15 Credibility Busters

If you have trouble forming friendships and influencing others, it may be because people don’t trust you or believe what you say. Do you have personal credibility? 

Ask Yourself These Questions

  • Do people seek out and enjoy my company?
  • Are my relationships—with my romantic partners, friends and family—rich and mutually fulfilling?
  • Are my kids (mostly) respectful and well-behaved?
  • Do I receive regular recognition, in the form of promotions and pay increases, at work?

If you can’t answer these questions with a resounding yes, don’t curse fate or pin the blame on everyone around you. "Personal credibility is truly a ‘magic bullet’ for success and happiness," says Sandy Allgeier, author of The Personal Credibility Factor: How to Get It, Keep It, and Get It Back (If You’ve Lost It).

"It forms other people’s opinions of you, shapes their interactions with you and helps them decide whether to trust and respect you. In other words, it leads to healthy, productive relationships—and if you can create those, everything else in life just falls into place."

In short, personal credibility is judged by your actions. What you do—and don’t do—determines other people’s perceptions of whether you have it.

To make it simpler to understand, Allgeier says we should aim to avoid what she calls "credibility busters." Here are some of the most common:

  1. Failing to do what you say you will do. But when you make a regular habit of this, well, you quickly become labelled as a promise-breaker. If you’re not sure you can follow through on your promises, don’t make them. Period!"
  2. Breaking appointments (or frequently rescheduling them). It’s annoying, at best. And after it happens more than once or twice, you stop trusting them. Don’t be this person.
  3. Constantly showing up late.
  4. Speaking first, thinking second. Rather than a knee-jerk reaction you should say, ‘I have to think about it first.’
  5. Making decisions while keeping others in the dark. Trust and credibility are built when others feel valued.
  6. Telling little white lies that morph into Big Hairy Lies.
  7. Trying to do everything—but ending up doing it all in a half-a**ed way. Over-commitments lead to disasters.  
  8. Putting yourself down rather than learning from mistakes. Surprising as it may seem, self-deprecation is a credibility buster. "It’s important to accept ourselves as the real, fallible, and imperfect human beings that we all are," says Allgeier. "Others just respond better to people who cheerfully admit that they’re not perfect, but are trying to learn and grow from their mistakes."
  9. Putting others down to pull yourself up.
  10. Making too many excuses—even if they’re legit. Maybe the dog actually did eat the homework. Says Allgeier: Don’t focus on the excuse part—rather, focus on what it will take to keep the problem from occurring in the first place!
  11. Being a rigid rule enforcer rather than a flexible problem solver. (Think Dwight on The Office.) People trust problem solvers.
  12. Losing the balance between accomplishing tasks and maintaining constructive relationships.
  13. Casting blame when you should be solving problems.
  14. Coming across as "all knowing" when you’re really just thinking out loud. "If you have a tendency to think out loud, be sure to tell others that’s what you’re doing," advises Allgeier.
  15. Exhibiting body language and vocal tone that doesn’t match your words. You become a little bored or distracted when someone is talking to you… and your eyes wander around the room or maybe you stifle a yawn. Work on genuinely staying in the moment when you talk to someone.

Adapted from: The Personal Credibility Factor: How to Get It, Keep It, and Get It Back (If You’ve Lost It) by Sandy Allgeier, published by Pearson.

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