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Trustworthiness and Coaching

In a very interesting HBR article by David DeSteno, he challenged our ability to assess “trustworthiness” and claimed that, in general, we place too much emphasis on reputation and perceived confidence.  We have all had the experience of going into a high end store and being wooed by a very confident sales person that made us feel special.  Yet something about it did not feel right though we could not quite place our finger on it; perhaps it was trustworthiness (or lack of).

 

DeSteno contends that there are four factors to consider when assessing trustworthiness.

14815619_blog1. Integrity can vary – just because somebody was honest and fair in the past does not mean they will be in the future, because circumstances change.

2. Power does corrupt – research from Paul Piff at Berkeley suggests that increasing status and power go hand in hand with decreasing honesty and reliability.

3. Confidence often masks incompetence – people can be lured by a false confidence so it is important to ensure it can be backed up and demonstrated.

4. It’s OK to trust your gut – although I have been a strong proponent of “in God we trust, all others bring data” there is great validity to use your intuition.  However it’s advisable to use it in tandem with the above.

 

So how does all of this play into the coaching process?  Interestingly I am not viewing this from the perspective of you selecting the right clients to work with.  On the contrary, I am advocating that this might well be how potential clients are viewing you.  Trustworthiness is a key to a successful coaching engagement.  Relative to each of the above, and though it may seem obvious, they are worth a little further elaboration.

1. Ensure you stay absolutely consistent and do not waver relative to integrity or you’ve just lost a client and potential referrals.

2. As your business expands and you take on bigger clients, don’t get carried away and remember where you came from.

3. Rather than exude confidence, be empathetic.  This helps the client focus on them rather than on you, and not feel inferior.

4. Trusting your gut is an important coaching skill but use it carefully and test it relative to the facts.

 

Trustworthiness is at the core of getting clients and also maintaining them.  This is not about confidentiality although that is very important.  Rather it’s about the quality of conversations, the willingness to trust the coaching process and ultimately the courage to face unchartered waters.  You must be able to trust your coach!

About Bill Sex

Bill Sex is President of New England Coaching and specializes in supporting personal, professional and organizational advancement with specific emphasis on coaching skills, emotional intelligence and employee engagement / motivation.

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