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Want People To Trust You More?

March 6, 2014

Here’s an easy and powerful way to make someone feel like they matter, strengthen your relationship with them, and correct a problem all at the same time.

In a recent blog post, Seth Godin offered a few key words that are critical if you want to respond effectively to a gently offered criticism or correction:

. I

. Sorry

. Thank You

I add a 4th element to seal the deal:

. “Here’s what I’m going to do so it doesn’t happen again”.

The first 3 are necessary to get to 4.  On their own they may get the person off your back or get them to move on to another topic.  Adding the 4th is where the magic is.

Here’s an example.  I used to be a few minutes late every time I met a friend for breakfast.  Not crazy late, just a few minutes each time.  But I began to suspect that it was creating annoyance.  We have a routine where we take turns paying.  Once I noticed my behavior was creating a problem I offered my 1 through 3 apology.  And then I added step 4:  “If I’m late again I’ll pay for breakfast, even if it’s not my turn”.  I’ve never been late for breakfast with him since!  It’s not only given us lots of laughs, it also expressed the respect I have for my friend and his time.

This idea goes hand in hand with an earlier post that talked about an intention for change being empty unless it’s attached to a concrete plan to create the change (Change=Intention + A Plan.)

By adding step 4 the benefits to you are two-fold: the person knows you’re taking it/them seriously, and you’re going to solve a problem while it’s a manageable molehill.

Would love to hear your thoughts–please comment in the box below.

Much love,


  1. Ryan says:

    What’s great about number four is it is much more than one scenario. It causes you to be forward thinking, cause and effect. This is something I can say that I definitely learned from you mom at a young age and has benefited me ever since. Also at the end of the day most people want results. Whether it is a marriage, job, whatever. You still have to strive to conduct yourself ethically and learn the art behind it, but at the end of the day what ever you say you can/are going to do, you need to. This’s is a strategy that communicates that. “My word is my bond”.

    • Robyn says:

      wow! you just kind of blew me away here. i know these thoughts reflect some of your values, and to get even a tiny bit of credit for that is hugely meaningful to me.

    • Robyn says:

      Dick, I love this article on so many levels. It’s a perfect elaboration on the original idea.

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