Are You Safe To Talk To?

In the last post, I shared some pointers to choose a good coach.   What are some ingredients that must be place for you to feel safe to talk to the coach?  In other words, when is the coaching environment a conducive one where you will feel comfortable without fear of backlash or being criticized/insulted? Or when you do not feel threatened emotionally or even physically?

In my experience as a coach, this safe environment is a must, for without it, I will never get my clients to go deep into their issues including shadow  issues.  In reality, a safe environment that allows people to open up is not confined to a coaching relationship.  All people, whether they are managers with employees, parents with children, religious leaders with community members and even the police with suspects, need to have the ability to create an environment for authenticity and truth to prevail.

So how do we do that?  Here are some ways to make people feel safe to open themselves up to you.

  1. ACCEPTANCE.  Accept people as they are.  They do not need to create a persona to relate to others within a community or relationship, nor hide parts of themselves to appear more successful or be more acceptable.  They also do not need to fear who they are or what they say would be judged.
  2. RESPECT Treat them as credible and worth a ‘second look.  Honor each other’s choices and words.
  3. CONFIDENTIALITY.   Unless they want to share with others, what are said in a coaching conversation should be kept in a tight lid.
  4. CLEAR BOUNDARIES.  Set and agree on clear boundaries and keep them.
  5. HEALTHY CONFLICT.  In that spirit, both of you can talk about anything that is not working or  does not feel right.  The goal of the conversation is to make it right.
  6. OPENNESS.  Help the client not to be reactive but open to whatever that is brought up in the conversation.  Thus, he or she does not fear that you will be shocked, fearful, hurt or disgusted by what is being shared.


Consider your relationships.

  • Which ones are considered safe for you?
  • Which ones are not?
  • What are the differences between the two?
  • What might be done to make the “unsafe” relationship safe for you?
  • What can you do to make people feel safe when talking to you?