Talking TO and NOT ABOUT is the price of entry for the restoration of trust. Leaders initiate the restoration process in the face of discomfort and challenge. Fredrik Nael said “It takes both sides to build a bridge.” Both sides have to want to, and be able to, restore the trust that has been broken. It’s true of any relationship, personal or commercial. If both sides want a restored relationship then the likelihood of it happening is much much greater. If one side, even unconsciously, has misgivings or doubts they will play out in the restorative experience.
BEFORE WE DIVE IN:
Restoring trust can be complex, and the methodology I am proposing doesn’t mean you lean into restoration if what you have experienced is repeated, unethical, immoral or illegal. If anything like that has happened to you then you must act in a way that protects your personal and professional safety. Deal with that as a matter of priority. What I’m framing here is the majority of the challenges we have with one another over time. Things like personality challenges, misunderstandings, bad experiences, poor behaviour, unfortunate incidents. The “stuff of life” that if left unaddressed will keep the mistrust and the disconnection in play.
We don’t restore trust for a number of reasons; they include:
- It is a repeated offence and you’ve simply had enough or don’t have the energy to resolve.
- The offender appears to do the same thing to others too.
- Neither party knows how to begin the restorative process.
- Neither party is prepared to play a win/win script. Choosing to have win/lose or a lose/lose approach.
- The offence that occurred serves you in some way. Hanging on to it gives you unresourceful satisfaction.
- You’ve decided to leverage the offence to serve your purposes and damage the other party.
- And many many other reasons I’m sure.
Choosing not to restore is on one level understandable and on nearly every level unresourceful. The price of entry for the restoration of trust is talking TO and NOT ABOUT. The model below outlines the best way to get begin the journey to making right and making good, and all involved can participate.
Restoring Trust – Model
The counter intuitive part about restoring trust is that it challenges you and I more than any other part of the equation. Engaging in the restorative process must see you be fully committed to personal formation and professional success.
There are three big ideas to restoring trust:
- Humility – having a mindset that considers others in the process as a priority.
- Forgiveness – being willing to acknowledge and release the offence experienced.
- Courage – The willingness to re-engage with brave wisdom.
And three significant benefits:
- When you grow in humility and release forgiveness you get personal freedom. You change for the better.
- When you grow in humility and exercise courage you get relational freedom. The connection strengthens.
- When you release forgiveness and exercise courage you get future freedom. The possibility brightens.
I get it’s hard. Leadership can be challenging at times. Learning things about yourself that you don’t like can be hard. Contemplating restoration can be hard. And, it’s worth it for what can be possible in the future. These five steps will help you get started:
- Responsibility. Own 100% your part of the problem. Avoid blaming and excusing any unresourceful behaviour.
- Awareness. Be aware of what you’re learning in and through the process, this is your gift to yourself.
- Strategy. Speak with a trusted advisor in confidence to map out a way forward.
- Openness. Invite the other party to discuss the matter. Be specific and focused on restoration and solutions.
- Reality. Expect it to be challenging but right. Handle to bumps but don’t exit the process.
When it comes to bridge building, half way isn’t enough. Be the kind of leader that’s prepared to go 100% of the way to restore trust. What happens is not in your control nor is it your responsibility. Then you can lead with freedom!
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.