Rebuilding Trust
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This week, I’ve been asked to lead a workshop on rebuilding trust. As we talk through the steps of what we need to do to rebuild trust, it is good to remember that we can’t do it alone--it takes both parties to rebuild trust. We might have all of the good intent in the world to apologize and want to repair whatever trust was broken, but if the other party is not interested in rebuilding a positive relationship with us, it won’t happen. We know this both from our research, and from our own experience.

First, when you have offended someone (probably unintentionally), apologize. If you are the one who was offended, let that person know. Either way, it takes courage to share or apologize.

Once you have acknowledged that you heard that you hurt someone (even unintentionally), the trust repair can begin. You have let the other person know that you understand their distress and have heard them. This also takes humility.

If your apology is accepted, that also takes courage on the part of the other party to let go of their anger and move forward. It also takes empathy on their part to understand that you likely did not intend to offend them, but that it was likely a misunderstanding or a miscommunication.

In order to repair the trust you had with the person you can’t just say that you are sorry, you have to act on this and ask what you can to do make it up to them. Actions do speak louder than words and there may be something you can do to show that you are truly sorry. Ask and then act. This takes courage and humility.

Once you have taken this action to repair the trust that was broken, ask if you are on the way to repairing the relationship. This is likely only the first step towards repairing the trusting relationship you once had, and not the last. If the relationship is worthwhile, you will continue to invest in making it better over time.