How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
When Your Trust Has Been Violated
Guest articles > When Your Trust Has Been Violated
by: Deb Calvert
In a previous post, the topic was finding a way to trust others even when doing so requires vulnerability. As promised, this week’s post is a follow up to answer the “yeah, but” question about people you’ve trusted and times you’ve been burned in the past.
blog 032313It’s easy to build walls to protect ourselves. There are messages all around that support taking a self-protective stance. You’ve heard phrases like “once burned, twice shy,” and “fool me once, shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me.” You may even use these phrases and thoughts like them to fortify the walls you’ve built. The more you find yourself withholding trust and being suspicious of others’ motives or intentions, the stronger your walls are becoming.
Here’s the problem with walls; They keep others out. But they also keep you in. So instead of walls, consider building bridges. This includes building bridges between you and the people who have violated your trust in the past. I’m not suggesting, by the way, that every person gets their own bridge. You’ll decide, one person at a time, with whom to build that bridge. Bridges are narrow and pretty easy to manage. You will still be in control.
With a bridge, you’ll be able to consider some possibilities that you may not have considered before. Put yourself in the shoes of the other party. Maybe there is something more to the story than you realized. Here are some common reasons that people fail to come through on what they’ve promised:
Of course, your first response was disappointment and a feeling of betrayal. You were counting on the other person to come through in the way you expected. You may have responded emotionally rather than giving opportunity for an explanation. Or, perhaps, no explanation was going to be good enough so you barely heard the “excuses” and exacerbated the situation by letting your hurt and anger take over. By doing so, you probably violated the other person’s trust, too.
That doesn’t mean it’s too late. Grace is something you can extend at any time. Grace is a merciful pardon, something you give without evaluating whether or not the other person deserves it. You do it to build a bridge and tear down a wall. It helps you.
To handle a situation where trust has been violated, start by considering this perspective: “Together, our mutual trust has been broken.” That’s quite different from the usual mindset of “You have broken my trust.” It gives you a lot more to work with, and it opens the lines of communication to repair the damage regardless of who’s to blame, how much each party should assume of the blame, etc.
You may be thinking of another “yeah but…” I’ve used it just as much as you have. It’s the one that goes “yeah, but she hurt me. She’s the one who should try to rebuild the trust…” Do you see the wall you’re building with that perspective? Chances are good that the other person is saying something similar about you. So you can be the bridge-builder without giving up anything at all – your approach says, “Together, our mutual trust has been broken,” and acknowledges that you are both responsible for the repair work.
One final note. Everyone deserves grace and a chance to explain. You will feel better when you build bridges that you choose, bridges that keep healthy relationships intact for you. This perspective may not be the best one for you to take with repeat offenders, people who have broken your trust over and over again. That’s why you will be selective in the bridges you build.
Deb Calvert is President, People First Productivity Solutions
Contributor: Deb Calvert
Published here on: 18-Aug-13