Lies, rage, violence, and infidelity, they can all lead to losing someone’s trust. Once broken, it can take a lot of time and effort to rebuild it.
“Earning back” someone’s trust is one of the greatest challenges after a betrayal. Although broken trust can be healed, it takes work and patience. The process of repairing trust doesn’t happen quickly. And keep in mind, even though we often talk about “earning” someone’s trust, the reality is that trust is always a gift given to us by someone else who is taking a risk on us.
Here are a few things you can do to help people consider rekindling their trust in you.
1. Apologize for your mistake in person. Take responsibility for your actions. Your apology should be sincere, without any excuses or rationales. You need to understand that you only have yourself to blame.
You can say something like, “I am really sorry that I hurt you. I have learned from this experience, and I promise you that it will never happen again.” By taking responsibility, you show that you truly regret your actions and will not repeat them.
And it does need to be sincere. If you are not truly sorry, a false apology will just cause more trouble down the line.
2. Write an apology. Write a thoughtful card, email or letter. Sometimes, facing the person you hurt can be quite hard. In such situations, you can write an apology letter to them. Although this is not recommended over apologizing in person, it can be effective to get the ball rolling.
3. Talk about the reason behind the mistake. Talk about your struggle, any underlying reasons that may have led you to commit the mistake and how you will prevent it from happening in the future.
For example, if you felt lonely in your marriage and you strayed, take the initiative to discuss ways to strengthen your relationship and how you will handle it differently if you feel lonely again. Even if it is painfully uncomfortable, answer all of the other person’s questions.
4. Be specific. When apologizing, be specific about what you are apologizing for. It’s always better to say something like, “I am sorry that I shouted at you in public. It was very rude of me” instead of “I am sorry I was rude to you.” This indicates that you know the real reason that the person is upset.
5. Don’t make excuses. You have broken someone’s trust and making excuses to try to justify your actions is not going to help. When apologizing, make sure not to use ‘if’ or ‘but’. Again, this needs to be sincere.
6. Don’t be defensive or casual about the problem. You must be ready to put in a sincere effort to work out the issues. If you are defensive and angry, it will stop you from hearing or understanding the aggrieved person’s thoughts and feelings.
7. Offer a remedy to fix it. Once you apologize, offer a remedy to make up for your mistake.
For instance, if you canceled a movie plan with your best friend, as an apology treat her to a movie and offer to spend an entire day with her.
8. Be ready to sacrifice. You need to make sacrifices if you want to convince someone to trust you again. You need to let go of temptations, set aside things you love or cancel something that you planned to do out of concern for the other person. But don’t hold grudges about your sacrifices or expect compliments for it. That’s not the point.
9. Change your behavior. To regain someone’s trust, you need to show them that you have changed. The person whose trust you broke will not trust you unless your actions show you’re behaving in a trustworthy way – consistently. For this, you may need to examine and change some of your behaviors.
10. Give them time. Be patient and give the person you hurt enough time to think through things and decide whether to forgive you. The person will need time to believe what you say. If they want to cry or yell at you, let them. Just stand there, be strong, apologize and reach out to them with compassion and understanding about what they are going through. Recognize their right to be hurt and angry.
11. Avoid repeating your mistake. When you regain someone’s trust, be cautious not to break their trust again. Repeating your mistake could cause irreparable damage.
12. Be transparent in whatever you do. Be as transparent as possible, especially after you have betrayed the person’s trust. You may wish to give them access to your email, Facebook and other social media accounts. Maybe even allow them to go through your mobile phone. If something comes up in your life that might hurt the person, you should discuss it with them. Troubles arise when you hide things or conceal your feelings and thoughts.
13. Keep your promises. Call or be home when you say you will. Make sure to be true to your word and keep your promises. No lies, exceptions or excuses.
14. Do not lie. If you have a habit of lying, do whatever is needed to stop it. Most of the time, a lie or betrayal is the reason behind losing trust. Honesty will help you convince someone to trust you again. Lying will only make the person lose their trust and respect for you again.
15. Do not discuss your problems with others. Keep your problems private and avoid discussing them with others or writing about it on social media forums. The person whose trust you broke will highly appreciate this. If you need to work through your issues with a friend or professional, consider discussing this need with your partner first.
16. Be persistent in your approach. Initially, you may be rebuffed by the person you hurt, but don’t let that leave you disheartened. Don’t give up. If you feel dejected and angry, go away and come back later when you calm down.
17. Do not pressure the person to forgive you. Trust once lost takes effort to be regained. When someone gets hurt, it’ll take time for them to trust you again. So, do not pressure the person you hurt to hurry and forgive you. Do not pester them.
18. Learn from your mistakes. Let your pride take a backseat. Whether or not the person forgives you, make sure to use the mistake as a learning opportunity.
19. Accept it if it does not work out. Many times, broken trust can never be repaired. If that’s the case, it’s better to accept it and move forward. Remember, you don’t get to decide the terms for your partner’s trust, he or she does.
20. Forgive yourself. Breaking promises is human. If you know you have genuinely apologized and tried your best to convince someone to trust you again, understand that is all you can do.