Just in case you breach trust…here’s a 6 step plan to rebuild it


I wrote in my last blog about discovering the deeper elements of: TRUST.

That it is not simply being someone others can rely on. That trust develops over time and after a series of kept promises.

As Charles Kovess, JPPS co-founder, says in his presentations, “trust is built like a wall: brick by brick. Breaking that trust is like breaking that wall down. The only way to build it back is brick by brick.”

Betrayal in a loving relationship is usually understood. The betrayed party is vocal about their unhappiness and their emotional state is such that the hurt is obvious.

However often in the workplace, if an employee feels betrayed by their superior, their reaction is to withdraw, not feeling safe enough to show their displeasure.

Attention to your relationships with colleagues will improve your chances of picking up on behaviour changes as a indicator that something is amiss.

If you become aware that you have breached or damaged trust, what can you do?


State it out loud. “I did this!” Face up honestly to your actions, and show that you are willing to be accountable. Tell them that you understand that they are upset, and have the right to be unhappy with you. It is vital that you give them a chance to air their grievances, and be acknowledged.


Many business advisors in books and presentations that I have seen say that superiors should never apologise. That’s baloney, in my view. It has been my experience that until you say “I’m sorry”, your words of reconciliation fall on deaf ears.


Let the person know that it is your intention to avoid repeating that behaviour again, that you know where you went wrong and why you chose that negative course of action. Let them know the actions that would have been more appropriate, and this will be your chosen behaviour in future similar circumstances.


What next best step can you take to start the process of healing? Discuss this with the staff member, if appropriate. Make a small commitment to them that can be fulfilled quickly. And then do it. This will help compartmentalise the issue as ‘that was then, this is now’ so it can be more easily moved into the past.


Conduct a follow up discussion to assess how the staff member is feeling. Thank them for the role they have taken in managing the issue and moving through it. Emphasise that we are all human and you appreciate the chance to rectify the wrong.


Finally, accept you erred and move on. Don’t continually beat yourself up over an indiscretion. Making mistakes is a vital element of progress and growth that nobody avoids. Embrace the negatives of a situation as part of the benefits you enjoy for the rest of your life.

Healing from breaching a trust is possible. Most of the process is taking responsibility for your actions.

There is a lovely quote delivered by Morgan Freeman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves…

“There are no perfect men in the world; only perfect intentions.”