Trust - A Core Coaching Competency - Virginia B. Berger


Trust - A Core Coaching Competency

Members and guests at The Professional Coaches Alliance meeting in April engaged actively and comfortably with presenter Charles Feltman, author, coach, and facilitator trainer of leaders for over twenty-seven years. Addressing the topic “Coaching for Trust at Work: Supporting your clients in Becoming Intentional Trust Builders,” Feltman emphasized that trust is the foundation for everything we do in our work environment.

Feltman’s definition of trust is “choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s action.” When you trust a person, you risk putting this valuable item or idea in his or her hands. He asked, “Why would someone take that risk?” Some of the answers from participants were-
• to create a sense of connection with a tribe or group;
• to receive validation;
• to share the load with another; or
• to get support.

In order to make wise choices about whom to trust and to what extent, Feltman uses a framework. Trust needs to be extended to people in each of these four domains:

Care- They have your interests in mind as well as their own;
Sincerity- They are honest and truthful and have integrity;
Reliability- They keep commitments;
Competence- They have the knowledge and expertise that they say they do.

This framework, which is in his book, The Thin Book of Trust, 2nd Edition, can be used with a new client when talking about establishing trust. It’s also helpful when evaluating how coaching is going. Feltman suggested asking yourself some questions first, such as “Do I really care? Am I keeping my commitments? And Am I showing up as competent?” Then you might ask the client, “I wonder what I could do differently to increase your level of safety or comfort?”

Trust is a two-way street. We not only extend trust to others but also must be perceived as trustworthy. Once we have a client’s trust, we need to be willing to risk going deeper and ask challenging questions.

When someone does not seem to trust you, Feltman recommended that you first clarify the value of having them trust you. Then, when in a mood of curiosity and caring, you might say, “These are the behaviors I notice. Would you be willing to give me some feedback?”

We can learn, develop, and deepen trust. Feltman ended with a poignant quote from Walter Anderson, "We're never so vulnerable as when we trust someone - but, paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.”

Submitted by,

Virginia B. Berger

The Baby Boomer Retirement Coach
[email protected]