March 17, 2023

Trust in Coaching-- read the guest blog by Manuela Tischler

What is trust in coaching? Why is it important? What different kinds oftrust are there? Please read a guest blog by Manuela Tischler:

Since I have been a trust researcher for quite a while, now as being aSolution Focused coach, often the following question pops up in my mind: Whichrole plays trust in Solution Focused coaching practice? Of course, there aremany parameters that influence the quality and success of a coachingrelationship. But there are only a few, that are essential for a well-working relationshipbetween client and coach. From my point of view, one of these is trust.

First, I would like to share adefinition of trust by Charles Feltman (2008), that is quite helpful to betterunderstand what it means to trust. Feltman defines trust as choosing to riskmaking something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.

For establishing a trustingcoaching relationship, coach and client have to trust one another. But in whateach of them has to trust differs slightly.

Where the client has to trust in:

- the coach as a person (that meanshis/her personality, behavior, mindset etc.), that the client can show up asher/his true self and hold nothing back.

- the ethical practice of the coach(i.e. confidentiality) and her/his “professional competencies”, like PiotrSztompka (1999) would call it.

- (Solution Focused) coaching as atype of conversation in general, that it is helpful to find the solutions aclient is looking for and solve her/his problems.

On the other side the SolutionFocused coach has to trust in:

- the coaching-process in general,especially in the usefulness of partnering, the client centeredness, in notknowing or not needing to know (learners` attitude/curiosity), etc..

- the abilities of the client,especially in their ability to adapt and figure things out.

- their competencies as a SolutionFocused coach (“coaching with confidence”). One of these competencies can bethe ability as a coach to adapt. That can mean to trust in the possibility tosort things out together with the client, even so the conversation goes notideally. Other important competencies as a coach are for sure the ability to befully present, listen actively and create an intimate and open space as well asasking powerful questions.

- the confidentiality of theclient, meaning that the client shares no personal/critical information aboutyou, that you shared with the client during a conversation.

Next to knowing in what coach andclient need to trust, it is also interesting to explore how trust is created ina coaching relationship. Usually, we don’t reflect on the existence of trust ina conversation, we just feel it when it’s there and miss it, when it’s not.That’s also the reason, why Martin Endreß states that the default mode of trustis the “implicit mode”. For a coaching-relationship is true, that:

- Trust is something created ininteraction between coach and client. This reciprocity is a core characteristicof trust. The first step to establish a trusting coaching relationship can beto present your interaction partner a leap of faith. That means, that you makesomething important to you vulnerable to the actions of your conversationpartner (see definition of trust by Feltman). I.e. as a coach, you could sharea personal information about yourself with your client. And in the followingcoaching conversations trust continuously grows, conversation by conversation.Following Martin Endreß, this is „process-based“ (Martin Endreß 2002) trustbuilding.

- Another way a trust basedrelationships can be established is "charateristic-based" (MartinEndreß 2002). That means, that the interaction partners notice some equalcharacteristics at one other that make them feel more familiar with each other.This can be i.e. the sex, the race, the cultural or the social background.Besides background information about the family status, private andprofessional experiences as well as certain personality traits (i.e. moreintrovert/extrovert, more rational/emotional) can be moments in that trustingrelationships are built and deepened.

- Finally, institutional indicatorscan mitigate trust, such as certificates, accreditations, or memberships inprofessional societies, to name just a few of them.

To close this post, I would like toshare some ideas to the question, what we as coaches can learn from theseinsights for our coaching practice.

- It can be a good thing to sharesome background information/experiences with our clients, because that mighthelp the client to trust us more easily. Given that, the client can speak morefreely and be their true self, which makes it likely that the coaching sessionwill be more valuable to the client.

- It is such a precious gift, whenwe as coaches fully trust in the ability of our clients to figure things out bythemselves. This experience of being trusted by the coach, positivelyinfluences the client’s trust in themselves and their abilities to solveproblems on their own.

That brings me to the conclusion,that trust is fundamental for a meaningful and productive coaching relationship.

I am looking forward to yourperspective on the role of trust in solution focused coaching practice. Kindregards, Manuela.

If you are interested in exploringtrust in action, jump into the deep end and come to one of our free meetups andexchanges!


Sztompka, Piotr (1999): Trust. ASociological Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Feltman, Charles (2008): The ThinBook of Trust: An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work, Thin Bookpublishing company.

Endreß, Martin (2002): Vertrauen,Bielefeld: transcript.

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