Seven factors that affect your professional credibility

Establishing some credibility is important to business relationship building and is a critical first step in persuasion as without it the other person is unlikely to listen, pay attention and believe what we are saying.

We tend to believe people whom we respect. Our goal when seeking to persuade someone is to project an impression on the other person that you are credible and worth listening to, as well as someone who is likeable and worthy of respect. It’s like having your own brand image.

Your brand image is representative of what other people perceive you stand for. It is often regarded as the first ‘hurdle’ in our attempt to be heard and believed. We want our prospects to accept and believe we are personally credible as this will determine how successful we are.


So, what helps give me credibility?

Several things lend themselves to establishing credibility in another’s eyes; not each one, of course, will have the same effect and gravitas with everyone. One factor may mean a considerable amount to one person, whereas it may say absolutely nothing to someone else.

  1. Your qualifications – academic, vocational
  2. Track-record – how you are perceived through your past achievements
  3. Skills – specialist or any other skills you perform effectively
  4. Knowledge – understanding that when applied demonstrates wisdom
  5. Reputation – a widespread opinion about you
  6. Position – whether you hold a senior job as well as fitting into a niche
  7. People you associate with – Your network of people. Who you associate with speaks volumes about you


What contributes to keeping my credibility intact?

Credibility is a fragile and delicate creature and keeping it intact is based on how you act in each situation. Your credibility needs looking after it can break very easily.

As an example, think about poor Gerald Ratner and the rather unfortunate turn of events during a speech he gave to the Institute of Directors on April 23, 1991. During the speech, he commented:

“We also offer cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, "How can you sell this for such a low price?", I say, "because it's total crap.””

After the speech, the value of the Ratner group plummeted by around £500 million, which, not surprisingly, almost resulted in the firm's collapse.

So, the truth is that people judge us by our actions, not our intentions. However, we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions rather than our actions. To understand how to keep credibility, one must also consider the individual who you wish to persuade. Why? Because each person uniquely defines credibility. Furthermore, you must be careful, because the way one person perceives your credibility, may also define how others associated with that person may see you.

Consider the following scenarios as an example of the way different people may have entirely opposing expectations of you.

  • Telephone conference call – what someone may have required you to do before the call, during the call and after the call, may differ from one person to the next. Consider what types of behaviour they like or appreciate. What might really irritate or annoy them in such a setting?
  • Face to face meeting – I remember having a senior colleague at the Daily Mail who always required me to prepare well in advance for meetings. For me to be considered credible in his eyes, I needed to be on time, be well equipped, get down to business rapidly and be prepared to ‘have an opinion’ about the subject at hand.
  • Questioning – The quality of your questioning can have a direct bearing on the amount of credibility you are perceived to possess. If you can inject a well-considered form of questioning that challenges everyone’s thought process, then you are likely to be found more credible by your actions.
  • Being in front of others – You may have all the right qualifications, knowledge and even the highest position, but unless that is backed up with applied experience this won’t count for much. How you choose to use your knowledge in a situation can be interpreted as wisdom. One can never forget the adage; ‘it is better to close your mouth and be thought a fool – than to open it and remove all doubt’.
  • Giving/receiving feedback – Feedback is meant to be regarded as a gift, so it is important to remember that most gifts are carefully wrapped, and consideration is given to when and how this reward is presented. It’s the same with feedback. Unless you think carefully about how you present feedback then your credibility can be irretrievably damaged.

Any of the above factors may be enough to get you to a point where you can establish initial credibility – although you will need to continue working to keep your credibility intact.

If you want to improve your skills at building business relationship and your credibility, then a great next step is to get hold of this International Best Seller.



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