Restoring Trust Can be an Enormously Positive Adventure


When examining the great losses we’re seeing in the global financial crisis, one thing is very clear: one of the greatest losses we feel is broken trust. But all is not lost. It is a challenging path and a time consuming one, but trust can be re-built and restored.

In any given situation, both personal and in professional life, I think that the process of restoring trust can be an enormously positive adventure because you can redeem yourself and create newness. For example, when you have a broken relationship with someone, you have to learn to acknowledge your role in it, apologize, and  have humility. Then you need to find a way to involve the person in a process of coming up with a new relationship.

I sometimes use the metaphor of an Emotional Bank Account. Like a financial bank account, you can make deposits and take withdrawals from the account. When you make consistent deposits, out of your integrity and out of your empathy—that means your understanding of what deposits and withdrawals are to other people—those two things—empathy and integrity—that little by little you can restore trust.

Think of your own crisis you may dealing with—perhaps a broken trust at work or at home or with a friend—and think of how you can restore trust in the relationship. Examine your Emotional Bank Account with this person; it’s most likely strained because of withdrawals. Make a commitment to start making deposits that matter most to that person, and do it. Little by little, even with small deposits, you will find that the account will grow. It may take time. But over time you will find the cumulative effect of the deposits. Slowly, depending on the severity of the broken trust, you can find trust being re-built and restored, and new relationship will be born. Of course, this also depends on the other person, but you can choose to do your part regardless of the other person—to focus on your circle of influence. And you will find some peace, knowing that you’ve done your part.

Reach out to someone today with whom you have a strained relationship or someone whose relationship needs strengthening. Make a deposit in their Emotional Bank Account…and commit to continuing the deposits. And don’t forget making deposits in your strong, high-trust relationships—it’s what keeps them strong! Enjoy the adventure! --Stephen Covey