“A credible message needs a credible messenger because charisma without character is catastrophe” (Peter Kuzmic).
MOST OF US UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF CREDIBILITY. In our interactions with other people, not much can be done without credibility. Our words may be true and our work may serve a worthy cause, but if we’ve not gained credibility (or if we’ve damaged our credibility), it’s going to be an uphill climb trying to influence those around us. Whether we like it or not, almost every activity in this world involves persuasion in one form or another, and without credibility, persuaders find it hard to persuade anybody.
If we give “credence” to something, that means we believe it. So “credibility” means believability. People who have credibility are those whom others find it easy to believe. They are trusted by those who have dealings with them, and their words carry weight. Having proven themselves reliable, in both word and deed, they are worthy of confidence. So when the time comes to persuade or influence someone else, people with credibility find that others are willing to listen.
Several things are involved in building credibility, but the most important factor is also the most obvious: if we want to be perceived as being credible, we need to be credible. If we want others to think of us as trustworthy, we need to be trustworthy. No effective shortcut has ever been found to credibility. It can’t be built by quick fixes or maintained permanently by personality techniques. It doesn’t result from the smoke-and-mirrors manipulation of others by tricks of the communication trade. No, if others are to trust us and listen seriously when we speak, we’re going to have to establish a pattern of telling the truth in every situation. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and credibility won’t be acquired in a day either. It takes time.
But if it takes time to build credibility, it can certainly be lost quickly. A lifetime of painstaking effort to become trustworthy can be thrown away in a moment of carelessness, and once lost, credibility is extremely hard to regain. So if we want others to listen when we speak, let us carefully, scrupulously, and consistently . . . tell the truth!
“Every exaggeration of the truth once detected by others destroys our credibility and makes all that we do and say suspect” (Stephen R. Covey).