As the fallout from the Defiance incident continues, we see the toll it takes on our principles. The show opens ten months after Verna’s death and the President’s discovery of the ballot tampering engineered by his team. Besides the destructive bent this has had on his personality the greatest casualty is the trust in those he counted on. Not only did they do something he wouldn’t approve of they sought to keep it from him. Certainly his trust in them has taken a huge hit, despite the fact they hid the truth from Fitz to protect him. Now, ten months later, he continues to hold them at arm’s length and has seemingly severed his relationship with Olivia.
Sometimes the greatest consequence of any crisis can be loss of faith in the guilty party. For many who depend on public support, in business as well as politics, the loss of trust is devastating and will usually lead to a loss of position. With Fitz, at this point, it is a personal betrayal; if it were to become public there would be an explosion of consequences. Fitz feels betrayed by those he counted on, especially painful regarding Olivia whom he loves. In his eyes, their credibility has been shattered and he isolates himself emotionally from them and seems to express almost disgust when dealing with them. (I find it interesting that despite Fitz’s outrage he does nothing to correct the matter by going public or possibly resigning)
The above process is not only relevant to those who operate on the bigger than life scale but equally so for all of us. Credibility is something we all rely on and it can be seriously undermined when our actions differ from our words. It doesn’t have to involve something of the magnitude of a presidential election it can be as simple as saying we did something only to have it discovered that we didn’t. How do we rebuild that trust? It takes time, usually a lot of it if one is allowed that much. Your actions have to be true; you must sincerely ask for forgiveness; and your future actions have to be above question. Or maybe you can build off your success and credibility in something related. Fitz no longer trusts Cyrus because of what he perceives as a personal betrayal. As such he shuts him out but in reality there is no question that Cyrus can still serve a useful purpose in advising Fitz on political steps and policy – in general, running the country. But once distrust is established it’s very difficult for it not to spread to other aspects of the person. Re-building trust is much harder than building it in the first place.
Judy A. Smith is the founder and President of Smith and Company, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm with offices in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles as well as a Co-Executive Producer of ABC's Scandal. You can follow her on Twitter (@JudySmith_) or "Like" her on Facebook, and you can get more information about managing personal and professional crisis situations by visiting her site, judysmith.com.