When you’ve let someone down, you have one task: to rebuild trust with the person you hurt. The problem is, since you weren’t the one offended, you are often out of touch with what it takes to rebuild trust.
I often work with addicts. They have a long line of people with whom they’ve broken trust. The other day someone asked me what they can do to rebuild trust with their family and this is what I shared with them…
Six Ways to Rebuild Trust
- Apologize well. I cover this in other posts. But the idea is to fully admit your errors with sincerity and ask for forgiveness. If the other person can see that you mean what you say, you’ve started well.
- Ask what they need to see from you. The person you betrayed lives in fear of you offending them again. So, ask them what those fears are. What will undermine their trust in you? It is better to ask up front about their concerns and not find out later when they are ready to give up on you.
Trust is what makes a relationship safe and allows for intimacy.
- Give them permission to not trust you. People often confuse trust with forgiveness. They know they should forgive you but they wrongly think that means they should trust you too. That makes them feel guilty. They shouldn’t. You can alleviate their guilt. So tell them that you’d love their forgiveness but you want to work to earn their trust and you are committed to the long haul. They will appreciate that. It will remove a burden from them.
- Change your behavior. This might seem obvious but I need to list it here. This is what trust is ultimately about. Work at being consistent. Gaps in your behavior set the clock back to zero and you have to start all over again.
- Over communicate. If you know you will be home late, call to let them know. Check in with the person at key points where they might be wondering what you are up to. To you, it might seem petty. But they will appreciate your thoughtfulness. If you take the mystery out of your behavior, they won’t have to wonder if the other shoe is going to drop.
- Don’t pressure people to trust you prematurely. Rebuilding trust always takes longer than you can imagine or want to believe. If you pressure them to trust you, you might lose them. You aren’t the one to decide if you’ve done enough to rebuild trust with them. They are. If you broke trust for years, it might take years to win it back.
Trust Takes Work
Trust is what makes a relationship safe and allows for intimacy. It’s a beautiful thing. But it takes significant work to create it. You have to decide how much it’s worth to restore the broken relationship.
Are there other ways you can think that will help build trust? Scroll to the bottom of this page to add your comment. Share this with a friend who needs to rebuild trust with someone.