Relationship Restoration:  The Power of Admitting When You’re Wrong

Transformative Trust Begins with the Choices You Make Right Now

The potential for dishonesty, secrecy, lies, contempt, and rejection can live within all words spoken and all deeds done, from the daily minutiae to the defining moments. These are the things that damage or break trust. 

And in times of change the possibility of distrust and mistrust increases significantly.

Broken trust is difficult to talk about and even harder to recover from. It often feels easier to abandon relationships rather than invest in rebuilding them. This is #cancelculture, after all.

Why do we avoid it? Because the work of repairing trust requires a leap into the unknown. Our minds can talk us out of nearly anything because they are hard-wired to protect us. But the society we live in today is not the one our minds have evolved for. There is no saber-toothed tiger in the conference room or on the other end of the phone—just a relationship that needs to be repaired. 

Even if we desire to rebuild trust, we don’t often have the skills—yet. 

This is exactly why you should keep reading.

When You’re Wrong, Admit it.

Achieving success doesn’t mean you never fail or disappoint others. To learn and grow we must possess the capacity to recognize when we are wrong. Stubborn, inflexible refusal to accept when we are wrong puts us in disharmony with change and leaves us feeling frustrated.

“This disharmony creates suffering for us and those around us,” says Dr. Mike Brooks, a psychologist specialized in helping people find greater balance in an increasingly hyperconnected world. “There is great, untapped power in the flexibility inherent within the admission: “I am wrong.’”

This is where repairing trust begins.

When Others Are Wrong, Grow Together.

We hear it everywhere and all the time: nobody is perfect. Everyone occasionally does something that, on reflection, they aren’t proud of.

Studies have shown that humans have a natural tendency to move toward growth. And there’s no better way to show someone whose trust we have damaged that we’ve grown by making—and keeping—a new commitment. This is the most powerful way to mend a broken trust.

In supportive social contexts, people’s natural tendency toward growth is supported—and defensive behaviors are thwarted. This means that supportive social contexts are critical to repairing trust. Connection, one of our 8 Pillars of Trust, plays an overwhelming role in creating these environments and facilitating the work of repairing trust. 

Re-connection Is Just as Critical as Connection

Leaders can create environments of connection—and the inherent collaboration it brings—in three ways:

  • See people as humans. Not just people like you or people at work, but people who are in a constant state of growth and transformation. 
  • Assume Positive Intent. Giving the benefit of the doubt goes a long way in building and rebuilding relationships.
  • Show you are listening. Put the phone down and really listen. In fact, take it off the table. Put it away. People can tell when you’re really present and that leads to stronger bonds, greater grace, and more opportunities to remind ourselves that the good in others almost always outweighs bad choices, mistakes, and disappointments. 

Building stronger connections is a compounding activity: the more interaction you have, the deeper and greater connection you have. And the higher likelihood you are building trust that stands the test of human behavior.

Building Cultures of Connection

There is also a correlation between your satisfaction at work and your willingness to be vulnerable. Owning up to our mistakes and nurturing connections not only improves our relationships with others, it leads to deeper satisfaction in our work and personal lives.

According to the 2023 Populace Success Index, most Americans believe that success is about a meaningful life, not getting rich. The Index’s findings also show we believe that others perceive the opposite. 

At the end of the day, we all want to build resilient relationships. Growth, flexibility, connection, and harmony are born from the work of repairing trust—and it generously goes both ways. If you’re looking for a great resource for helping you to rebuild trust, check out “The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line”—chapter thirteen is all about rebuilding trust.

As you move on with your day, it is highly likely you have relationships that you are avoiding the work of rebuilding trust. It could be with a friend, a partner, a team, or your customers and clients. If you don’t take the first step to reconnect and rebuild, who will?Our Trust Edge Certification Program gives you the tools, training, and a thriving community to build satisfying cultures of connection. Are you interested? Schedule a 15-minute discovery call today to take your place in our Trust Edge Certified Partner Directory.

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