Gaye Kuelsen, PCC • June 10, 2022 • 5 Minute Read
Cultivating Trust and Safety
You may be aware that the ICF recently announced that from 1st August 2022, any new applications for the ACC, PCC, and MCC will be assessed using the updated application pathways. As we move closer to using the Updated ICF Core Competencies model, this month we will focus on the fourth competency:
4. Cultivates Trust and Safety
Definition: Partners with the client to create a safe, supportive environment that allows the client to share freely. Maintains a relationship of mutual respect and trust.
1. Seeks to understand the client within their context which may include their identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs
With the advances in technology, our ability to easily connect with others across the globe is at an all-time high. Many of us now have a greater diversity with our clients, which requires us to be mindful and respectful of the uniqueness of each individual. One way to approach this is to pose questions that are more open and subtle. Instead of directly asking – Are you married / Do you have any children? – a more open question to understand the context of a client’s home life is – Who is at home with you? The client may state they live alone, or have the option to decide how much information they share with you. We need to be aware of our own biases and be conscious of any assumptions we may make regarding our clients. Also being aware that our clients may have different choices and/or freedoms in relation to how others are considered within their community, particularly regarding women, children and the elderly.
2. Demonstrates respect for the client’s identity, perceptions, style and language and adapts one’s coaching to the client
What is the definition of respect? According to the Oxford dictionary it is – having due regard for the wishes and the rights of others. One approach to demonstrate respect is to first listen to what the client is saying, then secondly respond appropriately, or pose your questions with curiosity to know more about the client. Being curious indicates total acceptance of who they are and their ideas and opinions. Also, curiosity and judgement are unable to co-exist. This approach cultivates trust and safety and ensures the coaching relationship has no negative impact on the client. The client is completely risk free to be their authentic selves.
3. Acknowledges and respects the client’s unique talents, insights and work in the coaching process
As a coach, acknowledging our clients is different from giving praise to other people in our lives. To effectively recognize our clients, be very specific with your observations and focus on their efforts rather than the outcome. If your client ran a marathon, focus not so much on the distance they covered but, make mention of their determination, persistence and commitment they possess to achieve such a remarkable goal. Keep in mind to match your acknowledgment with the tone, pace and energy of your client, and avoid an overly emotional reaction, compared with your client’s current state.
4. Shows support, empathy and concern for the client
An important supportive role as coach, is to hold the time and space for our client during a coaching session for them to reflect, explore and express their thoughts and ideas about their topic. When a client has shared an emotional experience, paraphrasing and reflecting back to the client is an ideal way to show your empathy and concern for their situation. Avoid making the assumption and replying with – I know how you feel. Instead, you may say something like – I’m sensing this is very challenging for you and it taking great courage for you to face this situation.
5. Acknowledges and supports the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs and suggestions
During the coaching conversation, maintaining the spotlight on our client, continues the work towards the client’s best interests. This also enables the enduring feeling of trust and safety to develop with our clients. As a result, this is the ultimate environment for our client to think and go inward. We partner with our client to think, reflect and express themselves. In this space of safety, choose questions to empower your clients to gain their own insights and so avoid trying to convince or consult on the outcome with your client.
When you get triggered during a coaching session, the spotlight, for a time moves away from your client. Do you have a process to quickly acknowledge and ‘park’ your triggered thoughts and response so you are able to revert your focus back to your client? Are you aware of what main topics do trigger you? Preparation and awareness here is key, to avoid being hijacked by your own triggers during a coaching conversation. Feel free to reach out if you need to delve further into your triggers.
6. Demonstrates openness and transparency as a way to display vulnerability and build trust with the client
Being open and transparent is one form of courageous coaching when you share an insight or observation, which may cause some contention in the coaching conversation. Always follow up your insight or observation with a question to invite the client’s thoughts – What comes to mind when you hear that? / What do you think? / What are your thoughts? Allow time for the client to think and respond, and of course, graciously accept if your insight is not met with agreement, or is completely wrong! Again, this is enabling the client to be risk free to be their authentic selves, even when their idea or opinion is different to yours. Being willing to be vulnerable with your client, nurtures the opportunity to continue to build trust within your coaching relationship.
Is your credential due for renewal soon, or are you close to submitting your application? If you need any mentoring support now or in the future, please reach out and connect.
I enjoy sharing these mentoring moments with you,