As a coach, how do I build a good relationship with my client?

Having a good relationship between the coach and client is fundamental to the coaching process’s success (Jowett, Kanakoglou, & Passmore, 2012). Since the coach and client are in a relationship, their social situation, including thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, will affect the other member. This relationship is seen as interdependent. 

In the 3 + 1Cs Relationship Model in Executive Coaching, the Cs are: 

  • Closeness - the degree of affective connectedness between the coach and client.
  • Commitment - the intention of both members to remain in the relationship over time. The members see a future in the relationship and a sense of benefit if invested in it.
  • Complementarity - reciprocal cooperation
  • Co-orientation - refers to the interdependence of the first three Cs (closeness, commitment, and complementarity). This also includes the consensus or common ground on how the members view the relationship related to the three Cs. 

This phenomenological study (Jowett et al., 2012) presents a content analysis (p. 189) of the 3 + 1Cs. This content can show how the coaches were able to achieve each element.

  • Closeness - consisted of intimacy, respect, liking, and trust. Though it is a professional relationship, the emotional bond helped create a safe environment for the client to thrive.
  • Commitment - achieved through motivation, passion, willingness, and investment. The part of both the coach and client increased the effectiveness of the relationship.
  • Complementarity - included emotional and instructional support as well as transparent and reciprocal leading and following roles. 
  • Co-Orientation - achieved through self-disclosure, open channels of communication, acceptance, and agreement of goals. This leads to shared knowledge and understanding in the relationship. 

The authors found many associations between the elements highlighting the interconnectivity of the constructs. If one of the elements was lacking, it would affect the others. These components are essential because the working relationship must be effective for the coaching process to be successful. 


Jowett, S., Kanakoglou, K., & Passmore, J. (2012). The application of the 3 + 1Cs relationship model in executive coaching, Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 64(3), 183-197.