Always On Stage: CredibilityPeople observe and form impressions about one another as part of our daily interactions. We can assume that we are on stage every day and that our performance may affect not only us but other people as well.

We can influence the impressions that we leave with people when we:

  1. Take responsibility for our performance
  2. Give a credible performance
  3. Prepare for the performance
  4. Give our best performance

Taking responsibility for our performance was covered on my previous blog. Let’s look at how credibility influences peoples’ impression of us.

Credibility depends on developing a relationship with the audience. It is important to recognize that we have a huge influence on our credibility and thus the message that we bring to the stage. Credentials, paper credibility, may open the door but a relationship keeps it open for another visit.

My stage might be the exam room. It is important that when I enter the room that I recognize the patient and make them feel that they are the most important person in the room. I will have more credibility with them when I simply listen and focus on what they have to say. Telling them how great I am might be credible on paper, but on this stage, I must relate to the audience. So credibility will depend on a relationship with the audience (patient).

The relationship also is supported by physical appearance, communication skills, personal mannerisms, and the information shared between the parties. A highly competent physician, covered with tattoos and a nose ring, will have less credibility than a clean cut, well spoken incompetent physician.

Some may argue, “what’s wrong with tattoos?” I’m don’t have a problem with them. But if your audience, the people with whom you wish to establish credibility does not like them, YOU loose credibility.

Over the years, I have interviewed many people for positions with my companies. I have come to the conclusion that the candidate will be the best he or she can be at the interview. If they respect the position that they are seeking, they will present their most credible performance.

But I have had a doctor present for an interview in shorts, wrinkled golf shirt and flip-flops. I couldn’t get past his appearance to assess his clinical competence. I could only picture him trying to convince a patient that he could help them. His performance on the interview stage lacked credibility…a decision that he made.

Credibility plays an important role for the teacher, too. If a teacher, who is on the educational stage, can not relate to her students, the students still get a message, but not necessarily the one that the teacher wants them to have. Credibility depends on relationships more than friendships. Teachers and coaches, who depend on friendships with their students, loose the edge needed to teach.

A salesman will have more credibility when he shows that he believes in his product. He dresses according to the product he sells and the buyer whom he visits. A seed salesman talking to a farmer in the granary next to the corn planter will dress differently than the seed salesman speaking in front of company executives at a national sales meeting.

Does looks determine credibility? It can influence credibility but it does not determine credibility. Credibility is a function of the relationship and the message. It’s interesting to see how the drug companies have marketed their drugs to doctors’ offices over the talents of attractive young sales women.

Are the drugs better when presented by a sexy drug rep? Not likely. Will she have a better chance of a face to face with the doctor, manager or CEO? Likely. Even though today things are changing for the better, we still see companies focused on the value of the first impression over the credibility of their message.

We are always on stage. We will always be delivering a message. People will have an impression of us even if we don’t see them. It’s interesting however, that today we have social media. We know that they cannot see us. We know that they can’t recognize us. So we voluntarily publish information about us including pictures of family, friends and, most importantly, of us.

Will the information that you publish give a credible impression? It might just be personal info or it might just be a comment or opinion. Your moment on the social media stage gave an impression about you to the reader…or readers all over the world.

We work hard to define and execute the elements that will get us credibility. But one factor can destroy credibility and make it difficult to recover. That’s accountability. Your word is you worth…your worth is your word. If our message is to perform, we must perform. Say what you do and do what you say. Be accountable for your message. It will secure credibility.

In the book, “its Not What I Know…It’s How I Learned It,” credibility was an issue in many of my ventures. In some cases, good ideas failed because of lack of credibility. We wrongly focused on paper credibility rather than credibility thru relationships. Compromise the relationship…you compromise credibility.

If we are going to encourage people to have an impression, make it a credible impression. Always look your best, think your best, speak your best. You are always on stage.

Make it a great day Dr L

The next message: Preparing for your performance.