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8 Steps to Repair Trust

Challenge When trust is broken, it can be difficult to make the first move to fix the problem.

Solution Some relationships are too important to wait around in a stalemate. Take the necessary steps to save your most precious relationships when they are wounded.

When I was in college, I worked in a restaurant with other students like me. I became fast friends with one girl I had classes with, and we often helped each other out with customer needs and responsibilities. I trusted her.

One day she came to work dressed casually, and she pulled me aside to speak to me. She asked if I could pick up her shifts for the rest of the week because she had to go back to her hometown to see her ill grandmother. Though it would put a strain on my time to study, I agreed.

A few days later, someone sent me a picture of where my friend really was, and it had nothing to do with her family. After an exhausting week of school and work, it made me feel pretty angry, and I didn’t speak to her for a few weeks following the incident.

Any kind of breach in a relationship requires a cooling off period, and then, often, silence. The better approach is to figure out what you can do to repair it. Don’t waste time hoping the other person is going to make the first move. If the relationship is worth saving, be willing to make that move.

Ask yourself, “Is there anything in my actions or attitudes that have caused the problem, and can I change those?” While I was justified in my anger toward my friend, I let her know how I felt without taking an aggressive or passive-aggressive approach. I didn’t post about it on social media, and I didn’t gossip.

Deal with your personal feelings of hurt and anger internally, so that your communication will be more fair and open, more likely to help rather than hurt or extend the problem. I had to honor my feelings first, because if I approached my friend at the peak of my anger, I could have easily made the situation worse.

Find the best way to communicate that you see your own role in the problem. I wanted to help a friend I thought was in need. I knew how busy my school schedule was, and instead of taking responsibility for all of her shifts, I could have agreed to pick up a few instead.

Apologize if necessary. I wasn’t going to apologize for being angry. My feelings may have been uncomfortable for my friend, but that didn’t mean I was wrong.

Confront if necessary. My friend was someone I had trusted at one time. We had spoken about many private issues previously, and I was familiar with how she addressed conflict. She was a safe person for me to confront if I chose to do so, meaning, I knew she would listen to me without invalidating my feelings.

Do more listening than talking, and really try to understand the other person. Initially, I didn’t understand why my friend felt the need to lie to me about why she needed the time off, but I wanted to hear her speak. While I could have erupted with feelings of anger and frustration, I had to give her a chance to explain herself.

Go with a sincere plan to make things right. Because we were able to discuss the heart of the issue, and we had listened to one another, and our feelings were honored, we were able to express forgiveness and come to a compromise when the timing was right.

Get feedback from that person and others on what kind of changes you may need to make, and think about ways you can do that. This is definitely something that needs to be reciprocated. If you’re willing to seek feedback, the person giving the feedback needs to be open to the same from you. Establish new boundaries, keep an open mind and evaluate your emotions as needed.

Trust is difficult to restore. Not only can it leave your current relationship bruised, but your trust in other relationships could be compromised. But you can’t allow that to happen. Remember that forgiveness is a gift meant to liberate your mind and heart, not a permission for your trust to be betrayed again.

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