Let’s talk openly for a second. Over the past few months, I’ve been faced with several experiences which have formed, and led to this blog being written. So, in the spirit of local business support, and a sense of community – here are just 4 ways to shatter your credibility – and kill the rest of us in the process.
1. When you pretend to be something you’re not.
For many smaller businesses and freelancers who are just starting out on the new business road, establishing credibility as an individual is probably one of the most important tasks you’ll undertake, and continue to focus on for pretty much the rest of your life. Although many have the luxury of instantly being granted business finance, and growing into a team of people who deliver together – many do not and instead, rely on their own drive to deliver what their customers and clients need. And often, in that drive to establish credibility, many businesses lose focus on a transparent, honest approach, and instead – try so incredibly hard to demonstrate just how worthy they are – they furiously sign up to be this one’s associate, and that one’s mentor, they offer you the moon, the sun and the international space station, because they can – and because they think that’s what you need (but they neglect to think just quite how they intend to deliver that), accreditations become the sugar in their tea and are so well-versed at demonstrating just how much good they’re doing that instead of leaving their prospective customers thinking that they’re the perfect match, they are simply left feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Credibility is through the doing – not through demonstrating and telling everyone just how much you know. It’s annoying.
2. When your inner circle lets you down
I witnessed a somewhat embarrassing experience this past week in a local supermarket – the ridicule by some should-have-known-better kids who decided it would be appropriate to fat-shame. And while I was ready to do what I usually do, and politely help correct their intolerable behaviour, I stood a little dumbfounded and watched. And then it dawned on me. What they didn’t realise is that I knew their parents – one of which was the leader of one of the local dieting groups in the area.
Here’s the irony – where this particular leader has been working so hard to counteract the stereotypes and encourage acceptance, her very own internal circle of trust, betrayed her, without her even knowing or realising. In an instance – all credibility lost because “Surely, they should know better having grown up in the same encouraging environment?” I don’t question it – but what I do question is how safe do we feel that our inner circle – and I’m talking about the people you least expect to – truly understand what we are trying to achieve, and are equipped (whether consciously or not), to act as champions on our behalves?
3. When you say one thing, but do another.
I’m a lead by example kind of person – and, perhaps sometimes too passionately, instinctively lose interest when I see anyone saying one thing, but doing another. And unfortunately, once that bubble is burst – it’s very difficult for me to recognise any further credibility in their action. And although as much as this annoys, I recognise that there have been times in my own career where exactly the same has happened as a result of my own ambiguous actions. And I suppose that one of the biggest ambiguities that exist for small businesses is the old “I do so much for my clients, that I never have time to work on my own business” chestnut. That is especially true for Marketing types who day-in and day-out focus on their clients’ social strategies, content pipelines and marketing campaigns that a fortnight passes without a single peep or tweet. (Yes – I’m at fault here). All the more reason why us independent workers need to schedule time for ourselves – and although you may now be calculating the directions to your nearest Spa or Retreat Centre, I’m talking about doing some house work – on your own website, or blog, or books, or social profiles.
4. When you knowingly omit information
A lack of credibility comes in all shapes and sizes – and nothing is truer than discovering a vital piece of information that has been knowingly ommitted from a story which you were led to believe to be true. Yes, omitting information is a sure-fire way to break credibility. Note: I said “omitting information”, and not “being found out”. I realise that a lot of business information is on a need to know basis – and we don’t share our core secrets willingly – but what I’m referring to is the classic case of trying to build a persona for yourself, or your business, but omitting to paint a true picture of just why it is that you are different or superior.
Business is tough. And when businesses fail – it affects us all – regardless of whether their demise pose any threat or opportunity to you. And how much worse is it when fellow businesses try to be something they’re not? Customers get burnt – and the result – it creates a bad light for the rest of us who are working so hard to achieve, and deliver a service filled with integrity, insight and damn hard work.