Business and Operations
Enhance your professional credibility
By Jean Kelley
By Jean Kelley
Credibility is not something you automatically have, nor is it something you can bestow upon yourself. It’s something others bestow upon you. And, like beauty, credibility is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, in order for others to view you as credible you have to consistently and deliberately act your way into credibility.
Credibility is not something you automatically have, nor is it
something you can bestow upon yourself. It’s something others bestow
upon you. And, like beauty, credibility is in the eye of the beholder.
Therefore, in order for others to view you as credible you have to
consistently and deliberately act your way into credibility.
There are three main components to credibility that you need to be
aware of. They are your values, your behaviours, and your reputation.
You acquire your values over the course of your life and they
ultimately shape your expectations of others and of the world. Just as
you have values that you use to judge others by, so does everyone else.
The problem comes when those who are judging your credibility have
different values than you. For example, some people value arguments and
lively debate. So if someone values argument and you don’t, it may look
to you that the person is mean and likes to argue all the time, when
all they’re really doing is trying to encourage a lively debate.
Because you have different values, that person loses credibility in
your eyes for being a trouble-maker. On the flip side, the other person
may view you as weak or wishy-washy because you don’t engage in lively
debates, when in fact you simply value keeping the peace more so than
Another challenge arises when a value has degrees of alignment. For
example, most people say they value accuracy. But does everything need
to be 100 per cent accurate or is 80 per cent accurate enough? Exactly
how accurate something is can be a reflection on credibility. You need
to know what others value and to what degree they value it as their own
standards will dictate the level of credibility they bestow upon you.
Behaviours are things you choose to do. We all make thousands of
choices every day. We choose whether we hold deadlines in high regard,
whether we greet someone in the hall, and whether we’re direct or
indirect with others. The key thing to remember is that you’re judged by your outward behaviour that you choose to display, not by your wonderful intentions.
There are some key behaviours to focus on as you attempt to boost your
credibility. Don’t over promise. Do what you say you will do. You
choose what you will and will not do every day. Be open about your
motives behind a directive or decision. You choose what you tell
people. Fess up to mistakes (early and always). You choose to cover
things up or put them out in the open.
Keep people’s confidences. Get permission before divulging sensitive
information. You choose whether or not to repeat information. Treat
others consistently and fairly. You choose your actions toward others.
Listen to others. You choose where you put your mental focus.
Your reputation is the total of what your values are and how you choose
to act. Ultimately your behaviours lead to your reputation, and then
all three of these factors (your values, your behaviours, and your
reputation) lead to credibility.
Unfortunately you can get a bad reputation very easily. For example, if
someone else values prompt return phone calls, and you routinely don’t
return phone calls, you’ll quickly get a bad reputation as someone who
doesn’t follow through. In fact, it’s often the small things, like not
returning e-mails promptly, that tarnish someone’s reputation more so
than the bigger issues.
The good news is that you can enhance your reputation by working on it,
which will inevitably boost your credibility. You simply need to think
about the behaviours you choose and the kind of reputation you want to
earn. Find out what people’s expectations are of you and then meet
them. Additionally, observe people who are successful or who you think
have a good reputation.
Finally, realize that being likable doesn’t play a big part in your reputation.
Carefully consider how your values, behaviours and reputation are
affecting how others view and do business with you. Build your
creditability today so you can have the success you desire for years to
Jean Kelley, president and founder of Jean Kelley Leadership Consulting
is the author of “Get A Job; Keep A Job.” As the sole owner of Jean
Kelley Personnel for 25 years, she personally helped more than 20,000
clients enhance their careers. Coupled with her other book, Dear Jean:
What They Don’t Teach You at the Water Cooler, Jean has positioned
herself as America’s workplace coach. For more information, please