We've all broken someone's trust at some point in our personal or professional lives. I was recently asked if broken trust can be repaired. The short answer is yes. However, it is going to take a lot of work.
Maybe you were in the wrong, and perhaps they were, but that doesn't change how damaging these situations can be for relationships. Fortunately, there are ways to repair the relationship if both parties are willing to put in the effort. Here are some steps to mend your relationship with someone who's lost faith in you (or vice versa).
Apologies should be specific and genuine. The problem with saying "I'm sorry" too often is that it loses meaning because it's said too much, but the same can be said of not apologizing. Apologies should be sincere and not just a way to get out of the situation. Apologies need to be timely and directed at the right party. And they should be specific. For example, rather than saying "I'm sorry," it's better to say, "I'm sorry I insulted you," or "I'm sorry I spoke badly about your idea in front of the boss." This allows both parties involved to move forward from whatever happened between them and understand where and how they went wrong.
Forgiveness and moving on are different things. Forgiveness is a choice. It's not about letting go of the past or moving on as if nothing happened. Instead, forgiveness is about letting go of our anger, bitterness, and resentment towards someone who has hurt us so deeply that we can't see through the fog anymore.
Forgiveness isn't forgetting what happened either. We don't have to ignore the pain to move on with our lives. Forgiving someone doesn't mean you allow them to hurt you again either. Instead, forgiveness gives you back your power so that you can take control of your life and how it should be lived every day.
Sometimes it's hard to move on. For example, if you've been hurt by someone you trusted, it might not be easy to trust anyone again. You may fear being hurt again, but that doesn't mean you can't find a new way to trust people.
Communication is worth it. Once you're ready to have that difficult conversation, remember that the best way to communicate is directly and honestly. Be patient with the situation; you may be unable to fix everything immediately. If one of you is still struggling with feelings related to past actions, give each other space until both of you feel comfortable moving forward together again.
Don't blame or make accusations during this conversation! It may seem tempting at first—it's easy to blame ourselves and others for everything wrong in life—but there are always two sides to every story. Even if someone else has betrayed your trust by lying about something important, their actions don't necessarily mean they're bad people. Maybe they just made a mistake? Perhaps they felt alone/unsupported/unappreciated?
You can repair trust with the right approaches and a genuine desire. But the good news is that there are ways to rebuild it. But both involved must be committed to finding a solution through communication, genuine apologies, and ongoing relationship work. However, trust is not something that you can fix in one day or even one week. It takes time, patience, and hard work on both sides of the relationship for it to heal fully.
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