Building Trust with your Coaching Clients

When working with clients in any coaching capacity building trust is key. Research shows this time and time again. But how do you do it? There is no magical formula that will immediately build a trusting relationship. However read on for show ideas on ways how you an support your coaching relationship turn into a trusting partnership.


Research shows time and time again that the most important element that leads to the success of a coaching relationship is the alliance between coach and client. It’s that special relationship, built on trust, autonomy and respect that is foundation of this professional partnership. 

This is the foundation of transformational coaching, whether you’re a life coach, executive coach or work in any other niche. This ability to create a trusting relationship with your client is paramount, irrespective of your coaching style. 

So how do you build trust with your client? There’s a few ways that we can suggest:

1. Always be genuine. This is a key part of any ICF training programme – the ability to balance working within the coaching ‘container’ whilst at the same time being genuine. The client is not talking to a robot who has been trained in some fabulous model! Instead be authentically you and stay cognisant of how you can work within the ICF Competencies and Code of Ethics.

2. Don’t listen to answer. Listen to understand and to build a common ground. At times coaches might fall into the trap of listening to find the next golden question. However this is a tricky approach as it can lead you to focus too much on the question and less so on the person. The client will notice this and your amazing question will fall flat! Listen intently to your client to show them your understanding (and once again mean it! Be curious and inquisitive).

Are you looking to become a Professional ICF Coach? 
We have number of ICF Coach Training Certification including our Diploma in Integrative Coaching and the Advanced Diploma in Integrative Coaching.

Become also offers bespoke mentoring programmes to help you develop your coaching skills. Our mentoring is available on a 1-1 basis or as a group.

3. Remember that trust is a two way thing. This is not just about your client trusting you, but you also trusting your client. Do you do a lot of check-ins with your client? If so, does that show trust? Do you believe in the client’s vision? Do you show judgement (consciously or more subtly) towards the client’s goals and aspiration? One thing that is key for any coaching diploma studies is this ability to be non-judgemental. 

4. Show empathy but don’t cheerlead. This can be a fine line between the two. You want to support your client and encourage them but equally you don’t want to patronise them. Coaching practice is built on an adult to adult conversation that is respectful to both parties.

5. Contract and stick to your agreements. Agreements happen at various times across a coaching session. Make sure that you spend enough time working with your client around those agreements, e.g. how long the session will be for, what the client hopes to achieve within the session, contracting on ways the client wants to work. And once agreements are set, make sure that you stick to them as well!


A word of caution. Building trust is not something that happens instantly or by following a set of tips. Of course there are ways for developing trusting behaviours however don’t let these (yet again!) get in the way of partnering with the client. That is the most important thing – metaphorically walk alongside your client and you’ll notice how you’ll inevitably build that trust.

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