Leaders Build Trust by Righting Wrongs

The Second Wave: Relationship Trust

Building the Wave of Relationship Trust requires deliberate trust-building behaviors.

We will start with some character-based behaviors, such as straight talk, showing respect, being transparent, righting wrongs, and showing loyalty. We’ll also explore the “counterfeit” versions of these behaviors. A counterfeit behavior is one that looks like the trust-building behavior, but instead of building trust, this behavior is distorted into something that tears trust down.

This week: Right Wrongs

Apologize quickly. When you are wrong, do more than just admit it; make restitution. Think “service recovery” even if you’re not in a service position. Show humility and resist the urge to cover up your behavior. Do not let your pride get in the way of doing the right thing.

The opposite of Righting Wrongs is denying or rationalizing wrongful behavior. Whereas denying or rationalizing wrongful behavior can be rare, a common “counterfeit” version of this behavior is covering up smoothly by finding ways to hide mistakes instead of repairing them. Also, not admitting the mistake until it’s discovered. In that case, the humbling comes from the circumstances rather than your character.

Apologizing puts you back in control rather than being a victim of circumstance. Using the four step apology model–Acknowledge, Apologize, Make it Right, Recommit–is the surest way to work your way back to trust.

What to do instead?

Say things like this:

  • It’s my fault.
  • I apologize for…
  • I did … and I apologize for that. You deserve better [from me].
  • I was wrong about…
  • What can I do to make this right?
  • Please tell me how we can help?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • What should I do differently next time?
  • How can we learn from this situation?
  • This is what we commit to do?
  • Is there anything I can do to follow up with you.

Admit it, apologize for it, make it right, and recommit. Right Wrongs to build trust.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

See more blog posts on The Speed of Trust.

#1: Leaders Invest in Trust
#2: Credibility Gaps: Leaders Know the Waves of Trust
#3: Behavior, Credibility, and the Wrong Kinds of Trust
#4: Leaders Know Credibility is Driven by Behavior
#5: Build Trust by Talking Straight
#6: Leaders Build Trust by Demonstrating Respect

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