In every aspect of life, we form relationships with the people around us. Trust is always a key measurement of how strong our bond is with the people around us. Be it at work, play or even at home, trust comes in to every facet of what we do. To build trust is something that most people know how to do already but this article is not about building trust.We’re discussing today something much tougher than just building trust: Regaining lost trust.

“To err is human”, Alexander Pope (1688-1744). Making mistakes is unavoidable, even if the environment requires perfection, there is always space for error. Take for instance Nuclear Reactors. Nuclear Reactors need a perfect system to keep them going, any slight mistake may snowball into a nuclear meltdown. In every nuclear power plant, there are multiple levels of safety and the highest standards of safety are practiced. Yet with all these safety measures in place, the recent Fukushima Daiichi incident still happened.What went wrong then? Multiple reports have been written for this incident and most of them pointed to a lack of rehearsals amongst the staff in the event of a natural disaster like an earthquake. It seemed that due to the busy schedule of all the staff, it was hard to organize safety simulations for different scenarios. If mistakes can happen in a place like a Nuclear Plant, what about amongst friends or even the workplace?

When mistakes happen, working relationships may sour and trust wavers. The tricky thing about trust is that it is just so easy to lose. One little slip-up and the trust that you have built over time with your colleagues drops by quite a bit. Especially for a leader where the trust of your team is in your hands, it is inevitable that along the long and winding road of success, there will be times where you fumble. To gain back the trust of your team, there is the TRUST model: Transparency, Respect, Understanding, Small Steps, Thankfulness.

This TRUST model is encompasses 5 key concepts. Each concept will be illustrated with a brief guideline on how to achieve them.

  1. Transparency. Be transparent with what you do and how you do. Make your actions accountable so that your team knows what you are up to. According to research by Dr Brad Rawlings on organizational transparency, he has highlighted three areas where transparency helps build trust:

Informational Transparency means openness. Make publically available all legally releasable information — whether positive or negative in nature — in a manner which is accurate, timely, balanced, and unequivocal. The information needs to be substantial for the parties involved. Disclosure by itself does not equal transparency; in fact some forms of disclosure can defeat the purposes of transparency.

Participatory Transparency is what separates transparency from disclosure. Transparency cannot be successful unless you know what stakeholders want and need to know. So, to ensure that the information shared is relevant and useful, stakeholders must be allowed to identify what they need to know. We need only ask and they would give.

Accountability Transparency. Transparency holds people accountable for their actions, words and decisions. Rawlins cited The Naked Corporation: If you’re going to be naked, you’d better be buff. In other words if you are going to let people see what you have, then you’d better have a good act going.

  1. Respect. When something goes wrong in the workplace, tension rises and moods heat up. Gaining back control of the situation is crucial and the very first step is to calm things down. Having an abrasive attitude and nonchalant attitude will definitely not get people to respond to you. As the perpetrator or even the peace maker, we need to give each party due respect. One does not have to like a person or understand his viewpoint to accord him respect for respect is such a fundamental value. Respect comes with the belief that a person or culture can have beliefs contradictory to ours and we can still honor them.

Research on how doctors treat patients and the resultant level of trust patients in their doctors is correlated to how much respect and care they give to their patients not how technically sound they were (Thom, 2001). Even though this piece of research is on doctors and patients, for us in the organization, there is something to learn: The amount of respect you give to
your peers commands the level of trust that they may then give to you.

  1. Understanding. Before trust may be regained, we have to first understand what’s going on. For without having a grip on the situation, we might unknowingly offend.We need to understand two key factors, the situation and the people:

The situation:What happened to create this situation;What were the factors that led up to this situation;What are the consequences of this situation;

The people:Who are the people involved; Who are the people we have to address;What are their beliefs (no matter how disagreeable we are to them); What are their needs.

Yourself:What went wrong to create the situation that you are in? How did you contribute to the breakdown?Where are your blind spots that have created this error?Was there an overestimation of your own abilities?

In 1950, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham created a model termed the Johari Window that helps people spot their blindspots and help create personal awareness. It creates a mental framework for us to check on all facets of us and it has prescribed some very simple steps to attain higher awareness and understanding of any situation. Completing the window will shed more light into your understanding of the situation and other people’s beliefs. It is such a simple model that most would look at it in scorn and ask why would they do something that may equate to common sense. People have various abilities to handle stress, and in a situation of distress, sometimes common sense is sent out through the window. Having a framework, particularly a simple framework helps guide a person back on track.

  1. Small Steps. Trust is like a tower of coins, every coin counts.When trust is lost, the tower falls and the coins are scattered. Regaining our trust will be like building this stack of coins again where every coin counts. Some people try to compensate for their mistakes by attempting a bigger harder task to redeem themselves but this puts them at a risk of losing even more. Not to mention if the task involves a team that has lost trust in their team leader, it will be unlikely that the big task will be completed beautifully. Overpromising and under delivering leads you no where. Take it slow, one coin a time. Set small goals and take small steps. It takes people time to slowly rebuild their trust in you again.When realistic and achievable goals are set and met, trust will gradually build again. More ever under promising provides you space to over deliver.

When it comes to setting small goals, the S.M.A.R.T mnemonic developed by George T. Doran (1981) comes in handy. Respectively they are:

Specific – Be specific about the objectives that you want to achieve because the more specific your goals are, the clearer you are about them. More ever in a situation where you are trying to rebuild trust, you probably want the people around you to be clear about what you are doing as well.

Measurable – These goals need to be measurable because if it is not, the team would not know if you or they are making progress. Knowing where their progression motivates a team and motivates you.

Achievable – Setting too lofty goals will lead to utter disappointment. The goals need to be achievable and realistic for you to have credibility.

Relevant – Your goals need to be relevant to the vision of the team for it to be worthwhile both to yourself and to the time of the team.

Time-bound – Lastly it needs to be time-bound so that the team may know when to expect the achievement of each goals. Nobody likes not knowing when a task will end.

  1. Thankfulness. Appreciation has to be shown to the team members that helped you. For without fear of failure, these people placed their trust in you. Even though you messed up, a little gratitude may go a long way. By showing appreciation, not only do you show people that you are apologetic for what happened, you also demonstrate humility and the willingness to correct any wrongs. Lower your pride and demonstrate thankfulness to your peers. One challenge in this is that if done insincerely, you might just get the opposite effect.

To be thankful, a GIFT may be all we need.

Gratitude – People like being appreciated for their contributions and sacrifices, especially those who helped you and those who are willing to give you a chance.

Importance – People like being given a sense of importance and knowing their role in the organization and the team. Making them feel important helps you to re-connect with the people you want to build trust in.

Fairness – Assure people that if anything went wrong, consequences are fairly dealt with and that includes yourself; If there are any rewards that are to beget after placing their trust in you again, they have to be equal and fairly distributed.

Touch – Your team needs to know that you genuinely care about them. They need to feel the connection with you and feel your sincerity.

The TRUST model may not be the only model that helps anyone rebuild lost trust yet it provides a very simple framework to rebuild what was lost. This model does not dictate a specific method to rebuild trust but it provides the key ingredients that will help foster trust within the team. Rebuilding trust is never an easy task and it takes much time and effort. We would not need this model if every one is able to survive in an environment where cooperation and a team is not needed. No man is an island, therefore trust is still vital for the survival of a
team and an organization. It is never too late to regain trust. Some people make the mistake of thinking that they will never earn back trust again but as the saying goes “its better late than never.”


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objectives. Management Review, Volume 70, Issue 11AMA FORUM, pp. 35-36.
Heathfield, S.M. How to rebuild trust at work. About.Com, Human Resources.
Lederach. J.P., (2003). The Little Book of Conflict Transformation. USA, Oregon:
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Luft, J.; Ingham, H. (1950). The Johari window, a graphic model of interpersonal
awareness. Proceedings of the western training laboratory in group development.
Los Angeles: UCLA.
Martinuzzi’s B. (2006) The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person
OthersWant to Follow. USA , Six Seconds Publishing.
Pope, Alexandar (1709). An essay on criticism.
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transparency and trust. The measurement standard, Vol 8, pp 425 – 439.
Thom, D.H. (2001). Physician behaviors that predict patient trust. The
Journal of family Practice.Vol. 50, No. 4




If you follow the news about SMRT, you would find much information about how that day of unexpected delays happened. Having spoken to friends who work in SMRT, the picture they
painted wasn’t pretty, no doubt the trains would hit a point of critical mass. This inspired a story, one about SAW-ing too, well sawing trees that is.

There was once a lumberjack who provided firewood to the neighboring villages. He had a small little cottage in the woods and a few helping hands who diligently worked for him. His father had tended to the forest, so did his father’s father and so will his son, Peter. Being the loving father that he is, he wanted the best for his son and sent his son around the kingdom for an education.

Peter was exposed to the world and was very fascinated with everything sparkling and new. He was amazed at how fast the rest of the world was compared to his tiny little cottage in the forest.Through his travels an idea formed and brewed, one that would definitely make his father proud.

After a few years of traveling around the region, Peter finally returned. He approached his father with his new ideas and they were received with a warm smile. His father listened intently and nodded in approval. “Take my axe,” said the old lumberjack.

With his ideas set into action, he became a very busy man. He got himself brand new chainsaws, bulldozers and all kinds of strong looking machinery from the friends he met around the kingdom. He sent out fliers for workers and employed a whole lot more workers. Peter was turning his quiet forest into a booming business.

All his plans worked, money was flowing in and so were contracts. As the years went by, his business got better and better. He wanted more. It was all not enough. He did his mathematics and an idea struck him. His best ever idea. He took the idea to his father but his father only frowned. Old ideas need to make way for newer ones, thought Peter to himself and he ignored his father’s objection.

So one day he walked amongst his workers and selectively handed out envelopes. You see, these envelopes contained letters of goodbye. He realized that he could hire stronger workers who were younger, faster and cheaper. All of his dad’s workers were sent home. He started to hire workers based on how strong they were.

True enough, his business doubled! Peter wagged his success in front of his father but the old lumberjack merely shook his head.

Ten years passed and Peter was highly successful. The old lumberjack watched his son’s growth and frowned for he knew better. Success to him was not measured by wealth. Within that year, his workers reported to him a problem: the forest was shrinking. It wasn’t because the trees were not growing fast enough, but somehow usable land was growing more and more
scarce. He sought desperately to solve the problem yet none of his workers could help him. They had never encountered such a situation before!

By the end of the year, the company’s productivity had dropped to only half of the previous year’s produce. By the end of the following year, the company was in debt. He needed guidance. He swallowed his pride and approached his father for help.

The old lumberjack looked at his son and sighed. This was what he predicted ten years ago. Being a lumberjack wasn’t just about chopping down trees faster. It was about maintaining the balance in the ecosystem and most of all allowing the forest to thrive. Being a lumberjack was never about felling trees only; A true lumberjack was also the guardian of the forest. Peter had over harvested the forest and the land was not given enough time to rest. Without the experience of the older workers, there was no one who could warn Peter of this impending problem over the course of the years. He couldn’t see that his actions were harming the forest and not protecting it because he was blinded by ambition. The old lumberjack knew what needed to be done.

In this story who was to err?

Was it Peter for his ambition and greed? No doubt he was greedy and wanted more, but he did bring the company to greater heights and provided his family with abundance.

Or was it the old lumberjack’s fault for not stopping his son when he saw what was coming ? He wanted to give his son a chance to take over the company and giving him a chance means allowing him to take full responsibility, for all its successes and failures too isn’t it?

We often find this problem in organizations and in our own daily lives. Just to meet targets and achieve instant results, we use instant methods. Yet in many things in life, instant results may result in instant failure. There are so many examples of companies who seek maximum profits and start laying off their senior staff but they didn’t realize that its not the paychecks that they were cutting out, its the wealth of knowledge and experience contained in these people that is cut out. Then again, at what point do we decide that old methodology is outdated? On a personal level, we may make the mistake of taking shortcuts just to reach our targets faster. Just think about it, weren’t there times in your life when you chose to take the shorter route and it turned out to cause more trouble for you? An important idiom to remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day; so let’s start brick by brick.






I found this article online last night and would like to share it with you all. There is wisdom in its simplicity. My favorite point is point 8. Every one has different ways of experiencing flow and to be able to fully immerse yourself in it is a blessing. Find your flow!

Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives. (Check out her book The How of Happiness.)

  1. Express gratitude.– When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident
    in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
  2. Cultivate optimism. –Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless
    opportunities, especially in trying times.
  3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison.– Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out! If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t
    stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
  4. Practice acts of kindness.– Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us
    feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on. A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin. Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
  5. Nurture social relationships.– The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely? WHOA! There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with. We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
  6. Develop strategies for coping.– How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable. Forrest Gump knows the
    deal. It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
  7. Learn to forgive.– Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being. You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion. When you ‘hate’
    someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system. You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
  8. Increase flow experiences.– Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task. Action and
    awareness are merged. You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your
  9. Savor life’s joys.– Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
  10. Commit to your goals.– Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
  11. Practice spirituality.– When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work
    they’re “called to do.”
  12. Take care of your body.– Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected. Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft? Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who
    participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self accomplishment and self-worth.

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