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The Absence of Trust : 4 Keys To Rebuild When It’s Broken

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.” —George MacDonald

How do you rebuild trust? Here are four practical suggestions:

1. Get clear on what trust means to you.

One great way to do this is to read Ken Blanchard’s book Trust Works. I’ve included a video below that provides a brief overview of the content. The book contains a self-assessment to uncover which expressions of trust matter most to you, and which ones matter least. This is critical to understanding not only the most common ways you are likely to break trust with others, but also expanding your paradigm to include a more comprehensive definition of what it means to be trustworthy.

2. Get feedback from your team.

Or from whomever you want to strengthen trust, and engage them in an open conversation around what it would really take to rebuild or strengthen trust between you.

Blanchard’s book also contains a peer evaluation you may find useful here. In your conversation around trust, though, make sure everyone expresses their needs regarding trust in the form of a direct request. Where trust is involved, specificity is vital—both for you to know what is being asked of you, and for the one asking to be clear about what they actually need from you.

3. Talk it out.

Where trust has been damaged or broken, restoration won’t happen without openly talking through conflicts that (up to now) have been festering in the shadows. This is a delicate time, and requires humility, courage and a willingness to really listen. When stakes are high, it can be useful to bring in a coach to act as an unbiased facilitator for the conversation. I use a simple but highly effective Clearing Process with leaders and teams. If you’d like to learn more, drop me a line and we’ll set up a time to talk.

4. Practice, evaluate, then practice some more.

As you learn new ways of engaging each other, build in regular “check in” sessions to get feedback on how you’re doing, and make adjustments in your approach. As with any new skill, mastery doesn’t happen overnight; nor does it happen without regular, meaningful feedback to tell you how you’re doing. Besides, nothing builds trust as quickly as inviting the other person to coach you in how to build trust in your relationship with them.

For teams struggling with deeper or longer-standing trust issues, I recommend looking into taking your staff through an assessment like the Core Values Index, which does a brilliant job of identifying each person’s dominant value regarding trust, and provides a data-driven framework from which to talk about trust, and design a meaningful path to restoration. There’s a free version of the assessment available on the site, as well as a paid version, which provides a more in-depth analysis of each profile.

I love using this assessment with leaders and their teams because of its simplicity. The assessment takes fewer than 10 minutes to complete, and the results are easy to understand and apply. (By the way, I don’t get any kickbacks for promoting it. I just like it.)

One final thought: Trust is like a fire; it requires a regular investment of fuel to keep it burning strong. What will you do to strengthen trust on your team today?