Become a Credible Communicator
Become a Credible Communicator: Make Honesty Your Policy!
by Craig Harrison
When you speak, do people listen? You don't have to be E.F. Hutton to command
attention and respect in the workplace. But you do have to be credible.
Credibility in the workplace means believability. Simply put, do people believe
what you say? Is your reputation based on a track record of telling the truth?
Are your estimates accurate, your forecasts realistic and your word solid? Or
are you a big talker, a storyteller or a spin doctor? Strive to be a credible
The Right Way to Speak and Write
From the moment you submit a résumé and then interview for a job, the
credibility counter is activated. Are your CV's assertions accurate, your
chronology factual and your affiliations, degrees and awards correct? Whether
spoken or written, our communication must withstand the test for truthfulness.
Whether or not you are "found out" during the interview process, you can lose
your job and damage your career immeasurably when you lie, misstate or
misrepresent your accomplishments. Pulitzer prize winning authors have been
undone, as have supposed war heroes and many a politician, by aggrandizing or
completely falsifying one's past accomplishments. You're also susceptible to
blackmail when you lie and are then threatened with exposure. As we've just
seen, there is no "luck of the Irish" involved when you lie about your
credentials, even as the head football coach for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
For entrepreneurs this is especially true. You ARE your business. You must be
beyond reproach. Even a hint of impropriety can be fatal. Your goal is to ooze
integrity through your words and deeds.
Your Word Is Your Bond
People listen to what you say and how you say it. In every job situation you
have the opportunity to become known as a person of his or her word. Conversely,
you can become known for shading the truth, for telling people what they want to
hear, or parsing words as a defendant might do under cross examination in a
court of law.
We've all heard of the boy who cried wolf so many times that when a wolf finally
appeared, people had long since stopped listening. This boy's credibility had
long since turned non-existent. The same is true in the workplace. Whether you
cry racism, sexism, ageism or favoritism it's important that there be credence
to your claims. You do everyone a disservice if you falsely accuse or ascribe
such motives to actions that otherwise occur
Words Are Sticks and Stones
Beyond misrepresenting your own accomplishments or capabilities, be cautious of
assertions made about others. Character assassination can be fatal to careers,
and not just the person you're blaspheming. Whether or not you're a manager your
words carry a weight to them that affects others. Gossiping about others or
spreading falsehoods or even half-truths can flag you as dangerous,
untrustworthy and ultimately unpromotable.
One of the keys to success in the workplace is engendering trust from your
co-workers. If you are gossiping or betraying confidences you destroy your own
credibility — as an honorable co-worker, a safe confidante, and am ally.
Take the High Road
Workplaces provide ample opportunities for you to earn credibility. Every time
you make a deadline, do what you say you'll do or are there in a time of need
for others, the department of the company at large, your credibility rises.
Times when you defend the honor of co-workers who aren't present, refuse to
engage in gossip, or caution others to give co-workers the benefit of the doubt,
you are showing wisdom and professionalism, which raises your credibility in the
Similarly, when you "say the right thing" or "do the right thing" in ethical
situations your credibility is enhanced.
Tell It Like It Is
Often employees fall down when it comes to admitting mistakes. The credible
communicator can admit errors or mistakes in a forthright and direct manner.
Everyone makes mistakes, yet the credible communicator can address them and go
about rectifying them, restoring confidence in him or herself. Those lacking in
credibility might try to cover up, ignore or minimize their folly, often
compounding the error of their ways. Ultimately, it's less important that you
made a mistake, than that you fixed it and can assure others it won't happen
Know When to Say No
The credible communicator doesn't just tell people what they want to hear. Life
would be easy of we could say "yes" to every request we received. Yet
realistically, agreeing to something you ultimately can't deliver on is
detrimental to your reputation. Develop the fortitude to say "no" when it's the
right answer, even through it may not be the popular one. Over the long term,
you will be respected for the accuracy of your assessments, decisions and
determinations, even if the news isn't music to the ears of all who listen.
Sometimes the truth isn't popular or pretty, but a person who is a "straight
shooter" is respected by all.
Earning Your Stripes
Strive to boost your credibility rating at work and in your professional
relationships. You'll know you're succeeding when you hear others tell you they
know they can count on you, have confidence in your projections and feel secure
in their knowledge you're on the team. Don't be in-credible…strive to be
In his youth professional speaker and corporate trainer Craig Harrison won a
Tall Tales Contest. Now he teaches classes on credibility for UC Santa Cruz
Extension and other institutions and helps professions communicate and serve for
success. Hire him at 510-547-0664, send e-mail to
visit his website:
http://www.Expressionsofexcellence.com for more value from Craig.