Building Trust – 5 of the Hardest Words to Say

“I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

And it’s equally important counterpart…

“I’m sorry. I messed up.”

Each phrase contains 5 words that are hard to say but 5 words that are extremely liberating when said.

Why are they so hard?

What are we trying to prove? Why the desire to always be “right”? Why the fear of letting someone know we’re human and capable of mistakes? Why the ego? Why the facade?

Trust isn’t built that way. Trust doesn’t hide behind these 5 words. Trust is built by being transparent, accountable and real. It isn’t about being right all the time, it’s about being honest and stepping up to the plate when you are wrong and when you’ve messed up. It doesn’t mean your admission is a hall pass for the consequences but it does mean that you have integrity and hopefully a desire to make amends.

I’d much rather have someone on my team who is honest and who can admit their mistakes when they make them versus someone who just tries to cover their tracks to save face. That may work in the short-term but eventually it gets found out and when it does, trust is impaired to a great degree.

Being truthful can be tough when we’re wrong or let someone down but it’s in how we respond that makes all the difference.

It’s a choice. A choice we need to make at home, at work and in everything we do.

How do you handle these 5 words? Are they tough for you? How do you build trust with others?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I use these words all the time–they work wonders with my students. By acknowledging my own mistakes, I pull the kids up to my level and I show them that mistakes are not the end of the world. These words really do make a difference in my classroom.

  • You're right, trust is built when you are transparent.

    I noticed you tagged this under leadership. For a leader, these words need to come quickly when you are wrong. I had several leadership roles last year and I learned that if you want to gain trust, do not pretend that you are right when you know you're wrong. It just makes you look like a liar. Nice blog, glad I found it.

    • Exactly Ralph. For a leader there is power in transparency.

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  • Brenda

    Honesty is the best policy.. Great words.. Thanks!!