Trust is a highly personal thing. And for many reasons beyond the scope of this blog, trust is crumbling in our society both personally and professionally. In fact, the unsettling reality is that broken trust has now reached epidemic proportions.
- PwC research reports that only 29% of Americans believe most people can be trusted, a sharp decline from 50% in 1972 when the General Social Survey first began.
- Adding more fuel to the fire, Forbes reveals that 63% of employees do not trust their leaders, the highest percentage ever reported nationally or internationally. This means that more people distrust than trust!!
Broken trust can come from a variety of unintentional places such as saying one thing and doing another, breaking promises or leaving people out of the loop. Or it can come from more serious, intentional offenses such as workplace sabotage, betrayal of confidences or throwing others ‘under the bus.’ Either way, the effects of broken trust can dramatically damage any relationship or project.
And accept the fact that you will, in your life, either be the victim of ‘broken trust’ or break someone’s trust in you. Swallow that bitter pill now because it’s going to happen. You can’t avoid it even if you tried.
I know this from my own personal experience. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m passionate about driving resolution . . . to the point that I’m always on the hunt for trouble and problem areas! If I do say so myself, this is a fabulous skill to possess until I sometimes overstep my boundaries. I can lose sight of other people’s ‘cheese’ and, upon occasion, I have come across arrogant, cocky and insensitive. Not the best qualities for an Organizational Leadership expert . . . or for building trust in an occupation that depends on it.
In this blog, I want to share with you my own personal approach to rebuilding trust which is quickly proving to be one of the most important skills you can possess in today’s skeptical society. Hopefully, they can work for you as well.
Rebuilding Trust . . . An Essential Skill for Your Personal and Professional Life
So, yes, I have found myself inadvertently breaking down trust instead of building it. And in this process I have painfully learned that trust is very difficult to create AND sustain, period.
In my heart, I can confidently tell you that trust all funnels down to . . . let your ‘yes be yes’ and your ‘no be no.’ But being human, it’s not that easy for us to do! So let’s move on to what we can do about repairing trust.
Repairing a Personal Relationship Where You Broke the Trust
However the broken trust happened, it’s essential that you step up and take ownership by . . .
- Pro-actively admitting to your error as soon as possible! That means don’t wait! And don’t quibble over who’s right or wrong regardless of your ego or your belief you didn’t do anything wrong. Like I said, gaining trust is not Have you heard the saying: ‘Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?’ This is probably the point in the blog where I lose at least half of my readers!
I’m not saying being right and being happy are polar opposites. I’m saying that when it comes to broken trust, people experience ‘hurt’ feelings. And we, as human beings, naturally ‘close up’ as a protection mechanism. The only way to open up a ‘closed person’ is to show ‘open-ness’ yourself. Trust boils down to . . . True, sincere effort and a willingness to show support and vulnerability. To this end, the question of right or wrong is secondary to honest, genuine communication.
- Make it ‘right’ as soon as possible: This is a two-way street. Words without action mean no-thing is really accomplished! They are empty promises that put you right back into the same mis-trust situation that you initially created. People need to see ‘evidence’ that you really took to heart the feedback and demonstrate that through your actions. Talk is truly cheap. In fact, when it comes to repairing trust, you can almost say ‘nothing’ and just ‘do right.’ Watch what happens when this occurs.
Again, hard to do if you believe you did nothing to warrant the mistrust. But please don’t lose sight of the point here: Trust is about having true, genuine, sincere relationships where there is a real sense of support and camaraderie. We’re not talking ‘business’ here as much as about ‘relationships.’
- Be as consistent in your ‘right’ actions as possible. ‘One and done’ means nothing in the long run when it comes to repairing trust. I’m sure that you didn’t get to the state of ‘broken trust’ overnight. Don’t expect trust to be regained overnight either! You must be committed to the long haul until your ‘consistent right actions’ are habits vs ‘doing it for them.’ One of the best ‘signs of success’ are when those very individuals who ‘lost trust’ in you start opening up again. Hang in there! It will be worth it in the long run!
You might be thinking at this points, ‘man, this repairing trust stuff, is hard and sucks!’ Believe me, it does! I’ve been there one too many times! Re-gaining trust is ten-fold harder than keeping it! But keep your eyes on the ‘prize’ and hang in there. It’s priceless when people trust you and so extremely detrimental when people do not!
Repairing a Personal Relationship Where Someone Else Broke Your Trust
This is also an area where you need to take some ownership! People aren’t mind readers. You need to be able to express why your trust is broken and what you need to regain it. Keep in mind, the person may not even realize they did anything to break your trust. Speaking up and communicating is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do because of the sheer emotions involved. But you MUST do it if you value the relationship. And if you can’t be objective, get someone to help you communicate.
Also, keep in mind the following . . .
- Grant some grace. Now the reason why I started with, you first, is to help show how extremely difficult it is to swallow the ‘ego pill’ when you are in the wrong. You’ve heard it said: ‘Forgive 70 times 7.’
I get that giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who has ‘burned you’ sometimes feels like allowing them the opportunity to burn you again. I also get that there are downright cold hearted and brutal acts that lead to broken trust. But what I’m talking about here, is someone who realizes his/her ‘wrong’ and approaches you to apologize. You already know how hard it is to overcome their own ego to approach you. And what you do with their ‘apology’ will determine if they ever try again. Grant them some grace. It’s a risk worth taking.
- Lower your Expectations but be clear on what ‘progress looks like’! Yes, that’s right. LOWER your expectations. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ and your trust isn’t going to be regained back in a day either! That doesn’t mean it can’t eventually be earned back if your folks took some of the above steps! But you must be clear on the ‘specific’ cause and action they can take to regain your trust.
Don’t be nebulous. Sometimes, people have no idea what they did to break your trust. They just noticed that ‘something has changed’ between you and them. Often times, broken trust simply boils down to mis-aligned focus, priorities and communication among people.
Final Thoughts on Repairing Trust
For Personal Relationships
- It’s OK if you are NOT yet ready to rebuild trust; take your time
Wounds received from broken trust take time to heal and you may not be ready to grant the grace I mentioned. That’s OK, really. Long term, however, any relationship where there is broken trust is not sustainable. Along with the inner turmoil, the decrease in communication, support and even production takes a toll on everyone. Take time to reflect, weigh the pros and the cons of your relationship with that person or situation and eventually work up the courage to take steps in reparation of trust. Or move on and shed those hurt feelings for good.
- Be clear on what your employees need in order to trust your organization and follow through
I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about trust from the company perspective but I will tell you the core principles are exactly the same. What goes into repairing trust within individuals holds true for repairing trust within companies, as well. Company’s actions, communication and level of support for their employees will determine whether or not their employees trust the leaders.
Have the courage and discipline to find out the ‘trust factor’ of employees on your organization and do whatever you need to do to get it back if you, as a company, have lost it. And do whatever you need to do as a company to maintain it if you are already there. It’s the difference between whether or not you have a workforce of loyal contributors who are looking out for the good of the company, recommending your organization to their friends, hanging out even after work, or just simply collecting a paycheck.
SAOL™ Transformational Leadership
Each blog comes from SAOL, The Rubi Ho Group’s exclusive leadership methodology known as Strategic, Agile Organizational Leadership. Its’ proven framework offers a common-sense approach to driving synergy, alignment and performance within leaders, teams and organizations.
Share This Blog with Others 🙂
If you found this information helpful, please be sure to share it with a friend by clicking on the envelope button below. Better yet, encourage them to sign up to receive the next blog by sending them the link http://therubihogroup.com/category/leadership-worth-sharing-blog/