Three Qualities to Enhance Your Credibility Today
You want your co-workers, colleagues and managers to view you as credible. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO or a brand new hire, you want people to trust you and believe in you. But how do you build credibility?
According to Kouzes and Posner’s book CREDIBILITY: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, “credibility is the foundation of leadership.” According to their research, in order to be seen as credible, you must be honest, competent and inspiring. The crux of their message is, “If you don’t believe the messenger, you won’t believe the message.”
How do you achieve those qualities and become believable in every day communication? What behaviors can you change or refine to encourage others to view you as credible?
In order to create a higher level of impact for yourself, consider implementing these three key strategies for every communication.
1. Maintain proper eye contact.
The first thing you can do to increase your credibility is make a great first impression. What happens in those first 30 seconds is vital and eye contact plays an important role in your success. Sure, we all look at people, but do we maintain eye contact until we get acknowledgement?
Many of us were taught to scan the audience and quickly move our eyes from one person to the next. News flash: Scanning doesn’t work! If you tend to lose your train of thought, use a lot of non-words (umm and ahhh) or speak too quickly, your eye contact is too fast. Good eye contact occurs when you look at one person for a sustained thought. A sustained thought is the length of time it takes you to deliver a complete sentence or when punctuation would produce a natural break in thought. This typically takes 3-5 seconds. Whether you’re speaking to a large group or one-on-one, slow down your eye contact and take time with individuals. Look for nonverbal confirmation or confusion from them. This will validate that you are connecting.
2. Communicate to the listener’s needs and goals.
Too many people give information without explaining why the information is good for their audience. With the information overload people are experiencing today, it is important to tell others why they should pay attention to what you have to offer. If you’re speaking face-to-face with people, tell them in the opening sentence of your conversation why they need to listen to you. If you’re communicating via e-mail, make your subject line creative and clear. Always lead with what’s important to your audience.
3. Shorten your e-mails, conversations and meetings.
According to various studies, the average professional receives more than 75 e-mails per day. That doesn’t include all the text messages and voice mails they’re getting or all the meetings they’re attending. Information is coming in from all sides. This means that in order for your information to sink in, you need to be concise and decisive. If you communicate in this way, people will be more likely to remember you and your message. In e-mails, use bullet points or numbered lists to make important information stand out. In meetings, use an agenda that you can pass out to everyone and refer to it while communicating.