Always and Never

Complete this sentence by filling in the blanks with suitable words or phrases:

I always trust ________________ because ___________________________.

Now complete a different type of sentence:

I never trust ________________ because __________________________.

This is what your participants will be doing at the beginning of this trust building activity. They will end the activity by preparing a checklist for increasing their personal trustworthiness.


Fill in the blanks to complete sentences that identify trustworthy people and their behaviors as well as untrustworthy people and their behaviors. Share the sentences with people from other teams and with members of your own team. Analyze the sentences to create a checklist for increasing personal trustworthiness.


To identify behaviors to be implemented (and avoided) to increase personal trustworthiness


Minimum: 4

Maximum: Any number

Best: 12 to 30


15 to 30 minutes


Fill-in-the-blanks forms. Two different versions, one copy for each participant.

PDF master copy of the forms.

Supplies and Equipment

  • Sheets of flip chart paper
  • Thick felt markers
  • Masking tape
  • Timer

Room Setup

  • Tables with chairs around them for teamwork
  • Open space for the participants to wander around and pair up
  • Wall space for posting flip chart checklists


Become familiar with the activity. Review the instructions. If possible, walk through the activity with a co-facilitator.

Copy the forms.  Duplicate the PDF version of forms. Make the required number of copies.


Organize teams. Assemble two to eight teams, each with two to five participants. It does not matter if some teams have one more members than the others. Seat each team around a table.

Distribute the forms. Give a copy of each of the two forms to each participant.

Fill in the blanks. Ask the participants to study both the forms. Give examples of completed sentences:

I never trust politicians because they make empty promises.

I always trust Peace Corp volunteers because of their selfless service.

Ask the participants to work independently and complete the five sentences in each form. Announce a 3-minute time limit.

Ask the participants to form pairs. At the end of 3 minutes, ask the participants to stand, walk around, and pair up with another participant from a different team. Ask them to exchange their forms, study the completed sentences, and have a brief conversation. Ask them to get their forms back and pair up with some other participant. Remind the participants not to pair up with members of their own team.

Return to the team. Ask the participants to go back to their table and exchange their forms with each other. Also ask them to recall and share other ideas they got from the other participants.

Prepare a checklist. Distribute a sheet of flip chart paper and a felt marker to each team. Ask the team members to reflect on the ideas from the completed sentences and come up with a checklist of things to do and things to avoid in order to increase personal trustworthiness. Encourage the participants to generate as many checklist items as possible. However, limit them to listing the five most effective items on their flip chart sheet. Announce a 3-minute time limit for this activity.

Post the checklists on the wall. At the end of 3 minutes, blow the whistle and distribute a roll of masking tape to each team. Ask the participants to tape their checklists to the wall.

Conduct a gallery walk. Invite the participants to review the different checklists mounted on the wall, paying particular attention to the similarities and differences among the items.

Make a personal choice. Ask the participants to return to their table and reflect on the checklist items they reviewed. Ask each participant to select one item that he or she should immediately implement.

Conclude the session. Ask for a few volunteers to share what item they chose and why they chose it. Begin this activity for sharing your personal choice.

Variations and Adjustments

Not enough time? Instead of pairing up and reviewing the completed sentences, ask the teams to exchange the forms among the tables.

Play Sample

Here’s how one of the participants completed the sentences at a recent training session:


I always trust trainers because they focus on their learners.

I always trust people from India because they are so spiritual.

I always trust firemen because they save other people.

I always trust my oncologist because she is always on top of the latest research in the field.

I always trust my bank because they post my deposits immediately.


I never trust religious zealots because they have a narrow mind.

I never trust homeopaths because they have no scientific basis for their practices.

I never trust salespeople because they don’t tell the truth.

I never trust unsolicited emails because they are likely to steal your identity.

I never trust people who declare bankruptcy because they are hurting others for personal gain.

Game Plan

The following table displays the structure of Always and Never:

Step If you are the facilitator, do this If you are a participant, do this
Organize teams. Assemble two to eight teams. Introduce yourself to your teammates.
Distribute the forms. Give the two forms. Review the forms.
Fill in the blanks. Ask the participants to complete the forms. Work independently and complete the form.
Form pairs. Give instructions. Find a partner from another team and exchange the forms.
Return to the team. Give instructions. Exchange the forms and share other ideas.
Prepare a checklist. Give instructions. Jointly create a checklist for increasing personal trustworthiness.
Post the checklists on the wall. Distribute rolls of masking tape. Tape your checklist to the wall.
Conduct a gallery walk. Invite the participants to review the different checklists. Pay attention to the similarities and differences among the items.
Make a personal choice. Ask the participants to select an item. Choose a checklist item for immediate implementation.
Conclude the session. Ask for volunteers. Share the item you chose. Listen to other people’s choices.

Using the Game Plan as a Template

You can use the game plan for Always and Never as a template for helping the participants explore a variety of training topics. The key design requirement is to come up with suitable sentences with blanks. Here are some samples:

Topic Incomplete Sentences
Interactive Training I always use training activities that are --- I never use training activities that are ---
Management Essentials Effective managers always --- Effective managers never ---
Negotiation Skills A good negotiator always --- A good negotiator never ---
Personal Productivity Productive people always --- Productive people never ---
Listening Skills A good listener always --- A good listener never ---