What are the Key Elements of Credibility?

27 April 2015
Comments: 0
27 April 2015, Comments: 0

Credibility is being seen as believable

As business trainers it goes without saying that we need to have a high degree of credibility with our management colleagues, or with our clients if we work in consultancy.

In our book The C3 Model of Influencing Field Guide, we have described credibility as the extent to which you are seen as being believable by the person or people you are seeking to influence.

Believability is communicated in a number of ways and, depending on your role and the context for your influencing, there will be specific things that you can do to demonstrate and build your credibility.

Whereas confidence is something you can feel inside and you can see it outwardly demonstrated, credibility is different in that here it is the perception of you by other people that is important.

So you need to create an outward perception of being credible if you want to influence effectively and this needs good levels of self-awareness to ensure that you have a realistic view of the how credible you are considered by those you want to influence.

Credibility is made up of the elements of trustworthiness and expertise, and in building credibility we need to consider what we can do to visibly demonstrate both of these elements.

Trust is something that often needs to be earned – unless you are a doctor or a lawyer where you might expect a certain level of trust to be given based on your knowledge and expertise.  So you will need to earn trust through your actions and your very way of being.

David Maister was a professor at Harvard Business School and has researched and written extensively on the role of trust, particularly within the Professional Services environment.

He created an equation that is relevant to what we must focus on if we are to build trust.

Trust =  Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy
Whilst credibility is seen in this equation as a distinct aspect of trust, what is important is that we also need to be seen as being reliable and not operating purely out of self-interest if we want to build trust with someone.

The concept of intimacy in David’s equation relates to the extent to which we have deep knowledge of the ‘client’s’ business or needs. For your purposes this can be the depth of knowledge you have about what the other person values and the extent to which you can demonstrate this understanding to build a deeper connection.

Take a moment to think about how self-aware you are with regard to your credibility.  Are there any areas where you think you might be able to improve your reliability, your expertise in a certain area, or get a better understanding of a colleague or client’s values in order to build a closer connection?


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