Restoring Trust

We build leaders and transform organizations!

Restoring Trust

You’ve heard this truth:  It takes a lot to earn trust,
but little to lose it.

Any misstep – a breach of confidence, not showing up, a so-called joke – can turn a trusting relationship into one of uncertainty and skepticism.  Unaddressed, that bond breaks and mistrust redirects the relationship.

So here’s the big – though, perhaps, unpopular – question:

Who is the person in your life – at work, at home or otherwise –
who trusts you less than they used to because of something you’ve done?

Just in case your mind named a person and quickly jumped to the story behind the scenes – why it happened, who was involved, all of that mental chatter – let it go.  Your intent isn’t at issue here.  Your impact is.  You’ve lost some of his or her trust.

Do you want to restore it?  Would a return to trust benefit either or both of you?  Let’s say your answer to both questions is Yes. There are some key things you have to do:

  • Acknowledge the breach and do it soon.
    Don’t cringe. You may have to muster some courage and endure feeling a bit exposed, but that’s better than having your weakness for addressing the issue be perceived as wickedness.
  • Apologize.
    Be sincere, straightforward about what happened, and ask for forgiveness.  Describe the unwanted effect of your behavior.  While you’re admitting your mistake, though, don’t load the description with excuses.  Frankly, you’re likely the only one who cares about your reasons.  Your colleague or family member simply wants to know what you’re going to do to rectify the situation.
  • Identify the behavior changes you will make and implement them.
    Actions speak so much louder than words.  You have to follow through.

Now.  Let’s walk through the situation you want to repair:

Whose trust did you break?


What did you do?


Why do you want to restore this trust?


What words are important in your apology?


What three behavior changes will you make in order to restore the relationship?

How will you establish accountability for following through with these efforts?


By what date will you approach the person whose trust you affected?


Good for you for figuring this out. Now, you certainly know the next step:  Go take care of it.

Best wishes!

May you continue to have Bright Ideas!

Building Trust

Don’t tell me that you’re trustworthy.
Show me.

How you behave on a day-to-day basis will determine whether others will trust you.  Your values, your communication, the extent to which you demonstrate caring and openness, your competence as well as your reliability and believability – all of these characteristics blend to engender trust.

Following are twenty behaviors that build trust.  Select three of them that you really want to implement.  Then, concentrate, do them, make them habits, and pick three more.

  • There is someone to whom you made a promise and you haven’t delivered.  Follow-up and follow through.
  • You can complete a task that would make someone else’s work or life easier. Do it . . . without fanfare.
  • Think about someone who has great talent or potential.  Invest some time in helping him/her stretch.
  • Someone you know seems to be more subdued lately.  Initiate a friendly conversation that demonstrates that he/she is not alone.
  • Sit down with a co-worker and learn what’s going on in his/her job.  Identify a need he/she has that you can fulfill.
  • You claim to have a certain value but you did not uphold it in a recent instance.  Return to that circumstance and make it right.
  • Find ways to share bits of information about yourself to create a sense of connection.
  • Return to the people with whom you’ve had a recent awkward or uncomfortable exchange.  Express your desire to clear the air and do so right then.
  • Volunteer to do something above and beyond the norm.
  • Figure out what pieces of information you should share with your co-workers that will clarify or simplify their work.
  • Discover ways to decrease the level of competition that exists around you.
  • Acknowledge to the person affected that you have been inconsistent. Then, correct the situation.
  • Identify an experience you can create that will help someone else have a win.
  • Praise someone for collaborating with others.
  • Strategize with a co-worker on an issue that is important to you both.
  • Offer feedback to someone who has been seeking it.
  • Apologize for a mistake.
  • Invite someone to give his/her opinion on an important topic.
  • Accept responsibility for cleaning up a problem and follow-through quickly.
  • Set a positive example even when others fail to do so.

Teach me to believe in you.
All things considered, I want to give you my trust.

My “Promise”

Take five minutes.  You’re entitled to a break.  Find a quiet place to sit, think and write.  Shut the door, escape the noises, close the blinds, if you must.  No interruptions allowed.  Quiet.  Five minutes.

One of the reasons you walk this planet is to fulfill your promise.  That’s the action that you and only you can do because it’s done in your individual way.  Answer the following questions. You’ll get closer to defining or confirming your very special promise.

  • If I did this one thing, I would feel that I really, really, (really) mattered . . . .

(Think beyond the experiences of being an outstanding parent,
partner, child or employee. Focus more singly on your interests.)

  • Wouldn’t it be great if I could . . . ?

(This describes something that frequently and spontaneously
enters your mind or is a new and compelling interest.)

  • I would love to do something that has this result or impact . . . .
  • Based on what I’ve said so far, here, my “promise” might be connected to . . . .
  • Here’s one thing I can do to test that idea . . . .

Your timing for fulfilling your promise is clearly up to you.  But wouldn’t it be ideal to start now?

May you continue to have Bright Ideas!