Customer Service
Be A Credible Communicator

by Craig Harrison

   Credibility in the workplace means believability. Simply put, do customers believe what you say? Is your track record one 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? Become a credible communicator.

The Right Way to Write and Speak

   From the moment you initiate contact with a prospect, the credibility counter is activated. Are your statements accurate, assertions factual and your references, degrees and awards correct? Whether spoken or written, your communication must withstand the truthfulness test.
   From football coaches to Pulitzer winning authors to high level accounting executives we've seen many a professional undone by a lack of credibility. Don't end up the butt of Jay Leno's jokes!

Your Word is Your Bond

   People listen to what you say and how you say it. In every communication you can become known as a person of his or her word. Conversely, you can become known for shading the truth, telling people what they want to hear, or parsing words as a defendant might do under courthouse cross examination.
   Little boys who've lost credibility get eaten by wolves. Big boys and girls get fired when they lack credibility.

Words Are Sticks and Stones

   Beyond misrepresenting your own accomplishments or capabilities, be cautious of making assertions about others. Character assassination is fatal to careers, and not just the person you're slandering. Your words carry a weight to them that affects others. Gossiping, spreading falsehoods or even half-truths about your competitors can flag you as dangerous, untrustworthy and unprofessional.
   Marketplace success requires trust from your colleagues. Gossiping or betraying confidences destroys your own credibility as an honorable colleague, a safe confidante, and an ally.

Take the High Road

   The workplace affords you ample opportunities 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 your credibility rises.
   When you defend the honor of absent co-workers, refuse to engage in gossip, or caution others to give colleagues the benefit of the doubt, you are showing class, wisdom and professionalism, raising your credibility quotient.
   Similarly, when you "say the right thing" or "do the right thing" in ethical situations your credibility is enhanced.

Earning Your Stripes

   Don't fall down when it comes to admitting mistakes. The credible communicator can admit errors or mistakes in a forthright and direct manner. Address and then go about rectifying errors, restoring confidence in yourself. 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 again.

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. 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, 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.

   Strive to boost your credibility rating in your professional relationships. Don't be in-credible...strive to be incredible!