Easy to lose and tough to build, credibility ranks as one of the primary characteristics of a successful and professional persuader. A basic determination of credibility can be found in the following descriptors: You do what you say you’re going to do; your information is accurate and unbiased; you’re not prone to exaggeration or hyperbole; you admit when you’re wrong and accept blame; you share the credit when successful; your word is your bond. The key question is this: What do people say about you when you’re not in the room?
Credibility cannot be achieved if you don’t possess the following three attributes: expertise, track record and respect.
Expertise: Expertise means that you actually comport yourself as an expert. Experts’ opinions are believed and sought; they are not generally subject to quibbles or arguments. You gain expertise through experiences, education, observations and boldly moving on from both your victories and your defeats.
Track record: Nothing succeeds in promoting credibility like results that others can see, touch, feel, hear and smell. In other words, don’t just talk the talk; walk the walk. Track records don’t require uniform and unblemished successes. In fact, showing variation is preferable. The idea is to constantly improve.
Respect: No one respects people who can win only if someone else loses, or who see life as a zero-sum game. You don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to remain civil. When you share, you gain respect; you also gain respect when you accept responsibility, when you volunteer, and when you effectively negotiate and honestly resolve conflict.
Gaining credibility is easier than you might think. If you currently do any of the following, you’re well on your way to creating credibility confidence.
Publicize your successes. Demonstrate your triumphs, relate your victories, recount your progresses — but don’t boast about them.
Create a “rational future.” In other words, help people see a future that begins pragmatically in the present and develops logically and persuasively forward along a reasonable path.
Become clearly accessible and accountable or, to use contemporary jargon, “transparent.” People are less likely to argue with an individual who is clearly available and responsible.
Hang out with other credibility all-stars. Find people with impressive credibility credentials withinyour organization or community and align yourselfwith them.