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, it 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. They
are your values, your behaviors and your reputation. Use the following
information to manage each of these areas and increase your credibility.
You acquire your values over the course of your life,
and they ultimately shape your expectations of others and the world. And
just as you have values that you use to judge others by, so does
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. But because you have different values, that person loses
credibility in your eyes for being a troublemaker. And 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 than arguments.
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 percent accurate, or is 80 percent accurate
enough? Exactly how accurate something is can be a reflection on
credibility. Therefore, you need to know what others value and to what
degree they value it because their own standards will dictate the level
of credibility they bestow upon you.
Behaviors are things you choose to do. We all make
thousands of choices every day. The key thing to remember is that you’re
judged by your outward behavior that you choose to display, not by your
Some key behaviors to focus on as you attempt to boost
your credibility include:
over promise. Do what you say you will do. You choose what you will
and will not do every day.
open about your motives behind a directive or decision. You choose
what you tell people.
up to mistakes early and always. You choose to cover things up or
put them out in the open.
people’s confidences. Get permission before divulging sensitive
information. You choose whether or not to repeat information.
others consistently and fairly. You choose your actions toward
Listen to others. You choose where you put your mental focus.
Your reputation is the total of your values and your
behaviors. Ultimately, your values, your behaviors and your reputation
lead to credibility.
Your reputation is something you have, whether you know
it or not. And 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 behaviors you choose and the kind of
reputation you want to earn.
Therefore, 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. What behaviors do they choose,
and why have people bestowed credibility on them?
Finally, realize that being likable doesn’t play a big
part in your reputation. You can be quiet, shy and introverted yet still
have a stellar reputation. Conversely, you can have a great personality,
be the life of the party and be totally charming but have a
In today’s economy and job market, you need to take the
proper steps to enhance your credibility. In fact, if you’re not taking
values, behaviors and reputation into consideration, you could quickly
find yourself out of a job, with few prospects for new work, because
your credibility will be tarnished.
Build your creditability today so you can have the
success you desire for years to come.
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 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, Ms. Kelley has positioned herself as
America’s workplace coach. For more information, visit