3 Powerful Words You Should Say at the Office

What are three of the most powerful words in the English language? No, it’s not the three that immediately spring to mind. While telling your spouse, significant other or partner, “I love you,” is always a good idea, saying that to people at work will just lead to a rash of sexual harassment lawsuits and probable termination. Let’s rephrase the question to, “What are the three most powerful words in business?”


If used in the right way, the three game-changing words are, “I did it.” One of the reasons they are so powerful is because they are so rarely heard in the office. It’s commonplace to blame others, the weather, technology, the dog or whatever that we sometimes seem to forget the ugly truth. Sometimes we make mistakes.


The funny thing about owning up to our mistakes is that it can be very empowering. The best way to avoid a lecture? Say, “I did it.” The other person is ready for a huge argument. They have all their facts lined out to shoot your excuses down, but now what can they say? “Oh, OK. Try not to let it happen again.” Anything more than that just comes off as being mean. Kind of like kicking a person when they’re down.


Of course, this only works in certain scenarios. First, it’s assumed that you don’t make a lot of mistakes. Otherwise, the problem might be that … perhaps … you’re in the wrong line of work. However, assuming you’re not incompetent and you only make occasional mistakes, you should be allowed an occasional “Oops!” moment and the accompanying “I did it.”

Powerful words won’t mask insincerity

The second and even more vital key to putting this phrase to good use is remorse. You must actually regret making a mistake.


If you’re not truly sorry, it shows. The cop that pulled you over knows if you’re really sorry you were speeding. She’s a master of reading inflection, body language and all the nuances of the English language. In the same way, your boss, your peers and co-workers become expert at determining when you’re sincere and when you’re trying to hide something.


The third point to remember is to fix your mistakes. If you must approach a co-worker to tell them you made an error, do everything in your power to correct the issue in advance, or assure them that correcting it is your highest priority. Then make sure it is. So say, “I did it. I’m sorry. I’ll fix it.” We all make mistakes, so let’s try to make the best of them and move on.


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