The only valid way to LISTEN

– links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn
red on mouseover.

Listening from Belief

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another post in the Walking A Mile in Another’s Shoes Series

graphic: take-off of the "smileys" emoticon - hand to ear, strong emotion on face that could be disbelief or skepticismI’ve said before and I’ll say it again:
ADD/EFDers have had people trying to “fix” them
all their lives.
(including ALL of the citizens of Alphabet City)

And most of those “fixers” think their own experience of life is valid and useful, and that their ADD buddy merely has to adopt their perspective to be able to function differently — and well!

• You’re running your victim racket again . . .
• Everyone gets distracted, just TELL yourself you CAN pay attention . . .
• It’s all that coffee (sugar, lack of sleep – ANYTHING besides ADD itself)
• You are at the effect of an inaccurate BELIEF

Those comments may well come from a loving intention – most of us understand intellectually that those who claim to love us wish us well and are “only trying to help” – but do you realize how UNloving those comments are in execution?

They’re invalidating. They’re shaming and should-ing all over the place!

What’s worse, they don’t even work:
they produce exactly the opposite of what the person who says them says they want!

There are two main problems with this particular brand of should:

BOTH come from assumptions that are flat out wrong:

1 – they assume lack of self-awareness — that the ADDers are not experiencing or describing their world view appropriately or accurately;

2 – they assume volition well, maybe the ADDer is not exactly doing it on purpose, but they’re not making choices that will allow them NOT to do it either.  And they could!

So, once again, we’re back to the underlying assumption that “all” an ADDer has to do is make a commitment to willingness and their world will shift on a dime.

This Chinese finger-trap is a consequence of a failure to listen from a basic belief in your ADDer’s experience of the world, their willingness to share it truthfully, and their ability to language it accurately.

Listening through filters

If we filter our listening through the idea that our ADDer is “over-reacting,” or hyperbolizing, or making excuses, or being controlling or immature or mean or irresponsible, or “running a racket,” our listening will be skewed by our underlying assumptions.

As a result, we will miss the important clues that will help us to make changes in the situation.

It’s difficult to listen for anything useful when our listening from
has already discounted the information in basic ways.

EmergencyRoomSignI’ll give you an example that I’m sure anyone can relate to.

Think about one of the stories reported occasionally in the press involving a situation where an individual rushes to the Emergency Room only to be told that there is nothing wrong with them.  The specifics vary from case to case.

• We discovered nothing out of the ordinary in your mammogram and you are very young to have breast cancer.  It’s probably a benign cyst too small to be picked up.

• No you don’t have a appendicitis.  Your symptoms are caused by severe acid indigestion.  You must be unusually sensitive to pain.  Change your diet and you’ll be fine!

• No you are not having a heart attack.  You are having an anxiety attack.

In the most lurid of reports, the second part of the story goes on to report the death of the individual on their way home from the hospital — from something that was causing the very symptoms that took them to the Emergency Room in the first place.

How in the world could this happen?

Are our medical schools turning out poorly trained idiots or insensitive dolts who are in the field simply for the money?  Of course not!

I know a lot of doctors, and they all work very hard to stay current with the advances in their profession.  They sincerely want to give the very best care to the people who come to them for help. They fight valiantly to work within the increasingly restrictive guidelines imposed by the advent of managed care.

They pay an exorbitant amount of money for liability insurance to protect themselves from the effects of a lawsuit in an increasingly litigious society —  to retain their ability to stay in the field to help as many people as they can.

What is happening here is a perfect example of a failure to listen from belief. 

Had each doctor proceeded out of a belief that NO person would come to a doctor unless something were seriously wrong, any one of them would have discovered the very serious problem that was causing the symptoms that resulted in the unexpected and unnecessary death reported by the media. They simply would not have stopped testing until they found the problem.

However, there are  patients who ascribe symptoms to incorrect causes and must be sent home with accurate diagnoses that are much less serious.

There are also people who panic at any downturn in their health, as well as hypochondriacs and individuals who have nothing wrong with them whatsoever.

There is simply not enough time in any doctor’s day to do a thorough workup on every single person who walks through the door!  They’ve had to learn ways of listening that allow them to filter those cases that require immediate medical intervention from those that don’t.

Doctors must listen from educated skepticism.

That is not a good model for you to emulate in your personal or professional relationships, however!  I would like to suggest that the most powerful way to listen, the ONLY way that is really, truly listening, is to listen from belief.

(In another post, I discuss HOW to listen from belief, and why the shaming and should-ing has the opposite effect)

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Coaching Skills Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed them above)

Read elsewhere:

The Courage to Listen (Diary of a Mom)



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!"

9 Responses to The only valid way to LISTEN

  1. Pingback: Productivity, Focus & Follow-through | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. graceful you says:

    you appear to be a very creative person. i concur with comment above. “really unique”.
    not sure where you are coming from or what direction i’m headed with this comment except to say that my friends says your blog is very well-thought out and appears to strive to help the reader on many fronts. one of these friends has a history of tbi and struggles with theory of mind, but told me your blog appears very much interested in the well-being of your blogs followers. she says this blog could help me because i deal with certain organizational problems but i think that i’m dealing with them ok. i want to learn more on this subject as i notice in my kids’ friends that it is very prevalent and the parents who have taken initiative to look at various treatment options are always happy they have. i’m very traditional when it come to medications and feel that too many kids are on these stimulants, but i also think in many cases, the treatment has been worth it. i think more care needs to be taken into looking at possible causes from real life experiences and less from the strictly hereditary camp. i know a boy who has been severely bullied and now they are all talking add meds and i’m thinking he needs to deal with sense of helplessness. who can feel calm and focused when you feel helpless? thanks for your blog. G.


    • Thanks for your comment (and for taking the time). I DO care about the well-being of the entire EFD “tribe” – and I know first-hand how much “you’re not doing it right” we all hear and how helpful it is to hear anything from anyone who knows better.

      We can ALL improve, of course, but if you think you are organized “enough” you probably are, in my experience. I’m a big believer in “don’t fix anything that ‘ain’t broke.'” Read for suggestions and potential understanding of why you need things the way you do, not for answers to a “problem” you don’t believe you have. (I tell my friends that they are always free to clean up anything that bugs them – lol – but I will kill them if they think its okay to “organize” me!)

      Re: medication — I take meds myself, and encourage everyone to research with an open mind, but it is YOUR mind and YOUR body, so even if you believe intellectually that medication might be a good idea, I support your right to choose what goes in your body, even if you decide to choose no. (I just hate it when folks are saying no out of medication fear mongering so common in the press – that’s not really making a choice as much as an avoidance out of fear)

      I agree (as does science, btw) that there is more to mental health than heredity – and no pill is a magic bullet. As they say, “Pills don’t teach skills.”

      I don’t know this boy, so can’t really comment, but many to most kids who have been bullied need to deal with anxiety and/or depression (either of which can create symptoms that look like ADD, btw)

      Thanks again for taking the time to read and ring in.


  3. Pingback: Confirmation Bias & The Tragedy of Certainty | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  4. Pingback: Smoking and ADD/ADHD | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  5. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four
    emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from
    that service? Thank you!


    • I’m not sure – but BOY I get how annoying that could be! I’ll ask the WordPress gods how it can be UNclicked. SURELY there must be some way.

      Notice that you asked for notification of when “new comments are added”

      If you want notification of new ARTICLES, you need to go to the top of the skinny column to the right. That doesn’t include comments.


  6. christian louboutin outlet says:

    Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks
    I’ve read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this
    NOTE from mgh: Sorry, but non-related blogs and comments with marketing in the name field never get live links (and are usually not even approved)


And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: