Restoring Trust with Clients

In my previous blog posts, I’ve compared client relationships to our everyday social, family, and romantic relationships. And in this post, I continue that idea. The relationships that we form with our clients are very similar to the other types of relationships that we form in our life. One aspect or piece of a relationship is trust. Trust can be built up, or destroyed, in a second, or over a span of time.

Most all of us have had relationships in our lives (in our social lives) where trust has been broken down before. We’ve had the choice to move on from these relationships, or to work on repairing the broken trust and restoring that relationship. But it’s also a two way street. Both parties of the relationship have the ability to walk away with the broken trust, or try to repair that relationship. This whole idea also applies to our relationships with our clients.

I am going to spend most of this blog post to go through an article titled “Restoring Trust: Seven Steps to Restore Confidence” written by Olivia Mellan. In her article, she talks about how to restore trust that has been broken. One of the best lines in the article (before I dive into the seven points,) is that “acts of betrayal, large and small, happen in virtually every personal or professional relationship. The important thing is how we deal with and resolve them, and the breaches of trust that follow.” So the steps that she gives, help us with repairing those betrayals of trust. I am going to do brief summaries of each point, and relate each point to some of my personal experiences. If you are interested in more detailed information on each step, or non-paraphrased versions, check out her article by itself (it’s a good read.)

1. Observe and Acknowledge

Don’t be arrogant and admit that it never happened, if you are in the place that you are, SOMETHING happened that needs to be repaired, and you need to acknowledge your piece in that problem. As my dad always said, it takes two to dance. And then also look for how it not only affected you and the client, but others that might have been involved in some manner or another.

2. Let Past Feelings (and hurt) Resurface

You must allow your feelings, and the clients feelings to come to the top so that they can be addressed. If either of you keep feelings deep down, they are never going to get addressed. And they need to be addressed before those bridges can be repaired and trust can be (even partially) restored.

3. Give and Get Support

Make sure that you are giving support to the client. Once again, it’s a two-way street (that’s just how relationships are), and remember that you also need to allow for the other party to give you support.

4. Reframe the Experience

You need to keep the experience in perspective. Don’t forget that everyone is just a human and mistakes can happen. Be quick to forgive and move on, and not be stuck in the past. Remember to think back to a busy time in your life and all of the little things that can affect everyday activities – even work.

5. Take Responsibility

This to me is very similar to the first one (Observe and Acknowledge). You need to be quick to take responsibility for your actions, and your part of the problem, and not just blame them for their part.

6. Forgive Everyone

You need to forgive everyone. You need to forgive the client, even if they are at fault, and you also need to forgive yourself (which can be even more difficult sometimes.)

7. Let Go of the Past and Move Forward

I can’t even tell you how many times Deloy has said this to our class. You need to forget about the past, leave it there. Move on, move forward and fix things in the future.


In summary, all of those things seem like they are all Biblical principles to me. Acknowledging your sin or part of a problem, forgiving people and yourself, taking responsibility, moving on, etc. There have been many times that I have messed up in a relationship with a client. Whether it was missing a deadline, not listening to them, making a mistake, deleting something they still needed, and so forth. I started working with clients when I was 12, and I can say how important all of those seven steps really are. I have kept some client relationships for years now, and it feels really good.

If you want another great article, you should check out some (101) really simple ways to build trust (with clients):

Below are some images related to this topic, each kind of explains itself (so I will restrain myself from explaining the obvious and how they relate to the topic.)


agency-client-trust-graph download (1) download images (1) images

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