Despite out best intentions, at one time or another all of us break trust with others. In fact, because people have different perceptions of trust, misunderstandings and relationship strains are fairly common. We’ve seen how having a conversation using the ABCD Trust Model as a guide can help in these circumstances. But what do you do when a breach of trust is so severe that the relationship is strained to the breaking point—or breaks completely?
We call this damaged trust.
If you are avoiding another person because you feel there is no safe way to communicate openly, you are probably experiencing damaged trust. If the very thought of approaching this person fills you with dread, anger, or fear, that’s another sign that you’re dealing with damaged trust.
Step One: Acknowledge and Assure
To begin the rebuilding process, the first step is to acknowledge that a problem exists and needs to be addressed. If you are initiating the trust conversation, this will require courage. As you acknowledge the problem, assure the other party that your intention is to restore trust between the two of you and that you are willing to take the time and effort to get the relationship is mutual. If it is not, there is little you can do, other than thank them for their honesty. You may—or may not—want to let the person know that if they change their mind, you will be open to a conversation in the future.
Step Two: Admit
The next step is to admit your part in causing the breach of trust. Own up to your actions and take responsibility for whatever harm was caused. Even if you don’t feel you are entirely at fault, admit to your part in the situation. In cases where you feel the other party is mostly to blame, your part might be as simple as “I admit I haven’t let you know what’s been bothering me.” Admitting your part in the situation is a crucial step that should not be overlooked. Refusing to admit your mistakes undermines your believability.
Step Three: Apologize
The third step in repairing damaged trust is to apologize for your role in the situation. This takes humility. Again, even if you don’t feel you were entirely at fault, apologize for your part in the situation. Express regret for any harm you may have caused and assure the other person you will change the undesirable behaviour. (“I apologize for avoiding you. In the future I will let you know right away when I have a problem.”) it’s important that your apology is sincere and that you feel authentic remorse. If it’s contrived or forced, the other person will pick up on that and question your believability. Avoid making excuses, shifting blame, or using qualifying statements, as these will undermine your apology.
Step Four: Assess
Invite feedback from the other party about how he or she sees the situation. Together, assess which elements of the ABCD Trust Model were violated. Discussing the behaviours that damaged the relationship is bound to bring up uncomfortable emotions, so be prepared. It will be helpful to affirm that the purpose of this step is not to point fingers, but rather to identify problem behaviours so they can be avoided in the future. The more specific you can be about the behaviours that damaged the trust, the easier it will be to repair the breach, as you’ll each have a clear idea about what needs to change.
Step Five: Agree
The final step in rebuilding damaged trust is to work together to create an action plan. Now that you have discussed each other’s perceptions and identified the specific Trust Busters at the root of the problem, you can mutually identify the Trust Boosters you’ll use going forward. This is the time to clarify your shared goals for the relationship and make requests about what you’d both like to see more or less in the future.
Building trust is important in all relationships, but it’s particularly important if you hold a position of authority. If you’re a leader, you can afford many kinds of mistakes, but the one thing you can’t afford is to lose trust. By practicing behaviours that align with the four core elements of trust, you will not only set a healthy example, you will also inspire enthusiasm and success in those who follow you.
This Article is taken from Trust Works! Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationship
Written by Arshad. A