What to do When Trust Slips Away

In one moment, I knew I’d eroded her trust in me. Recently I had one of those days where I should’ve just stayed at home. The kind of day where I felt overwhelmed caring for family members and too many deliverables in the hopper. Instead of paying attention, I ventured out and met a friend and colleague. She shared a decision and plans she’s making. My stress meter kicked in and I made unsupportive comments. I could feel the trust slip away.

We’ve all done it. No excuses.

It’s stressful days like this that the option of hiding under the covers isn’t possible. The question becomes, what could I have done better? And, what have I learned from this.

Stress and Trust are two very different concepts. And yet, put together the result can be devastating.

Let’s talk first about stress. We all have our own triggers and reactions to it. Yet we can learn to understand what it means for us, and the best way to go about our day without impacting others.

For me it’s spreading myself too thin, especially in caring for others. What is your trigger? Not enough sleep? Taking on too much?

Understanding our reaction to stress is equally important. I don’t focus and am distracted. This means I don’t practice active listening. I let my own narrative rule my head instead of paying attention to what others are saying and experiencing. And like my scenario above, I can blurt out instead of filtering my reaction.

How do you react when you’re stressed?

Unlike stress, trust is a delicate thing. Once we have it, we must tenderly nurture its presence. Philosophers have hotly debated the meaning of trust, but tend to agree that trust is a kind of reliance: to trust someone is to rely on them in a certain kind of way. We create trusting relationships that lean on the social construct of expectation.

My friend expected me to support her decision and be excited about her prospects. Her expectation represents her trust in me.

Trust is earned. But trust can just as easily slip away –  often when we’re overwhelmed. This intersection of trust and stress requires that we be deeply in tune to what another expects of us and to show up wholeheartedly to maintain their trust.

And when we don’t? There is only one viable path forward.

I contacted my friend and shared how sorry I was for my reaction. There were no excuses. I acknowledged her reaction in the moment. I shared how sorry I was to be insensitive and to not provide the reaction she was expecting.

My friend responded with her truth and the willingness to talk about how we move forward as friends and colleagues. I am deeply grateful.

What have I learned? Just how delicate trust is. I’m facing my own imperfection in the face of stress. I’m committed to noticing when I’m overwhelmed and to act/react with integrity. And I’m learning that letting trust slip away is never an option.

Tags: , ,

Trackback from your site.

Comments (10)

  • Avatar

    Amy

    |

    Love this Eve! A great reminder that even thoughtful, calm, and amazingly supportive leaders have their moments. 🙂

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Eve

      |

      We are all mere humans! Thanks Amy

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Patti

    |

    Beautifully written Eve and very honest. So typical these days to react due to certain circumstances and possibly ruin relationships. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Eve

      |

      Thank you Patti!

      Reply

  • Avatar

    S. Brooke Bailey

    |

    Thanks for sharing Eve. It’s raw. We’ve all been there and I appreciate you sharing your imperfection so that we can more easily embrace our own and step up to the plate to make amends and regain trust when we slip.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Eve

      |

      Thank You Brooke.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Diane Lloyd

    |

    This is a powerful blog post Eve and I applaud your courage and vulnerability with your sharing. I am really appreciating the awareness between trust and how we expect someone to show up – this will serve me well – thank you 🙂

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Eve

      |

      I agree Diane, it’s about expectations on both sides. And I’m realizing it’s so important to recognize other’s expectations of us.Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Jamee Tenzer

    |

    Thank you for sharing Eve! I know I have been there:) I notice that my capacity for presence and listening begins to disappear as my stress level goes up – and without presence and listening – trust is vulnerable. Love this blog!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Eve

      |

      Thanks jamee

      Reply

Leave a comment