Trust is difficult to build and all too easy to break. And when you have broken the trust of someone in the workplace—be it a co-worker- or boss—it can adversely affect your work and career. But there are ways to repair a relationship.
If Your Trust Has Been Broken
Calm down: Take time to reflect on what has happened before responding. “Cool your system down–do not react in the heat of your emotions. Approach the trust breaker in a calm, clear and professional manner,” says workplace relationship expert Kathi Elster of K Squared Enterprises and co-author of Working with You Is Killing Me, Mean Girls at Work and Working for You isn’t Working for Me.
Get their side: Although you are hurt, try and find out why the person betrayed your trust. “Find out where the other person is coming from. This is not easy. It’s not uncommon to think we know the other person’s intentions, but you might be wrong, so ask,” advises Elster.
Set boundaries: Now that the person has crossed the line, you need to set limits so it won’t happen again. “Lay out your future trust requirements–if the other person takes responsibility for their role in breaking your trust, you can now say what you need in order to trust again,” says Elster. ”For example, say something like ‘I expect you to inform me first the next time you include me in a decision.’”
Does the person deserve a second chance? “See if there is a chance that the other person is willing to earn back your trust,” says Elster.
If You Broke The Trust
Take responsibility: Acknowledge that you have broken the person’s trust and apologize for lying.
Stop lying: You will never again be trusted if you continue to lie. Boost your credibility by being dependable and honest.
Keep your promises: If someone can’t believe what you say you are going to do, they will never really trust you. How can you be trusted with a major account if your boss is not sure you will do the work?
Offer restitution: If there is a way you can fix the situation you created, try.
Question yourself: Ask yourself why you did what you did. Did you have good intentions or were you manipulating the situation for self-interests? Were you trying to get ahead at work at the expense of someone else?
Try to rebuild the trust: Actions really do speak louder than words. Prove to the person you are willing to earn their trust again—and show them. If you failed your boss on an important account, work extra hard to show you won’t do it again.
Have patience: Know that it will take time to regain trust and get the relationship back on track.