Coaching Conversation Contracting Skills


Contracting is the set of skills that we apply in creating agreements about various aspects of the coaching engagement.

Contracting is a skill linked to Professional Competencies:

Facilitates Client Growth: Partners with the client to transform learning and insight into action. Promotes client autonomy in the coaching process. Outcome and Action Orientation: Ensures client is taking responsibility for their own decisions, actions and learning approach


Best practice in coaching means that confidentially is bound by ethics and professional practice and any other boundaries agreed with sponsors, your client, or other stakeholders (coaching house etc.)


Psychological safety

Psychological safety is felt. It is based on multiple factors: everything that we do in setting up the conversation contributes to this felt sense of being safe. This includes: emails, scheduling, keeping agreements, preparation, communication, your way of being as a coach etc.

Telling your client that ‘this is a safe space’ doesn’t make it a safe space. Apply the Trust Formula.


The following are lists of sample questions that you could use. We expect that you will develop your own version of these in your practice over time.

Psychological safety

  • What is important to you so that you may speak freely?
  • As a professional practicing coach, I abide by a code of ethics and professional standards
  • Is there anything that you need in order for this to be a valuable session?


  • How do you understand your role as a client and my role as a coach?
  • Would it be useful for us to review the boundaries of confidentiality?
  • As we’ve talked about previously, my role as a coach is to facilitate your learning instead of giving advice.
  • How does that sound to you?
  • Does that make sense to you?
  • Is that what you expected?


  • What would you like to talk about today?
  • What do you want to discover in this session that’s useful to you?
  • What would you like to leave this session with in one hours’ time?
  • We have xxx time together today, what would you like to bring to coaching/leave session with?
  • Coaching works best when we have a session goal
  • Coaching works best when we leave with something that will help you make progress (something you can do / reflect on / take action / observe)
  • So where do you want to start?
  • Are we on track towards the goal we created for today’s session?

     Note:  Use the PROG process to develop a Session Goal (more on this to come!)


  • Which one of those (thoughts, topics, ideas) would be useful to explore?
  • I’ve heard you say [x] and [y], which of these are most important for you, or is there something else?
  • Would it be useful for you if …?
  • We’re about halfway through our time together. How are we doing in relation to what you want to leave the session with?
  • We have [time left], how are we doing?  Did we achieve what you wanted?  Or if achieved, what would be a good remaining use of our time?
  • How would you like us to end / close our session?

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