How to rebuild trust with your team

We’ve all experienced the loss of trust in a relationship. When we don’t trust someone, we don’t believe what they tell us. We don’t want to work with them. And we don’t want to share what we have with them. A team without trust is dead in the water. How is it possible to rebuild trust with your team?

Tension, anger, and bitterness can be an existential threat to the success of your business. Once we’ve crossed the line from trust to suspicion, it can often feel that we reached a “point of no return.” It’s hard to imagine that things could ever be like they were before. Yet in many relationships in life, we do find a way to make things right. And what’s more, our relationships are often stronger for the experience.

The hardest part to rebuilding trust is taking the first step. Here are a few things to think about when trying to rebuild trust:

1. Accept accountability

Taking the first step to accept your responsibility for the current situation takes courage. But it’s often all it takes to break the “spell” of distrust in your team. Everyone, in some way, participated in creating the current situation. Even if you don’t feel like you did something wrong, perhaps it was something you didn’t do–by not standing up and speaking sooner–that you need to acknowledge.

2. Evaluate your intention

Take a look in the mirror. What’s your intention? Have you been acting out of insecurity? Ask yourself, “Would I trust myself in this situation?” We are quick to justify ourselves in the heat of the moment. But if we want to trust others, we have to be honest with ourselves first.

3. Restart the trust

Trusting someone after you’ve been burned can feel like a risky proposition. Nobody would think you are obligated to act like “nothing happened.” But rebuilding that trust has to start somewhere. Focus on the fundamentals and don’t be too quick to snap back into defensive mode if things don’t work out right away.

4. Give it time

When you’re hurting, it’s natural to raise your defenses. Those defenses won’t come down easily or quickly. Start rebuilding in small ways. Realize that others need time too. Trust is not something that can be ordered or demanded. It’s something that we give to each other based on experience.

It really is possible to come back from feelings of distrust. But it requires honesty, self-awareness, and time. Even if things don’t work out in the end, you can at least know that you approached the situation with humility, honesty and respect.


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