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Credibility – do you have it?

Do you radiate credibility?

I needed a steer. Some advice about pensions (even if the idea bores you to tears, stay with me!). So I asked around for a trusted name. Tom was upfront about the price of pension advice and his fees. So we met.

What’s a credible person like to be around?

After 75 minutes I left, feeling educated, reasonably well informed, and with options. One of which was not using him at all, taking an uncomplicated and cheaper DIY route. This left me uncomfortable.

Why was I uncomfortable? I’d wanted to get advice, options and to leave with a certain course of action. My plan hadn’t anticipated one choice being to take the advice, save the money and run.

But, based on the time he’d given me, I did leave with a trust in Tom’s transparency, and a sense of his being a credible and experienced professional. No wonder he’d been recommended.

To be ‘credible’ means to be believed. We perceive those people we believe in to be most valuable, and our trust in them is hard to break. We don’t want to turn to anyone else. They’re the ‘team’ – on our side, in our back pocket and up our sleeve.

We pick them and recommend them. They are the people we talk about, and the people we work with more easily and efficiently, trusting their expertise and getting along smoothly.

How do we build OUR credibility, day to day?

When we’re in a rush, aiming to get the job done, we strive to maintain productivity even as our attention gets divided. Most of us want to get done everything we can, doing as good a job as possible, don’t we?

And that means we try to ward off distractions, to remain efficient and focused. Other people – needing our explanations, knowledge and interpretation – can become an unwelcome interruption, diverting us from tackling our tasks.

But building credibility isn’t a ‘task’, and requires a different mind-set and approach.

So what builds credibility? Here’s what Tom did that made him different.

5 routes to building credibility:

  1. Dedicating time to proper listening – maybe not right at the moment it’s demanded, but as soon as possible.
  2. Tailoring the time and input we give to the needs of the person asking – regardless of our own agenda.
  3. Giving considered advice, rather than simply telling people what they wanted to hear just because it takes less time.
  4. Giving options – and leaving the choice or decision-making in the other person’s court.
  5. Leaving the door open – allowing the conversation to continue if and when desired.

Some additional tactics that add depth to the credibility-building conversation:

  • Having the patience to let someone ramble off track a little whilst explaining the context – because someone new to a topic or problem doesn’t always follow it with the logic of experience.
  • Revealing snippets of information that demonstrate similar personal experience and empathy.
  • Being willing to reveal (some of!) our own imperfections – building empathy by openly admitting a glitch.
  • Not rushing the conversation, even when saying goodbye – so that the person never feels as though they’re a drain on our time, or unimportant.
  • Deliberately making it easy to understand the purpose and use of a tool – without needing to appear clever.

Sometimes we have to invest up front in the things that matter to speed us up later – showing people who we are to demonstrate what we know and what we can do. Tackling conversations at the pace we tackle tasks just won’t cut it.

Being credible – do you cut it? Do people want you on their team?


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