Credibility is critical to everyone’s success.
In today’s self-absorbed and self-centered societies, somehow we have missed one of the most important characteristics required for true success: a person’s credibility level.
But to do something about it, we need to understand this concept and the impact it is having on us and others.
What is Credibility?
It is your reputation for being fair, open, compassionate, inspirational, positive, honest, and trustworthy.
Every single person reading this article-you included-has various levels of credibility with the individuals with whom he or she interacts.
You have a credibility level with the people with whom you work and at the places where you are a purchaser or seller. You also have a credibility level with family, friends, and all others. This cannot be avoided unless you never interact with others-which might be limited to Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away. Whether you want to or not, you have established a level of credibility with just about every person with whom you have interacted.
You might respond: “I don’t care about credibility with others.” Okay, I will address that.
What does Credibility do?
It determines the level of respect you will receive from others.
Note that it’s not about individuals liking you but respecting you. Keep this mind as you review your credibility levels with you relationships.
What does Credibility measure?
It measures how trustworthy, honest, and reliable others think you will be.
Note this is based on the perceptions of other people, not yours.
Where does Credibility exist?
It exists in other people’s minds, not in yours.
I personally dislike this truth but credibility is lent to you from others. You cannot demand credibility from others or force them to think highly of you. Your credibility is in the mind of others; you must earn it by conducting yourself in a way that meets their needs, not yours.
Why should you care about Credibility? What are the benefits?
Your credibility influences how much others will communicate to you, cooperate with you, learn from you, and be influenced by you and/or buy from you.
Unless you are part of a dictatorship, credibility means everything to your ongoing success. Building your credibility means to intentionally increase your success and impact. Discounting this fact or being in denial of it does not lessen the impact that your level of credibility is having in your life. You are simply operating without awareness or acceptance of a critical part of any success model.
Think about it. It takes weeks, months, and years to build credibility, yet you can lose it in a heartbeat. When I mention Enron, what thoughts about credibility does that bring up? What thoughts do you have about Disneyland? Credibility levels and opinions are unavoidable.
So what to do about it?
What makes Credibility increase and decrease?
It is behavior (your behavior) perceived (from the others with whom you are interacting) as being appropriate for Time, Tasks, People, Situations, and Values that makes credibility increase. It is behavior perceived as being inappropriate for the same factors that makes it decrease.
Each moment of interaction with others causes your credibility to go up or down. And note that I mean behavior seen as appropriate by the other party, not you.
Credibility applies equally to the sin of omission. You are being judged equally by what you don’t do, as well as what you do.
Early in our marriage, my wife was coming home from teaching at the local college. It was late at night and I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the local paper. From my seat, I could see my wife arrive home. As she got out of the car with an armful of books, I waved and kept reading my paper, not thinking any more about it. When she came in the front door, she was not happy with me (low credibility) because I did not do something, which of course was get up and open the door for her. You see, credibility-yours and mine-can change because of what we don’t do.
Strategies to increasing Credibility
To intentionally increase or maintain credibility with others, we must be aware of what others need and want. Too often we determine our behavior from our own point of view, which is completely ineffective in building credibility unless others’ wants and needs are identical to ours. Which is highly unlikely.
One of the main factors that influence credibility levels is your Personal Style or natural predisposition (you are born with this) to Time, People, Tasks, and Situations. Being aware of your Personal Style helps you to understand not only your tendencies but, more important, the needs of others. This will help you become intentional with your behavior.
Final thoughts . . .
The other reality is it is important to acknowledge it’s impossible to have high levels of credibility with everyone. No matter what you do, some individuals will not feel you are credible. The key is to build credibility the best you can and be aware that for those with whom you have low credibility, you have done all you can to raise it.
Building Credibility with others is critical to your success. Take a few moments to read the action list and start to increase your Credibility levels today.
- Be aware that in every single moment you are interacting with others, you are either increasing or decreasing your credibility in their minds.
- Accept the fact that to build credibility, you must understand self and others’ motivational needs and wants. To accelerate this process, complete an assessment to determine your strengths and weakness when dealing with others.
- Build credibility with others by focusing on their needs and wants-not yours. To quickly get clear about their primary needs, have them complete the same assessment so they can communicate to you their preferences, wants, and approaches.
- Identify the reason why credibility is important to your success. This is required to motivate you to change behaviors to get your desired results.
- Always remember that credibility exists in the other people’s minds, not yours. Your credibility level is equally influenced by both what you do and what you are not doing.
- Carefully review and determine the credibility levels you have with all your important relationships. If it is not at the level you would prefer, discover what you can do to increase your credibility in their eyes.
- Develop the ability and skill to intentionally choose and implement the approaches and behavior that will increase your credibility in most situations with most people.
- Remember that a lifetime of credibility can be lost in a heartbeat by one mistake or error.
- Take responsibility for your credibility levels with others. If it is generally not high enough, look no further than the mirror.
- Finally, credibility is never finished; it is an active and ongoing process.
By Austin Becker