Have you ever been in a situation where you have broken trust? What happens when you need to rebuild trust? How do you get it back? There is only one way to build and regain trust: make and keep your promises.
Several years ago I was talking to a CEO from the Netherlands and I asked him what he thought the biggest difference was between American and Dutch businessmen. His response was direct, but telling. He said, “In America, there is a bunch of lying apologizers.”
It might seem harsh, but he has a point. Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Bernard Maydoff — these men have experienced personal or moral failures and offered public apologies. But do we trust them? That depends little on their apology, and much on their willingness to create tangible solutions to fix the problem.
The next step in a sincere apology is to make it right or solve the problem. Stand by the commitments that you have made to rebuild trust. Make promises that you can keep.
Trust is gained by consistent, truthful action over time.
If you say you’re going to do things and don’t follow through, it may be the first reason why your trust was broken. It doesn’t matter if you’re Lance Armstrong, or BP, or the president of a small company. The one and only way to build and regain trust for yourself, or your organization, is to make and keep your promises.
Here are a few ways to re-build trust and make sure your actions are lining up with your words:
Take responsibility for your actions. Acknowledge what really happened and that feelings are truly hurt.
Be patient and forgive. Recognize you have been forgiven by others and by God. Forgive yourself and understand that you are not perfect.
Evaluation and Accountability
Look closely at your actions and ask yourself if they line up with your words. If not, make the changes necessary to do so.
Ask a few people you respect — Am I the kind of person you can count on? Without being defensive, take their feedback to heart. Set up accountability for growth.
Don’t just apologize. Deliver results.
Next time you make a mistake (we all do), don’t just apologize. Offer tangible solutions to the problem, and follow through on those solutions, no matter what. Make small promises and keep them.
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