to ask all sorts of powerful questions, and give inspiring advice to deliver more (and deeper) awareness in your client.  Do you see how this ‘meta-competency’ opens the door to many other actions and techniques in your coaching process?

…this ‘meta-competency’ opens the door to many other actions and techniques in your coaching process…”

Competencies Encapsulate The Rest of Your Coaching

05:13 Do you get a sense of why a coaching competency encapsulates lots of different questions, and each powerful question encapsulates lots of tips, advice, and answers?  

This is why there is a “hierarchy” behind every coaching tip.

What Are Coaching Tips?
The hierarchy of effective coaching techniques… not all coaching tips are created equal.

It’s good to give a tip, but it’s even ‘better’ to ask a powerful question, and even more powerful to be grounded in certain coaching competencies.

05:46 If you’d like to see an entire series where I cover the eleven core competencies of coaching, check out the articles right here.  In these articles and videos, we discuss the eleven “ICF Core Coaching Competencies” (ICF stands for “International Coach Federation”.  They’re the international governing body setting the standards for coaching and coaching competencies around the world).  

I hope that you took some value from this discussion answering the question “What are coaching tips?”

I also have a question for you:

Do you think a coach can/should give their clients advice?

What’s your best coaching tip?  

What’s your best coaching hack, or question, or competency?  What do you love about it, and why is it your favorite (or your best)?

I’d love to hear your feedback, so make sure that you leave a comment with your thoughts or questions.  

By the way, you can watch the entire What is Coaching series HERE, where I cover all of the different definitions within the domains of personal and professional coaching:

Also, I created an entire playlist of coaching tips videos, where you’ll learn some of my favorite coaching tips:  Check ‘em out HERE:

By the way… you’re invited to claim your FREE step-by-step “Master Coach Blueprint” video toolkit. Just go HERE now to get your master coach blueprint videos.

Jeffrey T. Sooey
Dean, Master Coach University
Founder, Coaches Training Blog community

FREE Video Course: How to Build a High Paying Coaching Business

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