Can You Be Trusted? Fifteen Credibility Busters That Are Ruining Your Life...and How to Stop Doing Them.

Style News Wire | 3/24/2009, 9:37 p.m.
A few questions to ponder: Do people seek out and enjoy my company? Are my relationships—with my romantic partners, friends, ...

"Personal credibility is truly a 'magic bullet' for success and happiness," says Allgeier, author of The Personal Credibility Factor: How to Get It, Keep It, and Get It Back (If You've Lost It) (FT Press, February 2009, ISBN-10: 0-1320827-9-9, ISBN-13: 978-0-1320827-9-2, $18.99). "It forms other people's opinions of you, shapes their interactions with you, and helps them decide whether to trust and respect you. In other words, it leads to healthy, productive relationships—and if you can create those, everything else in life just falls into place."

Clearly, if you don't have any, you need to get some. But what is personal credibility, anyway? Admittedly, it's one of those concepts that people struggle to define. They know it when they encounter it, but they're not sure why. Allgeier explains that personal credibility is "about respect, trust, and being believable."

In short, personal credibility is judged by your actions. What you do—and don't do—determines other people's perceptions of whether you have it.

"Perhaps personal credibility is best understood by its absence," she says. "People may not look at you and say, 'Wow, there's a person with lots of credibility'—but if you display a lack of it, they will most definitely notice."

To make it simpler to understand, Allgeier says we should aim to avoid what she calls "credibility busters." Here are some of the most common:

· Failing to do what you say you will do. The number one way to bust your personal credibility? Just fail to deliver on the promises or commitments you make. We're all guilty of committing this sin from time to time, but when we do it more often than not, we've got a credibility problem.

"How often do you say, 'I'll get that to you today'...and then you don't?" asks Allgeier. "Or 'I'll call you back in a few minutes'...and then you don't? Most people are forgiving when this happens—to a point. But when you make a regular habit of this, well, you quickly become labeled as a promise-breaker. If you're not sure you can follow through on your promises, don't make them. Period!"

· Breaking appointments (or frequently rescheduling them). When you make meetings and appointments, other people expect you to keep those commitments. Have you ever dealt with someone who regularly needed to break or reschedule appointments with you? It's annoying, at best. And after it happens more than once or twice, you stop trusting them. Don't be this person. When you make an appointment, keep it, if at all possible.

"Yes, life can be hectic and sometimes you have no choice but to reschedule," says Allgeier. "That's precisely why you must do everything in your power to keep your appointments most of the time. Then, when you have to make an exception, it will be just that—an exception."

· Constantly showing up late. You say you will meet a friend at 11:30 for lunch. You call on your cell phone and say, "I'll be right there—I'm caught in traffic," and then you arrive at 11:45. Do this once, maybe twice, that's fine. But when it becomes the norm, you have taken a virtual hammer to your personal credibility and it is busted.