Building Trust in a Career Coaching relationship – Part 3


Here is the third and final part of understanding The Trust Equation.  (Parts 1 and 2 appear in our earlier blogs.)



Now for the numbers:

Stating the obvious, new clients should have lower numbers than existing clients.

In the new client case we might rate the client’s initial perception of your credibility as a 6 (above average) on a scale of 1 to 10, probably based on reputation and the slight experience with Jennifer. Reliability, which typically takes longer to establish might be somewhere around 3, and intimacy, which would not be far along at this point might be a 3. Self-orientation would be high since in sales situations we typically believe the other party is looking after #1. So the self-orientation score might be an 8. Low self-orientation is very rarely the starting assumption.


12/8 = 1.5

So with most new clients we have lots of work to do in the trust area.

With existing clients the score usually looks more like this:

Credibility = 7

Reliability = 8

Intimacy = 5

Self-orientation = 4



Perfection would be a score of 30. You’ll never get there though you should try.

A more realistic goal is between 12 and 20. Remember the score changes as the relationship and the type of projects change. Also, remember that with intimacy, the client may limit how close you get so your score may never be above average. The most important area to focus on is self-orientation.

For example, let’s say you have a good client and you see the opportunity to pitch a new project to the client. This new project would involve new people in an area you haven’t worked in before with that client. You boldly ask for the new project without setting the stage in terms of the client’s best interest. The trust equation of the existing relationship is a 10 but let’s look at how pitching this new project this way would affect the relationship.

Credibility:    4            The current account service person’s credibility is low because she has to bring someone new into the relationship. The new person’s credibility is only gotten from the current account service person’s testimonial, whose motives may seem mixed.

Reliability:    2            No track record regarding new area or new person

Intimacy:       3            Broadened agenda without involving the client. No questions asked, no real discussion of the issue, just a big pitch.

Self-orientation: 8      All the talk is about what we can do for the client, no indication of a focus on the client’s perspective or personal issues.

Trust score = 1.13


So you can see how quickly a good client can be lost if you take your eye off the trust ball.

On the other hand if trust is well built…

  1. The client comes to rely on you for advice in broader areas beyond your base technical expertise
  2. The client understands the value you provide and doesn’t focus as much on price (trust and profitability go hand in hand)
  3. You are given greater leeway to make mistakes (not careless errors but honest mistakes)
  4. The client will give you a more complete picture of their true situation
  5. The client will refer you to other potential clients


I hope this blog will help you understand more about Trust in a Coaching relationship and the Trust Equation.  For more information email us at or call us on 0845 0035.

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