Saturday, March 30, 2013

Asessing and Improving Credibility

To matter in a conversation, your thoughts must be perceived as helpful. This is a MAJOR hurdle for many people and, until they adjust their priorities so that being perceived as credible is number one, almost no amount of training will help their communication effectiveness.  Your PERCEIVED CREDIBILITY determines if others will:
·         Actively exclude you from discussions
·         Politely dismiss what you say
·         Listen carefully when you speak
·         Seek you out for your input

Your perceived credibility is reflected in the actions of others as I listed above. Whether you are being ignored or shunned, or sought out by others for your input, it is their perception of you that is at the root. So it is NOT up to them to find a way to see you in a different light; it is up to YOU determine if you are credible, improve it as necessary, and demonstrate it so they can see it. This article is about changing that perception by demonstrating your credibility, taking steps to become more credible, and revising behaviors that undermine your credibility.

Whether we are analyzing our own credibility or someone else’s, we need to understand what it is made of and what evidence we will accept. Credibility has three components, and each has some evidence that should be considered when analyzing your own, or someone else’s:
1)      Competence
Þ     Background, like education and training, conveys competence. The usual examples are diplomas and certificates.
Þ     Track record or history of good results. Reputation, testimonials, or examples of high-quality work produced is used as evidence.
Þ     Currency of subject matter knowledge. Demonstrating up-to-date knowledge of the topic demonstrates passion.
2)      Trustworthiness
Þ     Truthfulness is evidence of trustworthiness, especially if truthfulness runs contrary to self-interest.
Þ     Demonstrated reluctance to distort facts (exaggerate or downplay)
Þ     Demonstrated reluctance to overplay emotions for dramatic effect (Drama Queens and Kings)
Þ     Ability to recognize your own bias and temper its impact
3)      Dynamism
Þ     Optimistic
Þ     Eager to succeed (but not manic)
Þ     Engaged with team members

Pretending to be credible when you aren't is a short-term approach to solving a credibility issue. I recommend a long-term solution. If you are not being treated as credible, it is important that you do some self-evaluation (using the above as a checklist). Find the areas where YOU feel you are lacking, and determine what you are willing to do about them. If you are weak in one area, you can compensate for it by getting MUCH stronger in another. I have known many people that were prone to exaggerate, but were still considered credible because they had a long track record of good results.

The best approach is to write a few ideas about where you rank yourself on each of them. If you feel a little pain surrounding one, you might be one to something. Determine which you think are holding you back, regardless of how you feel about fixing it and prioritize those as to which you think you can do something about.

Examples - 
If you feel that you are dismissed by your coworkers because you are considered to be “not serious”, then realize from their point of view you may not be eager to succeed or engaged enough to take seriously. You should concentrate on demonstrating your commitment to tasks and coworkers.

If you feel that you are dismissed by your coworkers because you are considered to be “under skilled”, then realize from their point of view you may not be skilled to take seriously. You should concentrate on relating your track record, or adding to your examples of high-quality work. Just a note – degrees and certificates are almost bare minimum requirements these days .  If these are all you have, you need to produce and be able to share examples of high-quality work product that is meaningful to the topic in order to increase your credibility.

The most obvious (and for some, the most difficult) thing to do is to stop distorting facts with exaggeration or downplaying. Oh – and be nice, but work hard.

Frankly, most people I run into have the skills they need. The problems are in two areas:

  • They are either trying to consult on things for which they don't have the credibility needed. That is, they mean well, but the company has people that know more about the issues under discussion.
  • They are credible, but have weak relationships or bad relationships with key people. We will begin addressing relationship next time.

If you need more help on these, give me a call.

Insist on great business results! Go to Pathfinder Communication

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