What if it’s broken?

So far in our series of blogs on trust, we’ve been considering first, the role of trust in high performing teams and organisations, and secondly, factors that earn and maintain trust. Today, we’ll explore what to do if it’s broken?

What if you’re the one who’s broken the trust, or what if you’re the one who’s struggling to forgive and move on?

Let’s consider those two positions:

1.You’ve lost trust in someone…

It might be helpful for a moment to consider the actual psychological implications of a breach of trust. For example, the 2008 economic crisis will not be remembered simply as a case of bad financial management: it will be remembered as a violation of a sacred trust, and as a betrayal – you may even say, a trauma. So in some ways, as dramatic as it may sound, you may feel traumatised if your trust has been violated or betrayed. It is important to first acknowledge this, and then express this to the person who has broken your trust. This requires courage and openness from you to reveal the true impact this has had on you. Once you have felt listened to and acknowledged, you have to decide whether or not the relationship is worth salvaging. Can you let go and move on from the trauma? What will you gain and what will you lose if you do? What else could the person do to regain your trust?

2.You’ve lost the trust of someone…

Similarly with the steps in the first example, you must first acknowledge and take responsibility for your actions and how they have contributed to a loss of trust. Apologising sincerely and acknowledging the impact you’ve had is a good place to start. As we mentioned in the previous blog, if you’re not being sincere, people will know! The process of regaining trust then comes down to a consistent alignment of word and action that demonstrates your trustworthiness. However, as with the previous example, you too have to decide if the relationship is worth fighting for. Do you feel forgiven? What does your gut tell you about the possibility for reconciliation in this situation? What might you need to let go of?

Rebuilding trust is a non-linear, nuanced, multi-person endeavour that requires time and commitment from all parties in order to be rebuilt. Who might you need to have a conversation with today?