Winning At Work is now in its 14th year (wow!), and our fantastic subscribers come from over 80 countries. (If you aren’t already a subscriber, you can do it here). It’s a huge honor to be welcomed into so many inboxes for so long. Thank you so much too everyone for all of the comments, thoughts, suggestions, questions and criticisms you have shared over the years!
For those of you who have been following Winning At Work for some time now, I daresay you may find this issue somewhat puzzling. At first glance it all may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, if not absolutely contradictory to things I’ve written before. Fear not! I haven’t gone to the dark side, I promise. Make sure to read to the end, and hopefully it will all make sense.
Three Skills That Boost Credibility
Credibility is a big factor to being successful in the workplace. You can have the best ideas in the world and be the smartest person in the room, but if people don’t find you credible, you won’t get very far. Here are three simple, yet somewhat odd, skills that can go a long way in boosting your credibility.
1. Stop Smiling
“Seriously?” you’re thinking. “But haven’t you always said that smiling is critical to customer service and relationship-building?” Yes. Yes I have. And if you’ve been following that advice, you will find this skill of knowing when to not smile very powerful indeed. If you’re someone who makes a point to always be smiling, friendly and approachable, it makes a statement when you occasionally stop smiling. The next time you’re in an important meeting and discussing serious things, make a point to stop smiling and direct a laser-focus on those who are speaking. The contrast will be immediately noticeable to everyone in the room. You will stand out far more than those people who are intense all the time.
2. Be Judgemental
As a rule, you don’t want to be one of those people who are constantly judging the people around them. That behavior generally says more about the person doing the judging than the people being judged. Here, however, is an exception to that rule:
When someone in a meeting or discussion raises a good idea or observation, make a point to validate it with simple phrases such as, “That’s a very good point,” or “That is a good idea.” When you assign a value to someone’s idea (e.g., ‘good’, ‘excellent’, etc.), you subtly place yourself in a position of authority. When someone accepts your judgement, which they will typically do when it is a positive one, they are also acknowledging that your opinions have value. (Important note: this can really backfire if you choose to judge something negatively, or if the other person’s idea is, in actuality, horrible.)
3. Don’t Decide
Being decisive is a critical success skill, but when you’re in a meeting with a group of people discussing an important decision, hold off on making comments or decisions. First, ask someone else in the meeting for their opinion. For example, “Susan, this decision is going to impact you quite significantly. What do you think?” By asking this simple and valuable question, you are briefly taking a leadership role in the meeting. And, as long as you haven’t put Susan in an awkward position with the question, she will appreciate your acknowledgement.
Use These Skills Sparingly
Each of these skills only work when used sparingly. If you stop smiling completely, you simply get a reputation as being not enjoyable to be around. If you become chronically judgemental, people will stay away from you in droves. If you always hesitate in making decisions, you will be perceived as weak. When these skills are used sparingly and appropriately, however, people will recognize you as someone who’s thoughts and opinions are worthy of their attention and respect.
“Never try to be someone you are not. But, in doing so, make sure that you are the best version of yourself you can be.”