Can you rebuild broken trust?

“people ask me why it’s so hard to trust people, and i ask them why is it so hard to keep a promise?”

~ QTangel,

My buddy, George, told me the other day about the new manager where he works, a nation-wide retail store chain. There are dozens of employees at his location.  The new store manager called an all-hands meeting and proceeded to tell them that they should consider themselves on notice that she was not above firing any one of them for any reason, any time.  That was part a significant part of her introductory address to her new constituents.

George went on to say that lots of people thought about looking for new jobs.  That happened a few months ago.  Since then, a few employees reported her for how she talked down to them or humiliated them.  Apparently even a customer complained.

Now the manager has turned over a new leaf.  She is being nicer.  She is not talking down to the employees.  George’s words were, “She talks to us more on our level.”  He also added, “I have no idea what she would have to do for me to trust her now though.”

When trust has been betrayed, can it be recovered?

I’ve been asking people this question.  What I hear is it would take some humongous proof before trust could be restored.  How?  How does one provide that proof?  George said this about his store manager, “She can act nice all she wants, but how do I know it’s sincere?”  Yeah.  I hear you.

Off the top of my head I know I would need to see consistency in the demonstration of humility and respect.  I also think I would need to see some version of a “debt paid.”  I would have to see or receive something from you that I know means something to you —something that takes vulnerability or sacrifice for you to admit or give.  But again, how do I gauge the sincerity?

I know I could consult studies, books, and the wisdom of the ages, but today I don’t want to.  I want to know what the wisdom-holders of this community think.

What are your thoughts?  When trust has been betrayed, can it be recovered and if so, how?

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