Coaching through trust crises

The coaching described below involves situations where people are no longer able to solve an open conflict, and where two entities experience great tension. The situation may have been long-standing, emerged recently, or occurred after a period of good cooperation.

We see these situations as manifestations of a trust crisis. These crises create tensions and a high level of stress, and call for prompt actions. They carry a sense of urgency.

Whereas the aim of mediation is for two parties to come to an agreement, our coaching approach is a paradigm shift. It focuses on establishing a new relationship based on trust, making sure it is long-lasting. The goal is not to revert to a previous state, but to find a new way.

Coaching through trust crises is brief, because it focuses on the core of the crisis, which, by its very nature, is limited in time. This often consists of coaching on an as-needed basis to support transitional, complex or difficult periods. Coming out of a trust crisis is always a transformative experience. Our coaching approach enables the emergence of creative and unexpected responses that only a crisis can lead to.

I- Trust dynamics

When trust has been damaged or lost, the goal is to bring it back in a lasting way.
Five challenges emerge on the trust-building path, to both test and shape it:


In business settings, there are many scenarios where some or all of these challenges are needed to allow the various elements that shape organizations to operate efficiently, for example: executive committees, creative spaces, decision-making and steering centers, crisis units, etc.
For example, the protagonists do not want to see each other anymore, confront their points of view, or make any effort to be involved; they refuse to take their responsibilities or even recognize any value in “the other,” and so on. Sometimes, too, they perceive everything as a whole; they are no longer able to identify the source of the difficulties, and they feel resigned: “this is no longer possible.”

II- Our coaching system

Our system is a matrix that can be customized to each situation.
It is based on the following preferences:

1- Two distinct spaces:
one for individual coaching, the other for relationship coaching.

a) Individual coaching:

  • Individual coaching begins the process. Before preparing to coach for the relationship between the protagonists, working with individuals aims to defuse tensions and to establish trust in an environment that is often full of paranoia and accusations.
    The individual space allows for putting labels on what is happening, without judgment. Within a protective structure, each individual gets ready to meet the other the way he wants to be, and with his own intention.
  • During the individual coaching, each person explores the five trust challenges with his coach. By relying on what occurred during each relationship coaching session, the coachee focuses on his own trust-building.
  • Individual sessions also help get rid of recurrent doubts about the process, and spot and defuse potential conflicts.

b) Relationship coaching:

These are sessions when all participants get together – protagonists and coaches – to move forward with the dynamics of trust-building in the best possible space.
When the protagonists’ intentions are clear, they meet four times, exploring one of the four challenges at a time: Confrontation, Commitment, Responsibility and Recognition.

  • All relationship coaching sessions, especially the first one, create a space to transition from the implicit to the explicit.
  • To coach a relationship, both the system created by the protagonists and the larger system of the organization to which they belong are taken into account.
  • These sessions are also a decision-making space, with individual and group commitments and action plans.
  • Finally, they create a safe space in which to experience trust-building.
    Little by little, trust is supported.

This system involves a minimum of six individual coaching sessions and four relationship coaching sessions.
The system includes a limited number of meetings, but each session is long enough to foster new ideas and offer a different perception of time when protagonists are under pressure.
for more details go to “modeling”, then “Coaching through trust crisis”