Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Trust: Breach and Repair










Trust: Breach and Repair

The Nature of Trust

Three elements contribute to the level of trust one has for another:

  • The individual’s chronic disposition towards trusting others;
  • Situational parameters; and
  • The history of their relationship. 

Two general categories of trust exist:

  • Calculus-based trust: Grounded in the fear of punishment for violating trust and in the rewards to be derived from preserving it.

  • Identification-based trust:  Based on the identification with the other person’s desires, goals, and intentions.  It exists because the parties can effectively understand and appreciate one another’s wants. 


Rebuilding Trust:

Re-establishing trust, once breached, is very difficult.  

“In conflict, trust is broken, cruel words are spoken, friendships dissolve, love turns to hate, and hate into revenge.” 




“Trust is rebuilt not by focusing on what the other person did or did not do, but on improving one’s own behaviors, increasing one’s trustworthiness, and being congruent – not just in words and promises, but in actions, attitudes, and character.  It depends on integrity and authenticity.”

Former adversaries can rebuild trust by:

  • Treating each other with unconditional respect.
  • Listening deeply and sincerely, especially to criticism.
  • Expressing empathy for the other person, even if the other party does not listen or empathize in return.
  • Speaking openly and honestly about problems and failures, especially one’s own.
  • Being sincere and unlimited with apologies, as with criticisms.
  • Negotiating clear boundaries and respecting those established by others, even when others do not respect them in return.
  • Supporting participation and teamwork, empowering others, and making decisions collaboratively.
  • Agreeing on vision, shared values, and goals, and acting on them.
  • Acknowledging interests and being flexible regarding solutions.
  • Being willing to sacrifice something important to aid a former opponent or to achieve a higher goal.
  • Participating in social interactions and sharing information about each other’s personal lives.
  • Being consistent and dependable in crisis and hard times.


These recommendations are easier to list than to implement.  Yet, doing so leads to personal growth and learning.  

And, even if your opponent continues to distrust you, by adopting these behaviors you can restore balance into your own life centered in positive intention, and even love, but certainly respect for yourself and for others.  

April 29, 2014 Update:  The blogger at The Legal Watercooler provides an interesting discussion of trust breach and repair through the lens of the show Mad Men.  I just started the sixth season on Netflix last night.  So, I am watching Don Draper's acts of breach of trust. I'm anxious now to learn how he goes about repairing that trust.  

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