Developing trust with clients is essential for anyone working as a life coach. To cultivate a sense of trust is to build the foundation of any successful interpersonal relationship (Gorin, 2019). With life coaches, it’s important to establish trust, comfort, and openness, so that clients can feel confident enough to share their struggles and thoughts (Gorin, 2019).
Since the interactions between you and the client will focus largely on their personal and professional challenges—as well as the goals and aspirations they would like to accomplish—it’s important to ensure trust is established early on, and that confidentiality is respected (Whitehead, 2015). Here are some ways life coaches can build trust with clients after completing their training.
Remember That Trust with Clients Is to Be Earned, Not Expected Immediately
When coaching new clients, it’s important to observe their emotions while meeting them for the first time. They may be feeling vulnerable, as well as embarrassment, guilty, or even ashamed while discussing their goals or worries (Gorin, 2019). Therefore, it’s of extreme importance for anyone wanting to become a certified life coach to establish genuine trust with the client, since it must be earned and worked on as soon as both parties become acquainted with each other (Gorin, 2019).
Trust is also an important element for the coach, as they will need to be assured that the client takes the sessions seriously, and that they are committed to working towards overcoming their challenges and reaching their goals (Whitehead, 2015). Ultimately, coaching is a process built on openness and transparency. Therefore, both sides will share responsibility for the relationship, which fosters equality between the two parties (Odidison, 2015).
Benevolence Can Help Coaches Establish Trust with Clients
An efficient interaction between the client and coach is based on trust between both parties. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to show kindness to clients. A study from the University of Salzburg in Austria researched how coaches could communicate a sense of benevolence to clients, with results indicating that this strategy can help fulfill the client’s need for autonomy (Schiemann, Mühlberger, Schoorman, & Jonas, 2019).
The study breaks trustworthiness down to three specific aspects: benevolence, integrity, and ability. In this case, benevolence is defined by how the trustee (in this case, the coach) expresses a caring, positive and valuing attitude, while integrity represents their authenticity and honesty, and ability represents their competencies. While the latter two can be established quickly, benevolence takes more time to develop for the client (Schiemann, Mühlberger, Schoorman, & Jonas, 2019). With coaching specifically, benevolence is important to express to help the client develop self-determination, and also to have a positive influence on the client’s need for autonomy (Schiemann, Mühlberger, Schoorman, & Jonas, 2019).
Once You Become a Certified Life Coach, Set Expectations and Avoid Judgment
Students in a life coach training course will learn how to help clients set goals and overcome barriers preventing them from reaching those goals, as well as teach them certain life skills (“Rhodes Wellness College: Life Coach Diploma”). One of the most important parts of this is to set clear and healthy expectations with the client, as the relationship between the two of you is most efficient when you both understand what you expect from one another (Gorin, 2019).
Another facet of establishing trust with clients is to make them feel at home, and comfortable enough to be themselves around you without judgment (Gorin, 2019). The coach needs to remain conscious of how they react to their clients. During sessions, coaches must remain honest as well as professional (Cohen, 2017). Furthermore, it’s of great importance for the coach to support the client’s desire for autonomy by acknowledging their views and feelings while giving positive feedback and using neutral language (Schiemann, Mühlberger, Schoorman, & Jonas, 2019).
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Gorin, F. (2019, June 20). How To Build Trust With New Clients. Retrieved from https://www.lifepurposeinstitute.com/how-to-build-trust-with-new-clients/.
Whitehead, J. (2015, September 18). What is Trust in the Coaching Relationship? Retrieved from https://johnkwhitehead.ca/what-is-trust-in-the-coaching-relationship/.
Schiemann, S. J., Mühlberger, C., Schoorman, F. D., & Jonas, E. (2019). Trust me, I am a caring coach: The benefits of establishing trustworthiness during coaching by communicating benevolence. Journal of Trust Research, 9(2), 164–184. doi: 10.1080/21515581.2019.1650751
Rhodes Wellness College: Life Coach Diploma. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2019, from https://www.rhodescollege.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/life-coach-diploma-program.pdf.
Odidison, J. (2015, July 15). Coaching Helps Build Trust: Interpersonal Wellness Blog. Retrieved from https://interpersonalwellness.com/trust/.
Cohen, J. (2017, October 3). How To Establish Trust and Intimacy as a Coach. Retrieved from http://thewisdomtree.academy/en/how-coaches-establish-trust-and-intimacy/.