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  • Herb Cohen

The Importance of Trust in Coaching

Updated: Mar 30, 2019

“How do I know I can trust that you will be able to help us?” The founder of an accounting firm asked me this during our first meeting. He had recently brought in a new partner who was 20 years his junior. To make the partnership transition as seamless as possible, the junior partner requested a coaching consultation with me. As can sometimes be the case, the senior partner was quite reluctant about the process which made complete sense to me.

In order to establish a relationship of trust, I listened to what he had to say while being respectful of his reservations. Instead of minimizing his concerns, I explained to them the issues that partners need to address when there is such an age disparity and laid out plan to move forward. Without pressure, I acknowledged his hesitancy and expressed how I thought they could benefit from coaching.

After thinking about it for a few days, the founder called to tell me they’d decided to work with me. When I asked why, he said, “There is something about you that I like. You seem to understand what we need and showed us a path forward.”

I worked with them for a year and a half on their partnership transition and other business issues until they were resolved. I now see them about 3-4 times per year.

The ability to establish trust is a core coaching competency at the heart of any successful coaching relationship. To do this you need to experience being understood, respected, feeling emotionally safe, and have confidence in the coach's competency. When this occurs you begin to open up to the coaching process with the thought, “What’s possible for me now and in the future?

The following article highlights the importance of trust in a coaching relationship and what qualities to seek in an Executive Coach. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

6 Steps to Building Trust with your Wellness Coaching Clients

Posted by: Suzanne Monroe


Have you ever wondered how to build trust with new wellness coaching clients? If you’re a coach or other practitioner who helps clients, then you know that trust is essential to a successful and productive relationship with your clients. Most people believe trust builds over time, but is there more to building trust than just putting in the time?

Of course there is. If you want to know how to build trust with a client, think about the people you trust in your life. Why do you trust them? In most cases, the people you trust most have made you feel safe opening up and being vulnerable.

Most Wellness Coaches would agree that in order for their clients to make positive changes in their lives, clients need to open up about their challenges, fears, goals and successes. The sooner a client feels safe revealing these things, the sooner they will see results. How do you help your clients learn to trust you to make a big breakthrough together?

How to Build Trust and Create Change with Your Clients

Before a coach can find ways to help a client change patterns in their life, the coach needs to build a helping and caring relationship with their client. Clients need to know that their coach cares about them and their successes and has taken the time and effort to truly understand them.

Keep in mind that you may be the first person the client has met in a long time that truly listens to them without complaint and prejudice, and who can be trusted completely. Clients need to be able to trust that they won’t be judged for sharing their problems, or the factors that contribute to those challenges. The coach then needs to build trusting rapport. Once trust is built, your client is likely to feel more comfortable opening up about themselves.

Students of the IAWP’s Wellness Coach Certification program go through extensive training to learn how to build rapport in the early stages of a coach-and-client relationship. As a result, our coaches really know how to build trust with clients. Our students learn specific skills and tools to support their clients through the process of creating change for a more balanced life.

At the IAWP, we teach our students our proprietary coaching method called The Core Coaching Method (CCM). Through CCM, Wellness Coach Certification students practice these skills with their peer coach, in live coaching labs with the support of a Master Coach and even in their own personal lives. Because students have ample opportunities to practice their skills in a safe and supportive environment, by the time they graduate, they are super-skilled in how to support people well. IAWP’s training is specifically designed to help our students be very successful in coaching their clients.

Six Steps to Trust-Building in Every Wellness Coaching Session

Let’s take a look at just 6 of the trust-building techniques we teach here at the IAWP that allow you to begin improving your coaching skills now. Learning how to build trust with wellness coaching clients is an essential part of any Wellness Profession, and these 6 steps can help you build trust faster. Aspiring Wellness Coaches can practice these tips with family members and friends, or if you’re already a practicing Coach, you can use them with your current clients!

1. Create a Safe Space

Encourage your client to talk about themselves and let them share what they feel in a judge-free zone. Your clients must feel safe to tell you about failures and challenges, This allows that changes can be made to enable them to be successful. Make sure your client knows that all information shared is kept confidential.

2. Be a Guide rather than an Expert

Avoid being the “know-it-all” and allow your client to discover what works for them. Being a guide means holding clients’ hands through their journey, rather than forcing them to do things a certain way. Share information in a way that allows the client to learn new thought patterns while keeping the information at the clients’ level. Each client will be different, and you will need to know how to balance information to keep it from being either too elementary or over the client’s head.

3. Listen and Ask

Be more than just a good listener. Learn, through training, how to perceive and understand all aspects of communication. Improve your active listening skills during coaching sessions. If you find that you are generally a talkative person, practice focusing on your breath while your client shares. If the client has trouble sharing, ask questions to get them talking rather than chattering on to fill the gap.

4. Remember, It’s Their Time

It is important for you, as the coach, to help your client express their feelings without delving into your own personal feelings. This is not a time for you to get into your own individual dilemmas. While sharing personal stories can be helpful, divulging your personal problems should be saved for other relationships outside of coaching.

5. Learn Advanced Trust Building

Building trust with your wellness coaching clients isn’t just about what you say. Words are important, but non-verbal cues also help to build rapport. Posture, gestures, and listening all play a role in how your client experiences you as their coach. At the IAWP, we teach our students advanced trust-building techniques because we know it makes the difference between an average coach and an excellent one. You can start practicing one of these techniques, Mirroring, now….

6. Practice the Art of Mirroring

Mirroring is the process of subtly mimicking behavior during communication. People often use mirroring without even realizing it. It’s human nature to mimic each other’s speech or physical behaviors. We often mirror one another in our most intimate relationships because it makes us feel connected. Over time, groups of people begin to mirror one another without realizing it through speech and movement. Even though it’s a natural behavior, learning to develop your mirroring skills can be very valuable for building rapport with your clients. A few examples of mirroring include:

  • Standing or sitting the way your client is standing or sitting.

  • Folding your hands if your client’s hands are folded

  • Increasing/decreasing the speed of your speech

  • Repeating a phrase back to your client

  • Using the same words your client uses to describe things

Learning how to build trust with a client is essential to a successful experience for each of your clients. If you know how to build trust with clients quickly, your clients will make greater progress sooner. Take the time to practice your rapport and trust-building skills, and you’ll see the results in your relationships with your clients.

Now that you’ve learned 6 trust-building tips you can implement, either with your current clients or as an aspiring coach in your own relationships, we’d love to hear from you! What tips will you try out?

Love, Health, and Success,

Suzanne Monroe

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