We live in an age where we have access to everything almost immediately. This brings great ease and accessibility to our lives but it also brings great responsibility. You don't know when a picture, a voice mail, an email, tweet, Facebook post etc. is going to betray you. Never before has it been more important to show your best self at all times, even to your friends and family. You can't afford to let your guard down at any time. The ramifications of doing so are far too great.
I recently got involved with social media and have been amazed at how many people diminish their credibility on a regular basis. Young people on Facebook think nothing of expressing themselves with four letter words or pictures of hardy partying. The four letter words may be more happenstance than they were in days past but their use still greatly diminishes credibility. I enjoy a fun night out as much as the next person but I am not going to be uploading a series of drunken photos of myself to Facebook and I am certainly not going to say whatever that comes to mind as though it is okay to openly speak my mind because I am “just being myself” with friends and family.
Most employers today want to take a look at your social media sites before they offer employment. While you may think you are just expressing yourself naturally, the employer is wondering if you are the type of person that they want to hire for the job. Is your vocabulary so limited that the only way to express yourself is with four letter words? Do you spend so much time partying that you may choose partying over working late to get the job done? Perhaps young people do not realize the importance of credibility yet, because they have not been in the work force long enough to see the effects that it has on a person's ability to advance in the ranks.
The word credibility comes from the Latin root “credere” which means to believe. When someone possesses credibility we believe in them and the message they deliver. There are many components to credibility but there are four components that we have control over. They are:
When we think of Expertise, we think of the level of knowledge that a person possesses; their competency in general and their ability to get the job done. This is extremely important in your quest to achieve credibility, but by itself is not enough.
Integrity is such an important element of credibility. A person's integrity tells us how truthful, trustworthy and dependable they are. If we can't trust them or they have let us down before, their credibility is diminished in our eyes.
Openness is paramount in our ability to be perceived as credible. When we are open, we are willing to listen to all points of view and we are able to show our vulnerability. By vulnerability, I do not mean show all your flaws. What I mean is show them the REAL you. Share your heart.
John Kotter, a Harvard professor and an expert on change management and leadership says that in his opinion the most important quality a leader can possess is vulnerability.
And lastly Dynamism is your passion, energy, inner fire and commitment. People need to experience this first hand. It does not mean you have to be larger than life. You can possess bold dynamism, like President Clinton or you can have quiet dynamism like His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Two opposing sides of the spectrum, but both equally effective.
The challenge to credibility is that you do not decide if you are credible. The people you are talking to, posting to, emailing, leaving a voice mail message for, etc. - are the ones who decide if you're credible or not. And to make matters worse, you can lose credibility in an instant and once it is lost, it is very difficult to get back.
So think twice before you decide to swear online, post a less than flattering picture of yourself or someone else, or say something unflattering about another person. When we speak ill of another it says more about us then it says about them. Make sure you take the time to check your email over or listen to your voice mail message to make sure it expresses exactly the message you were hoping to convey. Make sure your messages are free of any grammatical errors, expletives or jargon. Be mindful that you are about to send a message out to the world at large. As yourself will that message enhance or diminish your credibility? The choice is yours. The choice will ultimately create your brand. Now if that is not great responsibility I do not know what is.
Debbie Darling, ©2013 The Presentation Pros