In every seminar I lead, I try to make the point that the there are really only three things that one has to in order to be a great communicator; Maintain Credibility, Make Others Feel Important, and Don’t Be Creepy. I know it’s simplistic, but try to poke a hole in this argument. If you’re credible, make others feel important and aren’t creepy about it, you’re going to be a great communicator. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy.
The Hardest Part
Of the three things that make a great communicator, building and maintaining credibility is both the most important and most difficult to accomplish, but it’s the most critical. Credibility really is the starting point for communication because if people don’t believe what we say, what’s the point of talking?
We all know people who tell us everything we want to hear, and they tell us in a way that sounds so good that we really want to believe them, but we know they’ll never come through on it. In my seminars, I make the point that these people are called politicians and everybody laughs because most politicians lack credibility. They don’t do what they say they will do and everyone knows they’re making promises simply to persuade. Because there’s no credibility, there’s no trust and without trust, there’s no communication.
What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you say.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What Kills it?
There is simply nothing that kills credibility faster than gossip. I know this is bad news because we all love to gossip, but it it’s destroying our credibility every time we do it. I like to think of gossip as being just like Coca-Cola. I love Coke. I think it’s the best tasting soft drink ever made and I absolutely love it. But I know it’s not good for me. My body doesn’t handle the sugar very well and while it tastes good in the moment, an hour after drinking it, I don’t feel good and I need a nap. It’s the same way I feel about gossip. In the moment, it feels good. We know something about someone and to share it with someone else gives the feeling of being powerfulAfterward, however, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we feel a little sick about it. That sick feeling is the loss of our credibility with ourselves and if we don’t trust us, how can we ask someone else to?
On top of losing credibility with ourselves, other people recognize it too. They wonder what we’re telling others about them and suddenly, they don’t trust us either. It’s a lose / lose proposition.
Build and Maintain Credibility
In order for our words to carry value, there has to be something behind them. People have to take us seriously to believe us. The only way to build and maintain that much needed credibility is to do what we say we will do, come through on commitments, and tell the truth.
Being a great communicator is actually pretty simple. It isn’t easy, but it is simple. Building and maintaining credibility is the starting point and it speaks even when we’re silent. Make sure it’s telling the story you want your listener to hear.