27 September 2023

Seven tips for improving your credibility at work

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Michelle Bowden* says that without credibility, it can be very difficult for anyone to be persuasive.

If you look at many of the persuasive people in your own 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.

People usually build their credibility over time.

Here are my top seven tips to help you fast track your perceived and actual credibility at work:

1. 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 your proven knowledge.

In other words, it needs to be obvious to onlookers that you have demonstrated competence.

2. Raise your profile

If you want to improve your credibility, it’s important to get yourself noticed for all the right reasons.

I suggest that you put your head above the parapet so to speak and contribute, volunteer and generally be involved in an impressive way.

You want people to notice that you are interested and interesting.

There are whole lot of things you can do to raise your profile in business such as joining committees, attend events, network more, contribute to podcasts and blogs, even speak at conferences.

3. Spoken elegance

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 that the average person!

Credible people give you that impressive sense that they can think on their feet no matter the issue being discussed.

To build your capability in spoken elegance: remove filler words, speak plain English, don’t repeat yourself, rehearse so you don’t need notes, plan your answers in advance and articulate so each word you say is clear.

4. Stories sell

Stories help to make us memorable.

When choosing stories, pick the ones that are about you and how you were involved in some successes in your past.

There are plenty of other great storytelling models around.

Credible people know all the models for telling a story and they use the right one at the right time to get the best results.

My favourite model for storytelling is called the Magic Formula Story.

It follows a simple 3-part formula called IPB (Incident, Point, Benefit).

It’s simply where you first tell the story (and keep it short and interesting) then you explain the point of the story (i.e., what did you learn? What was the positive result? What is a summary of the outcomes?), followed by the reason you told the story in the first place or the link to the subject of your conversation.

5. 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 such as meditation, planning your responses in advance, and practicing diaphragmatic breath.

6. Back yourself

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.

Credible people take advantage of opportunities to collaborate with others and contribute to their favourite causes as a way of building their expertise and skills and so they feel good about themselves.

One way to make sure you back yourself is to use a journal to express what you think about a variety of issues and challenges.

Use your writing to clarify your thinking and refine your perspectives.

This in turn means you’ll be better able to express what you mean when the time is right.

7. Commit to growth

Strive constantly to add to your back story, personal history, and experience so you’re a well-rounded person.

Take classes, read books, listen to pod casts.

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.

Understand that brains and intellect are not the only things that matter when it comes to a growth mindset.

Your dedication and hard work to learning new things and being fundamentally interesting in a variety of environments will make you credible in the long run.

People with a growth mindset put more energy into learning than they do worrying about failure.

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.

Edited extract from How to Persuade: The skills you need to get what you want by *Michelle Bowden. Michelle is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business and has delivered her Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass more than 950 times for over 12,000 people.

More information is available at michellebowden.com.au.

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