Trust and Intimacy

Trust and Intimacy

Lucky for me I have found a career in coaching where I am supposed to do the thing that I love most in the world. Building trusting and intimate relationships. Not only because I’m an extrovert (that helps to be sure) but as a human I am hungry for authentic connection. As a coach with the International Coach Federation this skill is a “core competency” one in a list of eleven. 

3. Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client—Ability to create a safe, supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and trust.” 

My background is in Psychology and Counseling. One theorist that I always was drawn to was Carl Rogers. Specifically, he taught the concept of Unconditional Positive Regard. It is the basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what they say or do. 

I’m convinced that regardless of where we apply this in life, we can create progress. If I apply this concept in therapy I am creating a safe environment for healing. If I use it in coaching I create safety and a space for growth and exploration. If we know how to build trust and intimacy with our colleagues we will also see cool things happen in our workplaces. 

Part of what allows for the growth of trust and intimacy (not just in coaching) is holding to a belief in the other person’s brilliance, creativity and resilience. I hold the other as capable and choose not to judge. I choose not to think that they should be doing things my way or see them as someone that needs to be fixed or rescued. 

This is so much easier in our professional relationships. When we bring this in to family members, especially ones that we have pain and conflict with it gets harder. The more we have had to work through hard things with people the deeper the trust and intimacy can grow, depending on if both parties handle the tough spots respectfully. 

What are some great ways to practice growing this skill? 

1. Choosing to respect the other person’s opinions, viewpoints and choices even if you disagree or would act very differently. Respecting simply acknowledges that for who they are and how they see the world, their opinion is as valid as yours. 

2. Honor your commitments and promises to the other person. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Be open and honest with them and err on the side of under-promising and over-delivering. 

3. Celebrating with them what they consider as success or accomplishments. These may be things that seem small to you but noticing what they mean to the other person and intentionally pausing to acknowledge is a great way to get closer to someone and build trust. 

4. Respect boundaries - theirs and your own. Being true to who you are also builds trust with others - they know what they can count on you for. 

5. If you are wanting to tackle deeper or more personal topics in a relationship practice asking first and checking on the comfort level of the other person before presuming. 

Few things are more rewarding than putting work in to having better relationships! 

What skills and practices do you have that helped you build healthy relationships? 

Which work relationships do you want to strengthen? 

Until next time, 


Marilyn Orr, MA, CEC, PCC is an Executive and Leadership Coach with Capacity Building Coaching, holding her Professional Certified Coach designation with the International Coach Federation.

Marilyn provides professional coaching for executive and business leaders, mentor coaching for coaches, and leadership development support in the form of coaching skills training and soft-skills development.

Marilyn is author of everyday resiliency workbook “How Absorbent Are Your Shocks?”, available on Amazon. Subscribe to “Marilyn’s Musings” twice monthly blogposts for more leadership and professional development content.

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