Restoring Trust

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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.

Trust: An Assessment

It’s that gut feeling;
that instinct that makes you squint your eyes ever so slightly and stare,
leaning your head faintly to the right.

You’re not so sure about that person, are you?
You’re not certain he’s telling you the truth.
There’s something more that she’s not saying.

You watch him.  You notice whether he looks away when he’s making a point,
or whether she holds her chin because she’s uncomfortable with her words.

They want your buy-in.  Your decision?  You’ll wait and see.

Trust is a powerful emotion.

Think about how well you trust the people who surround you most:
your co-workers, your boss, your partner, your family.

Are they clear about what’s right and what’s wrong and take the high road
or are they comfortable with deceit, no matter how small?

Do they take responsibility for their decisions and actions,
or do they deflect and point fingers at others?

Do they act as though they care?
For whom?  Others or themselves?

Can you count on them – and do you?
Would you be willing to take a big risk with them as your back-up?

Trust determines how much you’ll invest, doesn’t it?
It governs whether you’ll embrace them or hold them off;
whether you’ll be transparent or keep your secrets;
whether you’re even willing to show them what you have to offer.

It’s sobering to think about.
Giving them your trust is not to be taken lightly.
It’s a very big deal.

Now.  Ponder this:
You co-workers, your boss, your partner and your family
are also reading this message now and thinking about you.

How will you rate?  Have you earned their trust?

Is there something you can do today to increase it?

The upcoming Bright Ideas will offer some tips.