some text

Heart Coach Institute

Heart Coach Institute Director of Education

Gaye Kuelsen, PCC • April 4, 2023 • 3 Minute Read

PCC Marker 4- Cultivating Trust

Competency 4: Cultivates Trust and Safety 

We all have different ways on how we build trust with those around us, and with our clients.  Similarly, our clients may have unique requirements for them to feel safe in their environment. Here the PCC Markers provide guidance on some universal behaviours that when incorporated into our coaching relationships, build the trust and safety we both need.

4.1: Coach acknowledges and respects the client’s unique talents, insights and work in the coaching process. 

My clients constantly surprise me with their insights and wisdom.  The learning and discovery of ourselves goes both ways for me, as I often realise something new about myself after hearing an intuitive comment from a client. Have you ever experienced the parallel that your client’s topics sometimes coincide with the same issues you are currently dealing with? Unknowingly, our clients may be saying the words, we need to hear, and can further consider at a later time.  I firmly believe in the saying that we are all doing the best with what we’ve got.  This is important to keep in mind, and to acknowledge your client’s efforts and progress, however slow it may seem.  Their progress may ebb and flow like the ocean tide upon the beach.

4.2: Coach shows support, empathy or concern for the client.

Recently, I was listening to a coaching conversation, and the client was sharing that they had had a very difficult and challenging week.  The coach replied – I’m sorry about that.  The client continued to share other difficulties and the coach again responded with being sorry.  This really struck me that the coach as taking some responsibility for the client’s situation, and moving the focus of the conversation onto the coach.  My approach would be to avoid the expression of being sorry.  Instead, ask questions, so the client can further explore or become aware of their situation.  When a client has a difficult week, ask – What made this situation so challenging for you? / What would you do differently next time?  These questions ensure the focus remains on the client, and keeps the conversation on track.

4.3: Coach acknowledges and supports the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs or suggestions.

As we are all different, and experience life through our own individual lens, sometimes we can lose track of what our client is sharing, and get lost and uncertain with their thought processes.  In this space of uncertainty, having techniques to guide the conversation back in to mutual understanding ensures you both stay on the same path.  Asking questions to clarify or confirm your interpretation is often our most common strategy.

What do you do when a client changes topic mid-conversation?  One flexible approach, is to share this observation with your client.  “I notice that Topic B is very challenging for you, and can you share with me the connection to Topic A that we started with?”  Your client may proceed to explain the connection, or accept they have gone off on a tangent.  You may then invite them to decide which path they’d prefer to explore.

4.4: Coach partners with the client by inviting the client to respond in any way to the coach’s contributions and accepts the client’s response. 

How do you know when to share an observation or an insight with your client?  Often, I allow the conversation to flow, and if there is an opening for my contribution, then I go ahead.  Sometimes the client proceeds to another aspect of their topic and my insight is either no longer relevant, or would take the conversation backwards, I let it go.

How comfortable do you feel when you are wrong?  This can sometimes trigger us, when our client does not agree or appreciate our contribution?  What do you do when your client has judged that you are wrong?  As I mentioned in a previous edition – Curiosity suspends judgement.  So be curious, and ask questions to better understand your client’s point of view.  Being curious, will dampen down any uncomfortable feelings that may arise for you.

Sharing these mentoring moments with you,


Heart Coaching Blogs       •       Heart Coach Institute       •       Heart-Centered Life Coach Training