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August 2005 - Restoring Broken Trust: A Six Step Process

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.August 2005

Restoring Broken Trust:  A Six Step Process

One of the most important ingredients in any relationship is trust.  Without it, marriages fail, friendships disintegrate, and workplace productivity and satisfaction suffer.

Trust means confidence, dependence, and reliance; it is the belief you won’t be harmed even when vulnerable.  But what if trust is broken?  How is it restored?  Once violated, the road back may be difficult, but not necessarily impossible. The victim may be slow to trust the one who was guilty of violating trust. Here is what must happen.

  • First, the guilty party must acknowledge a violation of trust has occurred.  Both parties know it; there is no use denying it.  Denial only prolongs reconciliation and possibly prevents it from ever occurring.
  • Second, determine from the victim’s perspective, the exact nature and cause of the violation.  In other words, the one who violated the trust must determine exactly how the victim feels about it.
  • Third, guilty parties must admit they damaged trust.  Admission is the key to starting down the road to recovery for both parties.
  • Fourth, the guilty party must accept responsibility for the violation.  Denial prevents reconciliation.
  • Fifth, the guilty party should offer to make reparations.  However—and this is very important—the victim must not make demands.  Forgiveness is forgiveness.  Demanding reparations prevents healing, negates the forgiveness, and prevents trust.
  • Sixth, together the two parties must create a mechanism to prevent it from happening again.  In other words they must talk about it, understand how it happened, and not let it happen again.

Obviously, trust should never be broken; but if it is, a speedy application of the six step process is the best chance for a restored relationship.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

August 2005 - Restoring Broken Trust: A Six Step Process
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