4 Build Tutoring Relationships Based on Trust and Expertise

Communication and learning are interconnected. Without good communication in the tutoring process, there is little learning. The two key components of communication are:

  1. The content of the message.
  2. The emotional impact of the message on the receiver.

Active listening opens the door to good communication that has a positive emotional response. We need to first understand what the tutee is saying and then for the tutee to understand what we are saying. Empathy is the capacity to understand and share the feelings of another. When you are empathetic to you tutee you understand their feelings without letting them take over the situation.

Expert Communication Activity:

What strategies do you use to ensure that you understand what your Tutee is telling you? What do you do with this information in your tutoring sessions?

Give examples of how you connect with your Tutees when you are working with them.







Building Trust

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”
David O. McKay

Building tutoring relationships with others can be complex and relies on the element of trust. The key to building and maintaining trust is being trustworthy. When you want to increase trust, increase your trustworthiness.

  • Trusting Behaviour – The willingness to risk beneficial or harmful consequences by making oneself vulnerable to other group members.
  • Trustworthy Behaviour – The willingness to respond to another’s risk taking in a way that ensures that the other person will experience beneficial consequences.

Part of being trustworthy is having expertise in the subject that you are tutoring. You became a tutor based on this type of expertise. You continue to develop as a tutor by maintaining and expanding your expertise and by being trustworthy. Expressing acceptance, support, and cooperativeness as well as reciprocating information and disclosures appropriately are key aspects of being trustworthy in relationships with others.

The Emotional Bank Account

If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve in the account. Your trust towards me becomes higher. If I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, failing to keep commitments, betraying your trust, eventually my emotional bank account becomes overdrawn.

Trust in Action

When trust is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective. I can even make mistakes and that trust level will compensate for it. When trust is low, communication is difficult, and slow. I measure every word. I insist on memos. I won’t cooperate.

You can think of this as a “bank account” in which you make deposits that show that you are trustworthy.

Major Deposits in Emotional Bank Accounts

  • Effective Communication
  • Understand the individual
  • Attend to the little things (courtesies)
  • Keep commitments
  • Clarify expectations
  • Apologize sincerely when you make a withdrawal
  • Show Personal Integrity


Integrity supports trust. It includes but goes beyond honesty. Honesty is telling the truth. Integrity is keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. This is a key element of tutoring.

Trust Activity:

List a few ways that you build trust as a tutor.

How I am Trustworthy

How I am Trusting
















































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