Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Developing trust

Why trust is important, and advice on developing trust with your students.

Why trust is important

Normally students will only be willing to disclose their thoughts and feelings about sensitive matters to a personal tutor or other staff member where a relationship of trust exists.

In this context ‘sensitive matters’ includes academic issues, such as assessment and dissatisfaction with courses and subjects, as well as more personal concerns.

Trust building is perhaps the most important initial thing that you can do to encourage your students to seek you out in times of difficulty.

Advice on developing a trusting relationship

Building trust starts at the very first meeting.

Trust is more likely to be engendered if the student feels at ease; this is more likely to be the case if the atmosphere is informal.

Other suggestions that may help build mutual trust are to:

  • be welcoming
  • be informal
  • be informative
  • assure confidentiality
  • explain your availability, including who students should contact if you are not available
  • invite further contact

Cumulatively none of these items should take more than a minute or two.