Your ideas are accepted as believable only to the degree that you are credible. If you have credibility, people will place their trust in you, but if you lack it, they'll feel unable to rely on you.
Credibility is key to successfully influencing others, both in your personal and business life.
Your ability to influence people requires that you be someone worth being influenced by in the first place.
What is credibility?
Credibility is made up of two parts and very few people can maintain great influence without both of them:
Competence - how people regard your intelligence, expertise and knowledge of the subject Character - how people regard your sincerity, trustworthiness and concern for their well-being
Perception is everything — it’s important to build expertise and knowledge but being perceived as having it matters much more, and you can’t fake it. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Credibility is all about communication. Effective communication is 55% visual, 38% vocal and 7% verbal. So it's not just what you say, it's how you say it and how you look when you say it - your body language, your voice, your eye contact and facial expressions all play a part.
How to build credibility
1. Grow your influence - by consciously building your expertise and applying it whenever possible your influence grows. 2. Build rapport - don't rush to the point too quickly. Find common ground. Build rapport by building your relationship with others. 3. Focus on them - listen. Be interested. Understand other people's issues and concerns. We all need to feel important. We all need to be heard. It builds trust. 4. Be consistent - consistency in actions is key to building trust. We trust people when we know what to expect in their words and what they do. 5. Self-presentation is crucial - don't rely on your words to gain credibility. They way you look is important to, since people start judging you even before you start speaking. 6. Speak loudly, clearly, and confidently - confidence is contagious. If you have confidence, people will catch it easily. 7. Make eye contact - you'll appear more open, trustworthy, and confident. Even if you are reading some notes, look up frequently to maintain your connection. 8. State your credentials - when making a speech, people will trust you more readily if you can prove that other people value your expertise. 9. Accept feedback gracefully - even if you don't agree with the person's assessment, receiving it with an open mind will improve your credibility 10. Never make a promise you can't keep - when you break a promise, you damage trust in a way that's hard to repair. If for some reason you can't keep a promise, let the person know as soon as possible 11. Be authentic - being honest, up-front and authentic builds trust. People can see through showmanship or lack of relevant knowledge and expertise. Don't blag it. 12. Admit when you are wrong - we all make mistakes. Don't cover things up. When people see you are willing to admit to your errors and even draw attention to them, you'll gain a reputation for trustworthiness.
Remember, perception is everything - it's important to build expertise and knowledge but being perceived as having it matters much more. Which means, you can't fake it. It will backfire on you if you are using these as a way to manipulate people or a situation.
The good news is that by applying these approaches to build your credibility you will likely be building your perceived expertise as well.
Credibility is a combination of both expertise and trustworthiness. They can be built simultaneously. And, with focus and determined actions you can build your credibility - one of the golden keys to unlocking greater influence.
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