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It’s not a good feeling when you realise you have lost the trust and support of others. As you look back in hindsight, you can see the clues but that’s always too late and you find yourself feeling isolated and alone, realising that others are watching your every move and talking behind your back. You’re not exactly sure when it started, or what the big event was but they are not as warm as they use to be and appear to have stopped listening and engaging, the way they have previously.  

You scramble to try and make sense of what to do.  How can you get things back to the way they were and it’s surely not all your fault? But even this sense making brings little calm to the way you feel and the burning desire to make it right and have things back the way they used to be, this is all encompassing and absorbs most of your thinking.

You’ve tried to gain feedback, seek advice, explored in your mind to the point where it’s all become a blur and still it makes no sense.  How could you not see it and get it so wrong? Others are telling you it’s not a bad as you think, you’re probably being overly sensitive but that brings little comfort – their advice may be correct, but it does little to make it feel right. 

Having worked with many talented people who have lost the trust of those around, we have developed a very simple way to right the relationship and get things back on track. These three simple (but not always easy) actions have had major impacts in the relationships of talented individuals and the people around them.

1.      Acknowledge the Obvious – naming the obvious in very simple terms is a starting point to rebuilding what you had. When we acknowledge and make sense for others it creates comfort and a sense of being on the one page. Be specific and objective about the behaviour you are seeing not just about what you feel and believe and stay right away from the temptation of laying blame.

2.      Ask for a “Reset” – this is about exploring whether the other party is open to resetting the relationship, wiping the slate clean to some degree and starting again, giving you a chance to earn trust back. For you it’s a safe way to explore another’s willingness without over exposing yourself or making you overly vulnerable.

3.      Clarity of Next Steps – being clear, consistent and predictable is critical to rebuilding the relationship. Vagueness must be avoided otherwise others may not be sure on what they are expecting. This will cause doubt which is easy to link to “nothing has changed”. Asking for feedback on the planned action engages the other individual into the solution and can create an avenue to gain support and feedback on the path back to openness and trust.

You get one, maybe two chances to “fess up” and reset before the cement of your reputation sets quickly and becomes impossible to change in the eyes of others. The paramount thing to do is not avoid the “elephant in the room” and do the work, hug the cactus. If you feel things are not right, then they aren’t. Stop waiting for others to come to you and hoping the problem will go away.

What’s you’re experience of regaining trust in a relationship?