Updated: Oct 15, 2022
Connections between people are so important. There's nothing earth-shattering about that statement, and yet, it is foundational to the coaching experience. Without the feeling of connection between coach and client, the work is much more difficult, if not impossible.
It's more than finding out about a client's hobbies or favorite books and movies. A coach must intentionally endeavor to make sure that clients feel heard and appreciated. Listening for clues to the way a client feels about things and the why behind those feelings, deeper than just the surface answer to questions, empowers coaches to find real ways to connect.
For clients who have ADHD or other challenges, these connections are especially critical. Many clients have struggled through school and/or life, causing lots of difficult feelings. Coaches have the opportunity to hear some of the impacts of those feelings and to work with the client to encourage them to see the possibilities and capabilities as they learn strategies to overcome obstacles.
Building these relationships takes time. Sometimes it feels like the "actual coaching" is taking a back seat to the relationship, but without the relationship, the coaching is far less effective. Time spent constructing a meaningful relationship leads to better outcomes for the client.
When I look back at the students and clients that I believe I have been able to impact in the most meaningful ways, it's easy to see that the work took time. It usually meant learning about the things that matter to them outside the classroom and even why they enjoy those activities. Whether it's learning about a new sport (squash, anyone?) or coming to appreciate art in a different way, or exploring comic con and cosplay, I have learned so much and my interest in things that I didn't know I would be interested in was a major part of that success.
So if you're a coach, focus on the relationship as well as the work of coaching. And if you're a client, trust the process of that relationship-building process as part of the work and not fluff.