Written by Professional Academy Guest Blogger Maurice De Castro Founder of Mindful Presenter
Whatever stage you are at in your career, your credibility is important. Credibility is your reputation, and it helps people to decide if what you say has truth behind it. Credibility takes time to build, and it’s difficult to physically define and control. It’s formed from your communications with your colleagues, managers, and other stakeholders - and the way you conduct yourself in the workplace.
Credibility is one of the building blocks of success for many people. Your credibility comes into play when you pitch an idea to a colleague or higher up, and they consider it and decide to let you conduct that project. Credibility is not just about having more or better qualifications than others - it’s having passion, honesty, and integrity in what you do.
Whether you’re a part-time team member working a 16-hour week or the CEO of a multinational, how credible you are in the eyes of your team can make the difference when it comes to getting things done. For a part time worker, credibility could be the difference between earning overtime or being trusted to do a specific job. For the CEO, credibility could be the difference between putting decisions into action, or being unable to do so, with a huge financial gain or loss dependent on the outcome.
Credibility and communication are closely linked. The way you become more credible is through your communication. How you choose to interact with everyone around you contributes to your credibility as a person and a professional. So, it’s no small matter to say that you need to be aware of your body language, and the way you talk to and treat people.
Good communication and bad communication can have wonderful and devastating effects on your credibility in the workplace. But what is credibility made up of? It can contain many elements such as:
Credibility isn’t easy to measure, and it’s even harder to define. It is also difficult to earn, and very easy to lose. All you can do is take care of the factors under your control, such as the five points noted above. If you commit to excellence and continuous self-improvement in these areas, you’ll be a long way down the path of establishing yourself as a credible individual, whatever your standing in your company.
Poor communication can quickly send your reputation and credibility down the drain, even if it’s only one time.
Look at your credibility in the same way you would your driving license. You work really hard learning to drive and passing the test. Some people spend years learning to drive. One serious driving offence and you’ll lose your license. Credibility can work the same way.
Like it or not, you are building your credibility from the moment you walk into the workplace.
Risking your credibility doesn’t just affect your relationship with your manager, but it has a far wider effect. It could affect your relationships with:
Poor communication can all too easily become a bad habit. Suddenly, you’re stuck in a rut that you can’t escape. If your communication is poor but a request is still carried out, for example, you will have the feeling inside something isn’t quite right, but there’s a risk you’ll keep repeating the same mistake. One of the quirks of poor communication is that often the person communicating knows it isn’t very good, but they have no idea how to break the cycle, so the process continues, communication gets worse, and their credibility tanks.
What is good communication? In a broad sense, it’s adhering to typical social norms and expectations, such as not being rude to someone or giving someone your full attention when they’re speaking to you. In the workplace, the quality of your communication is everything. Projects, staff, and business operations all need communication to get their jobs done. A company needs to communicate its vision to its employees and stakeholders in the right way.
For exceptional communication, you need to develop a few key skills. You may be a natural at some of these, but nailing all of them puts you ahead of the game when it comes to building your credibility.
Be a Good Listener
We may think we’re all good listeners, but in reality it’s a skill that many of us could work on. Have you ever been talking to a friend and felt your eyes glaze over, then you had to ask them to repeat what they were saying?
Being a good listener is a vital skill for the workplace and boardroom. When you’re interacting with anyone at a senior level or a fellow colleague, you need to make sure you’ve really taken everything onboard. It will boost your personal credibility no end if someone knows they can give you a message and you’ve heard and understood it.
If you work with someone who has a reputation for talking for too long, don’t be afraid to take notes as they’re speaking. There’s nothing worse than listening to someone talk for 10 minutes only for them to question you on the first thing they said. Ultimately, you’ll be the one to look bad in this scenario, even if we know the person who bored you for 10 minutes needs to work on their communication skills too!
‘It’s not what you say - it's how you say it.’
It’s not what the message says, but how it’s delivered. If you received a great birthday present but it was wrapped up in an old newspaper, would you feel the same as if you received it tied with expensive ribbon? You can say something positive, but then a poor tone of voice or delivery can make it feel negative quickly. The opposite is true of negative news - it can be delivered in a constructive manner that avoids offence and upset emotions, or even turned into a positive.
Which of these messages, both saying the same thing, sounds best?
“We have no stock of this toy left, we will have to try and sell unhappy customers something else.”
“This toy has been so successful that we’re completely sold out, while some customers will naturally be disappointed, let’s show them the rest of our exciting range instead.”
I know which message would inspire me more!
Avoid Being the One Who Complains at the First Road Block
Think about someone you know who is always the first to complain when something goes wrong. They probably aren’t the most positive person on the team and are possibly cynical and sarcastic to boot. Their attitude quickly brings your team’s enthusiasm down.
Try not to be the first one to complain, as this will quickly mark you as someone who doesn’t look for a solution. Focus on looking at ways to fix the problem, rather than complaining about it. If you feel the need to let some steam off, do it in private and talk to someone who isn’t directly involved in the project or on your team.
If you find yourself raising objections in front of other team members, present them by saying you feel “there must be a better way and I’m sure together we can find one” rather than falling back on “well this is rubbish.”
Bad communication is a very slippery slope. It may go unnoticed the first time, but you can quickly tell if people aren’t engaged or onboard with what you’re saying. Poor communication may get the job done once, twice, or even allow your department or business to sleepwalk through many months, but at some point, it is going to cost you in a big way.
The best way to build your credibility through your communication at all levels in your career is to be honest and open (Being some who always has a plan helps, too!). Value each person for their input, knowledge, and expertise in the workplace. You’ll soon find that an excellent reputation follows you and see the great credibility you’ve built through your effective communication skills.
Professional Academy offer a range of Management & Leadership Training as both bespoke in-company training with the option of accredited CMI qualification pathways and management & leadership qualifications for individuals looking to progress in their management career. Why not contact us today to see if we can help you with your personal development as a manager and a leader.