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Chapter 1 – Establishing Your Credibility

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.

-Stephen Covey

If I only had three words of advice, they would be, Tell the Truth. If I got three more words, I’d add, all the time.

-Randy Pausch

When you break your word, you break something that cannot be mended.

-No attribution

When gamblers go to the racetrack, they consider the horses’ prior performance when placing their bets. When investors buy stocks, they look at the past performance of the mutual fund or the corporation. When voters go to the polls, they consider the voting record of the candidate before casting their ballot for or against. Yes, hunches and name recognition play a part in all these situations, but over the long haul, performance profoundly affects our decisions about whom we believe. The same is true in leading, learning, or loving: credibility counts.

Tip 1. Find Commonalities.

People like people who are like them. And people believe and trust people they like. Try to discover attitudes, likes, dislikes, family backgrounds, experiences, personality virtues or quirks, careers, goals, or values that you have in common with others. Researchers tell us that attitudes and morals are what matter most to the majority of people. So those are the commonalities you want to emphasize. People reason that if you’re like them in one of these key ways, you’re probably like them in other ways. Therefore, they begin to transfer trust to you as friend to friend.

Tip 2. Show Concern and Compassion.

People tend to trust people who show concern for them. When they bleed, they want to know that others are bleeding with them. Even companies have to show concern rather than self-interest in times of crisis.

During the Pepsi needle-syringe-tampering reports, you may recall the criticism that some expressed concerning the company’s handling of that crisis. When the public asked about the possibility of recalls, Pepsi officials fell back on logic: the cans were bottled at different plants in different parts of the country, and there was no logical pattern to the alleged tampering incidents. So, there were no recalls: a logical decision. But Pepsi received criticism not for what it said, but for what it didn’t say: some believed that it failed to show concern about public safety.

With the more recent reports of accidents involving acceleration problems with Lexus cars, the same issue arose. The first reaction from executives at Lexus? “Let’s investigate.” The public outcry: “Show some concern, then investigate.”

The BP oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico generated the same reaction: Outrage at the executives in charge at the time of the spill because of their public comments that showed more regard for the intrusion on their personal time to handle the accident than for the loss of life and property.

The same sentiment is true on an individual level. People have to feel your concern before they hear your words.

Tip 3. Demonstrate Cooperation With Good Intentions.

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