Sorry Workplace relationships are founded upon trust and good will. The more trust that is developed between various working parties, the faster and more efficiently work can be done. In fact, trust in one of the most powerful, yet intangible commodities that directly affects the bottom line. But so often in business, a tension rises in people when they have to make choices that affect trust but impede progress toward a goal or ambition. As we look at a given situation, it might appear the choice that builds trust will slow achievement of our immediate desires. Yet, in the long run, injuries to trust will always damage the efficiency and effectiveness of relationships. Whenever we take actions that dishonor others in order to accomplish our own ambitions or goals, we compromise the integrity of relationships, the cohesiveness of our team, and the effectiveness of our organization. We know that hardly anyone sets out to wreak havoc and destroy trust. Usually, we rationalize poor behavior with some justification of our ego. In other words, we defend and excuse dishonorable behaviors (what we DO) with justifications grounded in noble purpose (what we INTEND). Let’s look at just a few workplace actions that dishonor others and some example justifications people use to defend themselves: Doshonoring Others Here’s the problem: The minute that ego or ambition supersedes the best interest of the other person or people in a relationship, we risk jeopardizing the long-term trust and efficacy of that relationship. The reality is that trust takes time, and while sacrificing it may produce short-term benefits, it damages whatever credibility, influence, and goodwill you had with the people you need to create long-term success. So what do we do if you find yourself in a place of broken trust? There are two answers, one for each side of the break. First, if we are the one who has broken trust with others, what is required is a change of mind and heart. This alteration requires three things: ownership, apology, and change. It doesn’t make any difference if we’ve made a big mistake or a small one, we need to take ownership of our mistakes, admit to them, apologize and fix the problem, and then do everything we can to not repeat the problem. As John C. Maxwell once said, “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” Second, if someone has broken trust with us, what it requires is forgiveness. “Forgiveness,” said Indira Gandhi “is a virtue of the brave.” Courage emerges from the strength of one’s convictions and the faith in yourself and others to do better. Realize that forgiveness is not equivalent to trust. You aren’t expected to accept or ignore an injustice by forgiving. You simply release the injustice so that it doesn’t bog you down in bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness recognizes that punishment and vengeance are not our job and sets the stage for potential reconciliation. Reconciliation is always the goal for those who’ve broken trust. It is that achievement that sets our workplaces in working order again and the foundation upon which we can build more trust for even greater efficiency and productivity. You now have the key to powerful workplace relationships—trust. If you’ve broken trust, you can rebuild by taking the steps mentioned. No mistake or injustice is beyond forgiveness when people set their hearts and minds to that purpose. If you have been the recipient of broken trust, you can release yourself of its effect by choosing to forgive and opening the door to reconciliation. In the end, reconciliation always deepens the overall satisfaction, cohesion, and collaboration of people, teams, and organizations. Choose forgiveness! We would love to hear your stories of the power of trust and trust rebuilt. Contact us at [email protected] to share your stories! Or if you get stuck, we have many resources and would love to help. Contact us at [email protected] or visit to find out how. For additional resources on rebuilding trust, see:
Forgiveness: Seven Things It's NOT
Worldwide Copyright TJ Associates, LLC Diane Kucala, August 2012