Do you believe what you are told? Most Americans don’t. According to Gallup, sixty percent of Americans have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The distrust doesn’t stop there; Americans are less likely to perceive large industries as “generally honest and trustworthy,” according to a survey from Harris Interactive. Continuing the trend, a recent Harvard University Institute of Politics poll found less trust in government than ever before.

Are Americans really this suspicious? Yes, we are, says Corinne Hoare, Professor at American University School of Communication. In the court of public opinion, guilty until proven innocent is the rule according to Hoare. The daily deluge of scandals, cover-ups and malfeasance increase the public level of contempt. Hoare advocates avoiding the six sins of crisis communications that are guaranteed to make any situation even worse:

(1) Don’t lie

(2) Avoid displaying arrogance

(3) Don’t dither or delay

(4) Don’t stonewall

(5) Don’t pretend things are “OK”

(6) Don’t blame others

Americans are a forgiving people. However, a majority of Americans believe forgiveness is conditional. A poll from Michigan-based Fetzer Institute found that 60 percent of respondents said “forgiveness depends on if the offender apologized and made changes.” Make the change and stop falling victim to crisis communication sins.