Coaches, Dentists, and FIT – Part 3


Coaches, Dentists, and FIT

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
The third article in the 5-part Coaching Fit Series

Every Coach is Unique

No two coaches will work in exactly the same way —

just as each dentist goes about things
a bit differently from the rest of his colleagues,

and just as there are specializations
within the field of dentistry.

For example:

  • Not all dentists are qualified to do root canals.
  • Some don’t specialize in them, so haven’t performed
    very many as a result.
  • For some, root canals are a practice focus.
  • Still others do root canals for other dentists.

I know which ones I’d interview about doing MY root canal!

What does THAT have to do with ADD Coaching?

ADD Coaching is a specialized skill requiring a LOT of knowledge beyond the basic coaching skill set.

If you are dealing with ADD, make *sure* any coach you hire is an ADD COACH, not just “a coach who knows about ADD” —

and certainly not a coach who knows little to NOTHING about ADD! 

  • The difference between an ADD Coach and any other kind is specialized training in Attentional Spectrum issues.
  • There IS no FIT if your coach knows little more about ADD than YOU do!

THEN you want to find the “right” ADD Coach.  You’ll check out their training, knowledge, and experience of course, but the main thing that will make a particular coach right for YOU is what we call “fit” in the coaching world.

The right fit will make all the difference.

Finding an ADD Coach with the right FIT for YOU

As I said in the first article of this series, A Bunch of Words about Fit, “Fit” is that seemingly intangible quality that results in a feeling of affinity for one person where another (perhaps with equal qualifications) leaves you with a feeling that something is not quite right.

FIRST steps

Your first exposure to a coach’s style will probably be in printed material, on the web or in a chat room, or as a presenter at an ADD conference, support group or CH.A.D.D. meeting.  If you feel like this person might be a good coach for you, ask if they are currently taking new clients, and set up an appointment to interview them.

  • Many coaches offer a free initial consultation, often by phone, to help allow you to explore the fit.
  • Busier coaches sometimes charge a consultation fee, but often will discount the first months fees if you go on to coach with them.
  • ASK them how they do it, then make an appointment with a few coaches and ask each of them some questions.

Try not to be intimidated by the process and “stay in the driver’s seat.” 

I know how grateful I feel when anybody is willing to help me do anything at all, but I try always to remember that it won’t be much help if I don’t take the time to find out if the “helper” has the right attitude and ability to add to my life.

  • You wouldn’t leave your car with just anybody who hangs out a sign saying they work on cars, would you?
  • And you wouldn’t feel awkward asking about their qualifications just because you don’t know how to work on your car yourself, right?

That attitude of “entitlement” works when you’re interviewing coaches too.  You are hiring a service provider — checking out the service is part of the process.

Start with two or three interviews

You can over-research any area, so don’t start out with a list that makes the process more complicated than it needs to be. You will know after speaking with three ADD Coaches if one feels “right” or if you need to interview another one or two – (unusual, by the way).

Ask each of them a few simple questions that are similar, so you can compare the way each coach responds to help you decide which responses “resonate” and make you feel comfortable.

Ask questions like:

  • “How long before I start seeing results?”
  • “What will we start with?”
  • “What takes place in a coaching session with YOU?”

While there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, they will help you get a good idea about how each of the coaches approach things.  Although is no “right” answer, you do need to know if the way they work will be something that will work for YOU.

Then follow up with a couple of questions that occurred to you when that coach first came to your attention.

For example:

  • “At ADDA  (on your website, or in your brochure) you said “such and such.”
    What exactly does that mean?
  • “I’m not sure I understand your policy about appointments and reschedules.
    How does that work?

A question I was asked once was, “You said you don’t think changes can be made in response to shame.  Does that mean that coaching won’t work for me if I feel any shame about the way things are?” 

My answer gave her a chance to listen to HOW I responded while she got a deeper understanding of my way of working with self-esteem and ADD.  She got a good feeling about how future questions might be handled too.

Eight Things to Listen For
When You Interview a Coach

You will be “listening for” a number of things besides the basic information that answers your questions themselves.

The list below expands on eight of them.

 1.  How comfortable is this coach answering the kinds of questions I ask?

In many forms of therapy questions are handled in a fairly limited way, since the point is what YOU think and what YOU feel.  Personal information about the therapist is rarely forthcoming, and you learn relatively quickly not to ask about your therapist’s private life.

Coaching is what coaches call an “inter-developmental” process.  A great many coaches are willing to share a great deal of themselves and their experiences (especially their personal challenges with ADD issues), as a technique to help you discover what will work for you.

“Comfort answering your questions,” however, is not solely indicated by self-disclosure — the “flashlight” needs to stay pointed on you for YOU to get the benefit; good coaches share just enough to make the point and move the focus back to YOUR life.

Listen to make sure that you are comfortable with the way the coach handles your question, regardless of how much or little personal information is revealed.  If you feel embarrassed that you asked, share any feelings of discomfort with the coach.  Give them a chance to make you feel GREAT for having asked!  If they aren’t willing to try — or if  they make you feel worse, move on.

 2.  Does this coach understand my questions?

Any two people take a bit of back and forth communication to start with, but if you feel that you are not being “heard” correctly, that’s something to note.  Check it out with the coach.  “I don’t feel like you really understood my question.  Let me ask it again.”  THEN listen for how willing they are to accommodate your style, and how well they do so.

The process will continue to get easier with the right coach, even if you have to explain yourself more than once.

3.  Do I understand the answers?

If I don’t, was the information presented in a way that it is relatively easy to ask for more, or am I left with a feeling that I’m “supposed” to understand and that further questions are somehow “wrong?”  (Risk asking another question before you conclude anything definite; then check again to see how you feel.)

 4.  Does this coach relate to my particular ADD Challenges?

Most ADDers have had far too many experiences with people who thought they understood what we needed when we believed that they didn’t really understand at all.
As annoying as it is in other parts of life, that dynamic has NO place in a coaching relationship.

You want a coach who listens to what is particularly challenging for you with an open mind, so that you can come up with some solutions tailored especially for YOUR challenges.

Take particular note of statements using the words “just” and “only” — a good indication of a tendency to over-simplify challenges or solutions — especially a response that makes you feel that if you’d “only” follow a few simple suggestions, all of your problems would be behind you.

TRUST ME, if it were “just” or “only” a matter of some simple thing, you would have
figured it out without their help a l-o-n-g time ago!

 5.  Remember that the BEST coach for you won’t necessarily have THE ANSWER.

While all of us would love to find a fairy godmother who could wave a magic wand and make everything work, the reality is that your coaching will be an ongoing exploration between the two of you.  Your coach will be a mirror and a guide, NOT the “Answer Person.”

If a coach presents THE answer, if you don’t immediately feel an inner “YES!” in response, you might want to keep looking for a coach that is willing to co-create the process with you.  “Cookie cutter” solutions rarely work with ADDers, so you want to clear steer of “formula” coaching that doesn’t give you input into the process.

 6.  One place you CAN expect your ADD Coach to have answers is about ADD itself

Part of the reason you hire a coach is to help you to “normalize” your functioning, identifying it within the “attentional disorders spectrum.”  A good ADD Coach will be knowledgeable about ADD and will be willing and able to explain the nuances to you in as much detail as you want.

If your coach has ADD as well, expect a little “pre-frontal cortex shut-down” when asked directly, so don’t be dismayed if the answer is not IMMEDIATELY forthcoming, or if the coach needs to look it up.

The fact that they know what to do to GET the information is modeling a skill you can use too.  Nobody has everything “on the tip of their brain.”  A willingness to say, “Gee, I don’t know, but I’ll find out for you” is a sign of a good coach too, as long as it doesn’t happen “all the time.”

7.  Do I feel rushed to make a decision, or “sold” in any way?

This is a little trickier to listen for, because part of the interview will include communications to let you know what to do next to hire this coach, and most coaches will tend to state that relatively quickly.  That may feel a little “rushed” to you.

If you are a verbal processor, you may be encouraged to “bullet” your communications — to state them more briefly than you might be used to.  Most good coaches are in demand, and don’t have  the time to accompany you as you “meander in the wilderness” while you work things out aloud in the way you might with a friend.

Part of the process of learning to focus energy and communication will include a shift in your “natural” rhythms.  Depending on how MUCH you tend to wander, you may well feel a little rushed by the very best of coaches.

HOWEVER, a feeling of “now or never” in terms of HIRING a particular coach is worth looking at v-e-r-y closely. 

Since ADDers can be impulsive, good ADD Coaches want to make sure that an ADDer doesn’t rush in without thinking.

If you sense that your impulsivity is being used as a lever to force a quick decision, check it out with a comment.  “I’m feeling pressured to make a decision I’m not quite ready to make yet,”  or, “I have a few other coaches to interview before I’m ready to make a decision about hiring anyone,” are two good ways to begin. The right coach will endorse you for “due diligence.”

8.  The WRONG coach

The coach to avoid is the one who talks like a person selling “Today’s special, available only to those who act today!” If the fit is RIGHT, the coaching relationship will keep a day or two.  (If the coach has only one opening, which fills before you get back to grab it, decide that the universe is sending you to another coach.)

Whenever you are talking to a  “now or never” person where coaching is concerned, I strongly recommend that you decide NEVER and keep looking.

IMPORTANT:  Don’t confuse this advice with deadlines for classes or workshops.  Anyone working with ADDers simply must set hard and fast deadlines for enrollment or discount specials, so don’t expect to be able to push those boundaries and prevail.

Don’t make it mean that the coach is trying to pressure you into a commitment you are not ready to make simply because there is a decision deadline – applicable to all – after which, the opportunity passes.  An immediate decision deadline for Private Coaching raises a red flag, however.

That said, there is nothing wrong with feeling strongly that a particular coach is the right one and acting immediately.  Just make sure that you are reacting that way because YOU feel it as an organic response to the relationship, not that you have been manipulated in some way by a particular person’s “salesmanship.”

If you’re not sure, sleep on it.  Any coach who has room today and can’t accommodate you tomorrow is probably not the right coach for you anyway.


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Related articles on ADDandSoMuchMore:

From the Coaching FIT series:

Exploring Coaching with me:

A few related Coaching Articles:

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

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