Understanding Trustful Relationships

Trust is a strong word. Trustworthiness is stronger and comes with a lot of responsibilities. It is undoubtedly the foundation of any relationship – internal or external, personal or professional. It is a slow process and takes time to develop. But, once developed, it can be leveraged to create success in every aspect of life.

Needless to say, trust is the defining factor in a coach-coachee relationship. Disclosure of underlying issues is essential to successful coaching outcomes. And this disclosure is not possible without a deep sense of understanding and trust. Trust in a coaching relationship allows the coach to act as a critical friend, providing support and guidance focused on enhancing the coachee’s strengths.

A trustful relationship involves two individuals where one party takes the risk of trusting the other while the other has the bigger responsibility of being trustworthy. In this case, it is you – the coach.

Cultivating trust and safety is a vital coaching competency emphasized by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and holds immense importance in creating an environment that fosters growth and exploration.

As a coach, it is crucial to recognize the responsibility of co-creating a trusting relationship with the client. This involves actively seeking to understand the client within their unique context, considering their identity, environment, experiences, values, and beliefs. The coach establishes trust and respect by demonstrating genuine interest and empathy towards the client’s individuality.

Respecting the client’s identity, perceptions, style, and language is another key aspect of cultivating trust. Each client possesses their way of perceiving and interacting with the world, and it is the coach’s role to adapt their coaching approach accordingly. By embracing and honouring these differences, the coach creates a safe space allowing clients to fully express themselves without judgment or criticism.

Acknowledging and valuing the client’s unique talents, insights, and work in the coaching process is essential for building trust. The coach instils confidence and fosters a sense of empowerment by recognizing and affirming the client’s strengths and contributions. This acknowledgement demonstrates support, empathy, and concern for the client’s growth and development.

Also, the coach fosters a sense of safety and trust by creating an atmosphere where the client’s expressions are welcomed and validated. Openness and transparency also play a significant role in building trust, as the coach’s vulnerability serves as a catalyst for the client’s openness and vulnerability.

As coaches, we often come across clients struggling to build professional or personal relationships. And most of the time, the core of the problem is again the absence of trust. We need to remember that every relationship is as strong as the trust in that relationship. When your coachee brings up a topic about a relationship, make sure you help them to reflect on the trust in that relationship. 

According to Charles H. Green, David H. Maister and Robert M. Galford, authors of The Trusted Advisor, trust can be deconstructed into four simple components credibilityreliabilityintimacy and self-orientation.

It reflects the balance of the human heart and mind. Once the right balance occurs, the trust ensures high degrees of confidence and dependability.

In Coach Café Coaching Tools Library, I share a coaching tool on how to help your coachees reflect on the trust in a relationship pragmatically.

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