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Earn your credibility

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next 132 days, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

34 Credibility

Credibility is the backbone of your authority and power in any negotiation, and a necessary foundation upon which to build a successful business. You must establish credibility in every negotiation, and develop it over time by your impeccability in all aspects of your business – from finalising contracts to prompt follow-through on agreements; offering a high quality of services and products; and providing good follow-up support, as well as being consistent in various other aspects of ongoing business dealings and customer relations.

As a ground rule, don’t assume that your credibility is established in the other party’s mind at the start of a negotiation. Be willing to demonstrate and earn it in every negotiation, and in all post negotiation follow-up that may occur.

How do you establish credibility from the start? It helps to arrive at the negotiation table with your good reputation preceding you. But if you are an unknown actor, with no credibility or reputation established, you must begin building a sterling reputation and bankable credibility in this negotiation. The integrity of your words, presence, attitude, actions, and motives, and also your clarity, confidence, and competence, fashion your credibility. But your external appearance – your clothes, your manners, your composure, and the tone, pace, and fluidity of your voice – are also influential factors.

While first impressions are important and can create lasting perceptions, they are not sufficient in and of themselves to establish your credibility. People like dealing with people they like, or with people who seem like themselves. But they prefer dealing with people who have character, people who are competent, and people they can trust. They will judge your ongoing manner, temperament, and the composure you exude and assess whether you are friendly, sociable, and have a sense of humour. But they will also judge your honesty, your expertise, and your overall character.

Your credibility will be measured over time as those with whom you do business assess your competence, your character, your track record, and your proven ability and reliability. Trust that, if you conduct yourself impeccably over time and deliver on your promises, those you do business with will notice and respond with appreciation, respect, and loyalty.

Here are some basic principles to follow to establish credibility on the spot in a meeting, and over time in a developing business relationship.

  • Be punctual and organised. Showing up on time and prepared demonstrates your business ethics and basic reliability. It shows that you value your time and theirs.
  • Always tell the truth when asked questions, and when touting yourself, your product, or service. The truth eventually rises to the surface. And any lack of truthfulness on your part blows your credibility and creates understandable mistrust in others. People are forgiving of weakness, but they never forgive or forget being lied to in a negotiation or cheated in a deal.
  • Keep your word in big matters and small details. Integrity is in the nuances, in dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.
  • Prize your own integrity above the deal. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Keep your word by following through and delivering on your promises. Holding yourself accountable to a higher standard than just making a profit establishes sterling credibility that will profit you over the long haul.
  • Be relatively humble. Don’t blow your own horn too loudly by telling too many wonderful things about yourself or your company. You can promote yourself, your company, and your product without resorting to hype. Let the other party discover your wonderful achievements, virtuous character, and remarkable skills in the natural course of your negotiations and follow-up business.
  • Once you’ve established a rapport in a negotiation and the other party is interested in what you’re offering, it’s time for necessary practical candour. If the services or goods you offer have minor gaps, or potential weaknesses or flaws that you would want to know about if you were on the other side of the table, address them now. This will make the other party raise questions and concerns they might have been reluctant to mention and which might have prevented a deal. Full disclosure up-front is a better principle of business than plausible denial later on. It gives you credibility on the spot, and it will give you credibility over time. This full-disclosure candour also gives credence to your positive claims. And most people will appreciate and even admire your honesty.

All of the above elements build rapport and enhance your credibility. They will make other people trust you, respect you, and feel more comfortable in their selection of your product or services.


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