Breaking Trust


I broke someone’s trust a few weeks ago. It had nothing to do with me saying something out of school to someone else. I was in a situation that made me uncomfortable and when asked about it, repeatedly, I stood my ground and said nothing was wrong. I lied and the person knew I was lying. Yet, I refused to acknowledge what I was feeling in that moment, and I let that person down. I didn’t think about it again until last night, when she told me how she felt. She had been waiting for me to say something and I didn’t. I broke her trust and I’m crushed.

In the self-development and growth world of Expedition Self, it is understood that we are to be honest about our feelings regardless of where we are. Whether it’s at a kitchen table, a limousine ride to New York, or in a staff meeting on a Hangout; when asked how we’re doing, “fine,” is not the answer. Fine is not an emotion. It’s an escape. Fine is what you say to brush someone off. Fine is what you say when you “think” you might hurt someone’s feelings and you really don’t want to do that. Fine is my word for not taking responsibility for how I feel. I repeatedly answered “fine” that night. Truth be told, I was far from it. And she knew it. In that moment, I wasn’t being honest. That’s when I broke her trust.

Trust is a funny thing. It can take a lifetime to earn and a moment to lose. In relationships of any kind, trust is built one word, gesture or thought at a time. When one person in the relationship chooses to ignore the feelings or words of the other, trust can start to erode. Do it enough times and you lose the trust of the other person, permanently.

I shared, in a personal growth moment, how I felt about that uncomfortable situation with someone else, who then shared it with the person I lied to. Why it never occurred to me that it would eventually find its way back to her or myself is beyond me. It did. And my heart hurts because of it. I don’t blame the person I shared this with. I wasn’t honest in the first place. I own it, it’s mine. No judgment here, just truth.

I apologized… profusely, and cried. She is a very important person in my life — personally and professionally, and she accepted my apology with grace. The thought that she might hold me at arm’s length for a while, while I rebuild the trust she once had in me, makes me sad. And determined.

It was a good lesson for me —  for this relationship, and for all other relationships that I have. If you can’t trust those close to you to be honest with you, always, whom can you trust?

Photo credit: Leading with Trust

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