Managing Mondays: Betrayed

It was a begrudging incident the day we voted for fourth grade class officers. I remember it well…

The year was 1984; incumbent President Ronald Reagan and former Vice President Walter Mondale were vying for our nation’s top spot. As an exercise in political campaigning, my fourth grade teacher opened the door for us to campaign as class officers. My chosen position was Class Secretary. My opponent – a cute, kind-hearted girl who I had befriended since pre-school.

We campaigned through the classroom working to secure the votes of our classmates. Election Day arrived and each member of the class cast their votes for President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Once the ballots were tallied, the officers were announced. Each of the positions belonged to a single winner. Except one…

“But wait… there is a tie!

As it turns out,the votes were split 50/50 for the position of Class Secretary. With neither candidate willing to concede the position to the other, the teacher called for a revote. Prior to casting the second round of ballots, my opponent (the sweet, kind, girl who I had known for the majority of my life; the one who I sat next to in class) leaned over to me and offered an olive branch.

She said “If you vote for me, I will vote for you.”

Wow, such a kind offer; a show of support for true friendship by supporting one another, no matter which of us wins we’d know this election, would not come between us. I was so hopeful and uplifted. Friendship reigned! Kindness prevailed! Selfishness never had a chance!

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The second round of voting commenced, the teacher counted the ballots and this time there was a clear winner. The announcement was made, “The winner, by a single vote is…,” we’ll just say, it wasn’t me.

Disappointed by the loss, I vowed to go on supporting my friend who I had shared a keen friendship with for so many years.

But wait, this just in! Word had spread through the classroom newswire, the vote that tipped the scales in my opponents advantage, was….her own! My long time friend had broken our pact; she tricked me and voted for herself.

My feeling was that of devastation. “How could someone do such a thing? How could my life long friend deceive me?” I thought. The anguish of this event hit me hard, it was this day that I learned an early lesson in life.

I learned the lesson of BETRAYAL!

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Betrayal can strike us hard: obviously – for me to refer back to this incident from more than 25 years ago shows this clearly. It is a life lesson most of us learn at some point along our path, but one not easily forgotten.

Once trust is broken, can it ever be repaired? Sure, but it is not going to happen overnight and it is not going to come easily. Trust can take years to rebuild. Of course, trust is something you have to believe in and work hard at to rebuild once it has been destroyed. It also takes a boatload of forgiveness upfront and along the way.

What is betrayal?

Betrayal is the breaking or violation of a presumptive social contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship.

Resolving Betrayal
The first question should be, “Do both parties want to repair the relationship?” If not, then you cannot force it on them, it is best to move on. Hopefully with time, forgiveness will come.

If both parties are in agreement and would like to move forward rebuilding the relationship, then it needs to begin with courageous integrity on behalf of the offender. The guilty party needs to:

  • Admit fault.
  • State their mistake.
  • View the breach of trust from the victim’s perspective.
  • Listen to the offended party allowing them to speak without interruption.
  • Reflect their feelings, avoiding the temptation to explain your actions (as this can have a negative affect leading to a feeling of your insincerity by the injured party.)
  • Accept responsibility for the violation.

Rebuilding Trust
Can trust be rebuilt? Most likely, with time the wounds will heal. Although steps will have to be taken to rebuild the trust once shared by all parties.

  • Set up an agreement going forward stating boundaries for all parties involved.
  • Determine methods continuing the relationship without overstepping the bounds.
  • Allow time for memory of the incident to dissipate.
  • Make amends.


Even when forgiveness has been granted and reparations have been made, relationships do not always return to normal after violations of trust. The violator often has lingering feelings of guilt, embarrassment,and self-consciousness when around the victim. It may take time for the victim’s emotions to wane as well. Full forgiveness may take weeks, months or even years, but if everyone involved is committed to the relationship time will help to heal those wounds.

Additionally, the offended can help the process by verbalizing true forgiveness and building a bridge back to a healthy relationship. Often, when someone loses face over their own action, they have jumped the “river of shame” and will never come back unless explicitly asked to. And, they will need that bridge built by the offended. It just seems to work that way…

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So, do I resent my fourth grade friend for something that happened so many years ago? No, let’s face it, we were nine years old at the time. I have long forgiven her. In fact, I am actually thankful for the incident. My nine-year old friend’s actions represents to me someone who alerted me to the disheartening stratagem that we can all experience in life. She taught me early on that trust is a sacred contract between people. And once broken, it is not easily repaired. People learn from many of life’s lessons, but few have such a great impact on us as those of trust and betrayal.

Do you have any stories of betrayal? Feel free share, I’d love to hear them.

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Jason Christensen is National Accounts Manager for The Stanley Works.
He can be reached at


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4 responses to “Managing Mondays: Betrayed

  1. Tom, this is a great site. I was a wiz at desktop publishing for hundreds of co’s including my own, but this PC stuff deduces me to an idiot over and over.

    I like your story. It was so real and so true. Trust – an issue broken at any time in life – in my opinion; I don’t think it can be prepared, it can only be replaced by the depth of your new changed personal trust investment.


  2. It is an interesting yet sad story 😦 . However, Jason had an early lesson on ” trust” and friendship.

    The X-Files series tagline; “Trust No One !” or an auditor one – ” In God we trust, the rest we audit ” do make senses in this complicated, intricate and sophisticated world.

    However, at the very least Jason, you should be proud of yourself, that you are someone that can be trusted, a man full of integrity and consistent with your words and actions, and kept your promises. I believe , it took a lot of convincing to yourself to keep the promises . [ Unless you are blinded by the beauty of the girl :)] of which I rest my case lol.


  3. Pingback: A Gals Guide to Making Up Get Guy Back | Ways to Making Up·

  4. As an HR Administrator myself, one of the most vital human resources issues for employers and managers to be aware of is the current employment law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act is one of the largest human resources issues today. The law requires EEO compliance of all employers in the United States.


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