If you look at many of the persuasive people in your life, from impressive relatives or friends to a past remarkable manager, to powerful leaders in history such as John F. Kennedy or the Dalai Lama, you’ll note that they all have one thing in common, credibility.
These people earned your respect, and you believed them when they told you something.
Credibility is one of the most important attributes of a persuasive person because it can lead to bigger and better opportunities.
If you want to be persuasive, then credibility is something to master.
What is credibility?
You have credibility when your stakeholder believes in you and respects you.
People who are trustworthy, reliable, experienced and have good character, high integrity and a solid reputation based on objective measures are deemed credible.
I’ve been teaching people how to build credibility in the workplace for more than two decades, and I’ve got two pieces of good news for you here:
- Anyone can become credible. It’s just a matter of concentrating your attention on developing various micro-skills within each of the subcategories of credibility. I’m going to give you some great suggestions in this article to get you started.
- Interestingly, you don’t need to actually ‘be credible’ to be persuasive. All you need to be is ‘perceived as credible’. In the short-term, that’s great news if you don’t yet feel you are as credible as you would like to be – which accounts for most of us mere mortals. In other words, you can fake it while you’re on the journey to making it.
How do you become credible?
People usually build their credibility over time. Here are my top 10 tips to help you fast track your perceived and real credibility at work.
Build your competence
The ability to do something efficiently and successfully, that is, with competence, is one of the most important components of credibility.
When someone is competent, you have a strong sense that they know what they are doing, they have the runs on the board, and they know the best way forward.
The best way to build competence is to develop your proven skills and knowledge.
Communicate your competence
Know how to talk about your competence without boasting. People who are thought of as credible are good at explaining their expertise in a way that inspires.
It’s essential to work out how to talk about yourself in a way that’s not arrogant. And you also don’t want to appear as though you’re cringing at talking about yourself and that discussing your achievements makes you uncomfortable.
Your stakeholders must be aware of your competence, which means it’s also an excellent idea to do the following little things:
Let people know about the study you have done and the qualifications you have gained as a result. Include your academic qualifications on your email signature and social media profiles with your job title and contact details.
Achievements and awards
If you have won awards or achieved professional designations, it’s important that people know this about you. Place academic achievements and awards where people can see them, on your desk, behind you on Zoom, and in your social media profiles.
Use client testimonials where possible. This means you might need to ‘name drop’. For example, “When I was working for Google….” or “Bill Gates always said to me….”
I had the fortunate opportunity to administer the Persuasion Smart Profile (my world-first psychometric tool that assesses your persuasive strengths and weaknesses at work) for a team of medical professionals in the pharmaceutical industry.
A qualified and very experienced psychiatrist managed this team. When I’m talking about the value of the Persuasion Smart Profile with potential new clients, I am quick to mention that my client, the psychiatrist, said, and I quote, “I loved it!” This adds incredible weight to my overall competence and that of my assessment tool.
Back up with examples
Use examples from your past experiences when explaining what people should do, why they should do it or how you think they should proceed.
And practise responding to key questions where the response you give further cements your competence in the mind of your stakeholders.
Use credible words
When speaking about yourself, always imply (and sometimes blatantly use) the words such as qualified, skilled, proficient, authority, experienced, expert, approved, trained, skilful, practised, professional and certified. These words highlight your competence.
Raise your profile
It’s important to get yourself noticed for all the right reasons. So I suggest that you put your head above the parapet, so to speak and contribute, volunteer and generally be involved in an impressive way. Volunteer for committees, speak at conferences, even attend the opening of an envelope!
Find your niche and stick with it
Credible people specialise in a niche. They work on becoming an authority in that niche. Throughout your professional life, make it your plan to strive to be the expert in your area of choice, your niche within the niche.
When credible people speak, they demonstrate fluidity, elegance, and smoothness in their speech. And interestingly, they often speak just faster than average, as though they are just that little bit more intelligent and are therefore more able to form their thoughts more quickly than the average person.
Credible people give you the impressive sense that they can think on their feet no matter the issue being discussed. Here’s how you build your capability in spoken elegance:
- Remove filler words
- Speak plain English
- Don’t repeat yourself
- Rehearse so you don’t need notes
- Write out your answers in advance
We associate authority and credibility with people who have a deep, rich vocal tone. Your vocal tone has nothing to do with either how flat or how interesting your voice is.
It’s not about the highs and lows in the sound you make when you speak (that is called your vocal range). Instead, your tone refers to the resonance of your voice or how smoothly your sound reverberates through the resonating chambers of your face when you speak.
Stories help to make us memorable. When choosing stories, pick the ones about you and how you were involved in some successes in your past.
Calm your farm
Yes! Credible people are calm under pressure. They don’t lose their temper, raise their voice, or frighten people. Credible people demonstrate calmness in the face of antagonism. There are many things you can do to maintain composure under pressure:
- Plan your responses in advance
- Practice diaphragmatic breath
Credible people back themselves. They are passionate and committed to their causes. They are confident at articulating their perspective, and they don’t back down easily unless the evidence is compelling.
Commit to growth
Strive constantly to add to your back story, personal history, and experience. Take classes, read books, and listen to podcasts.
Become a whole person who is always learning new things and adding strings to your bow. The more interests you have, the better placed you’ll be to add value to other people’s conversations and meetings.
Without credibility it will be very difficult for you to be persuasive.
In most persuasive situations credibility is something your stakeholder is expecting from you.
The aim is to plan to tackle one or more of these things each week, and over the coming months, you’ll see people’s reactions improve based on their perception of your increasing credibility.
There’s an exciting opportunity for you to use credibility to improve your overall persuasiveness in life.