How to Choose the Right Coach for You

by Susan Dunn

Choosing the right coach for you is an important decision in your overall personal and professional growth plan. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Take a look at the coach's website and check out their background.

More important than credentials, is a history that shows a dedication to helping other people grow. There are various coaching schools that offer credentialing, but there's no regulatory agency. Educational background is important (most frequent former fields are English, psychology, social work, and marketing), but so is life experience, and so is dedication to a helping profession.

2. Can you get a feel for them as a person from their website?

The website should include enough information to satisfy your curiosity as to credentials, experience, relevant resources, and affiliations, but it should also give you a feel for who the coach is as a person. You won't be working with "a coach," you'll be working with "Nancy," or "Thomas." I like the websites that show photos, talk about a pet, a hobby, relationships, favorite quotes.

3. Check the website for mechanics.

How they care for their website is how they care for things--and soon you'll be one of them. Are there careless typos? Does the grammar meet your standards? Is it dynamic, changing, and electric with newness, excitement and variety? Do they appear to 'talk your language.'

4. Does their website show originality?

Most people sign up for coaching when they're ready to make big changes, and that will require creativity. It will also require that the coach can relate to you as the unique individual that you are.

5. Look for authenticity.

The only thing a coach needs to be an expert about (besides coaching)is his or her own authenticity, and you should see signs of it on the website. Do they seem to be using a template or cookie cutter approach in what they do? Are they giving cant phrases or sincere, personalized statements? You don't want to end up on an assembly-line.

6. Is the website user-friendly and does its organization appeal to you?

This is a personal preference--just like the coach you pick. You may prefer linear, and logical, or you may prefer a site that's more holistic and random. However it's organized will tell you something about the coach.

7. Do their links show areas of common interest to you or a broad appeal?

8. Do they show signs of conceptual thinking?

A coach needs to be able to draw out the patterns and abstractions from the particulars, i.e., if they understand the fundamentals of work, they can help you about your job whether it's engineering or public relations.

Good coaches are leaders, and according to EQ studies, leaders are high in "big pattern" recogniation and pattern recognition.

8. Read the FAQs on the coaching sites--CoachVille, International Coach Federation, Coach U and others. They can also give you tips.

9. Check out mention of fees, structure and policies.

Do they ask you to sign a contract? Are they flexible in their scheduling, or highly structured? Does this agree with your preference?

10. Does the site mention ethics and standards or provide a link for coaching ethics and standards?

11. The whole time you're on the site, be in touch with your innate reactions.

This is subjective, entirely--do you like the colors, the words chosen, the flow or non-flow of the writibng, the layour, the navigation? All these things will affect you the same way the coach will. 12. Is the site all about the coach or is it all about you? Same ratio will probably apply in the coaching sessions.

13. Ask people whose opinions you value if they've used a coach, and if so, can they give you a referral?

Do not put more than 50% 'weight' to this, because coaching depends upon the fit with you and the coach, not someone else and the coach.

14. Check out the coach's name on a search engine and see what you come up with.

15. After perusing several websites, make a list of several who appeal to you on 'paper', and then take advantage of the free initial consultation most coaches give.

16. When you talk to the coach test out the fit.

The fit is the most crucial variable in the whole equation--is this someone you're comfortable talking to? Do they seem critical and judgmental? Overly harsh? Do they patronize you or are they condescending? Do they make you feel good about yourself in the conversation and optimistic about working with them and about your goals and plans? Do they alter their conversational style ever-so-sightly over the course of the conversation to accommodate more to yours? These are signs of empathy.

17. Bring up any questions and concerns that you have.

18. Do they ask you for their business?

19. Then ... you've done all the homework.

Now use your intution. When it feels right, it feels right. Your intuition is your surest guide. (To develop your intuition, study emotional intelligence with an EQ coach.)

Choosing a good coach is work, but it will pay off in the end.

Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, . I offer coaching, distance learning courses, and ebooks around emotional intelligence. Free ezine, Daily tips, send blank email to . I train and certify EQ coaches. Get in this field, dubbed "white hot" by the press, now, before it's crowded, and offer your clients something of real value. Start tomorrow, no residence requirement, global student body. Email for prospectus. Business programs - .

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