Archive for October 3, 2009

Where’s the trust?

I asked the Twitterverse a question earlier last week. My tweet was simply: “People make mistakes. Is there a limit to what you will forgive?”  I received some interesting direct messages from people.  I am sure you think murder, adultery, lying, stealing and such would be high on the list. They were. Some consider these a break in trust so great, there is no regaining of that trust; not under any circumstances. But there were others who said that they could forgive anyone anything if the person was remorseful, apologetic and if necessary, served time for the crime through community service, a fine, or incarceration.

Is trust limitless or finite? Do you have a limit to what you will forgive a person and then move forward?

It has been an interesting decade in terms of scandals.  I am not going to rehash the big one’s in our largest organizations but suffice it to say, September 28th’s Business Week shared that only 44% of American trust businesses today compared to 58% two years ago.  That may not be significant, but that Fall seems to be the pinnacle of American’s trust in big business in an 8 year period. It has also led to a cascade of leadership books dedicated to the topic of trust.

Recently, there has been onslaught of politicians caught in adulterous situations. And in recent days, David Letterman has admitted to having affairs with members of his staff. And this is a man who has made millions off making fun of the very same people he himself is just like.  Does this make you question his credibility and integrity? For Letterman in particular, this came to light due to an extortion plot. We do not know if his wife had been previously aware and their relationship already through a healing process.

The question isn’t that they made these mistakes. That is a conversation for another post. The question is, could you forgive a mistake like that? What would it take? Could you rebuild the trust that has been shattered?

I was with a boyfriend many years ago that stole from me.  For me, the trust was gone. I never believed anything he said and questioned every word that was uttered.  I could not get past the lies nor the stealing, mainly because he was never genuinely sorry and because he was a repeat offender.  Had he been truly sorry and didn’t repeat the act, I would have been able to move on and would have been able to trust him again.  For me, there was a limit to what I could forgive with this person.

I believe that we all make mistakes. We are human.  Sometimes temptations do get the best of us despite our beliefs in ourself. It becomes a crisis of faith. Not just for the person who was affected, but also for the person who committed the act. I am not condoning any action a person has committed. But I do believe people on both sides of the issue have reactions to the situation.

This, I believe, is the true heart of the situation. How could someone make the mistake to begin with? How is it that this one time, they were not able to resist temptation? But just as the person is asking this questions to the guilty, I believe that same person is asking himself these very questions. These are not easy questions.  There aren’t always easy answers.

People make mistakes. Is there a limit to what you will forgive?


October 3, 2009 at 10:36 am 2 comments

October 2009
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