Unpacking Trust

How to Rebuild Trust





We feel compelled to say it up front; rebuilding trust that was broken, either with intent or unintentionally, requires some willingness to forgive and move forward. Rebuilding trust often represents the most difficult work in this course. What we have been amazed by are three things:

  • Many times people have broken trust with another person, or team, or section of an organization and they don’t even know it.
  • In most cases, especially with one-on-one trust, misunderstanding is the root cause and unless trust gets unpacked it is too difficult to address.
  • People have long memories and hang on to something that literally happened a long time ago.

In one organization, and this is true, a person was bringing up an issue of broken trust with someone they thought was in another department of their company and the person they were referring to was long gone and literally no longer alive! The person struggling with broken trust was a key player in this organization, but was literally living in the past. Building trust requires each of us to forgive and move on. Please note: It doesn’t make what is being forgiven right, nor does it say it will be tolerated again. It simply says I forgive this wrong doing or misunderstanding and I am willing to move forward.

“Benefits [of forgiveness] may include greater happiness, improved health, sustainable relationships, and greater ability to demonstrate kindness and feelings of connectedness.”
– From the Research of Fred Luskin and Jack Kornfield


Definitions of Forgiveness:

1. A conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

2. a. To grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); b. To give up all claim on account of.

At an individual level, we’ve seen many little miracles happen. Unpacking trust allows people to pinpoint a trait instead of struggling with trust as a concept.

Consider the story of my trust exercise with that new SVP. What is different here is that this was a case of trust broken in a quiet, unspoken way. My lack of trust was based on his constant breaking of one-on-ones and I felt he was neither caring nor compassionate. I got to say things we would have never been able to talk about without a process to follow.                                     —Leb Tannenbaum

We rebuilt trust that was previously broken in an unspoken way and then intentionally built a high degree of trust that lasted until he retired. Was my heart pounding and were my palms sweaty during our trust meeting? You bet. That’s why Courage is one of the ten traits.



We’d love to hear your thoughts! This discussion is between Leb, Diane and their students, you’ll be able to talk to each other, and you can start a discussion of your own in the discussions tab.  It’s not public, it’s a private space for us to talk. Nothing improves trust like communication!