First Among Masteries

Ed Britton

The first among the masteries is Trust. More fully, “Establishing
and maintaining a relationship of trust.”

Trust is the essential underpinning of every coaching conversation. It is a
paired virtue – honesty on the left hand and competency on the right.
When a surgeon recommends your appendix removed, you trust that they are honest
about the necessity and not simply after the fee for a procedure. Further, once
you are satisfied with their honesty, you must be certain about their competence
before committing to the operation. You want to feel assured that you will still
be alive afterward!

In some cultures, provided with the right conditions, people trust relatively
quickly. In others, trust must be painstakingly earned. In either case, trust
is a delicate and fragile matter.

The deep conversations of coaching can occur only in a high trust relationship.
Trust is a complex perception involving cultural and interpersonal factors that
vary from one circumstance and one individual to the next. A coachee might consider
a coach’s formal education, specialized training and certification, relevant
experience, age, gender, social, cultural and racial background. More personal
factors will come into play, such as familiarity, proximity, even the mode of
coaching. A prospective coachee might survey a coach’s online presence,
references, previous clients and testimonials. Such small clues as the background
of the room viewed through a webcam will contribute to the development or loss
of trust.

During the coaching session, the coachee will listen to tone, pace and body
language. He or she will perceive confidence and empathy. Presence and active
listening during the coaching session are clues for trust, as are the coach’s
ability to hear, understand, reflect and empower expression. They will be more
trusting when the coach demonstrates meaningful support and resourcefulness.

After the coaching session, coachees respond to continued presence and interaction.
Coaches who demonstrate presence, support and assistance between calls will
be appreciated, and barriers will come down.

“There is one thing … which, if removed, will destroy the most
powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy,
the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character,
the deepest love … that one thing is trust.”
Stephen M.R. Covey

The IAC Masteries Ebook contains a concise approach to establishing, maintaining
and perceiving trust in a coaching conversation. Being deeply trustworthy is
more than commitment to a principle of morality. It involves practicing a set
of skills over an extended period. It demands study and meditation, making mistakes
and trying again. It requires the forgiveness of others and the forgiveness
of self, letting go of pride and embracing courage, self-love and love for others.
Earning the trust of others requires that we trust them, too.

Consider the list of effective behaviors in the IAC Masteries Ebook for establishing
and maintaining trust: engaging active listening, acknowledging our own humanity
and limitations, (i.e. humility and vulnerability), being alert to fear and
doubt, giving assurance, uncovering dreams, asking probing questions and showing
integrity in words and actions. And do it all in 30 minutes! That takes practiced

Finally, allow me a closing word about practicing trust in both private and
professional life. The foundational IAC principle of ‘living the masteries’
obligates us to infuse not only our coaching sessions, but all of our conversations,
indeed our whole lives, with the principles and behaviors of trust. Trust is
the acknowledgement of integrity in intention, word and action. Trust makes
the whole become real, outcomes more certain and relationships genuine.

Live the masteries.

1. The International Association of Coaching. The IAC Coaching Masteries.
Retrieved from

2. Covey, S.M.R. 2006. The speed of trust: The one thing that changes everything.
Free Press a Division of Simon & Schuster, New York, NY.

Ed Britton 
Britton coaches expats and their families who live and work internationally
as they adjust to unique and sometimes challenging cultural settings.
He lives in Xiamen, Fujian province of China, just west of Taiwan,
with his wife and two teen-aged sons. They are originally from Vancouver
Island, Canada.

Scroll to Top

IAC Login