Are you believable? You just can’t believe everything you read! You have also heard the similar statement about things “you hear” These proclamations are common in our era of information overload. If you are going to take the time to communicate, it is wise to make sure you are believable.

A believable person is a trusted individual who is real and authentic. They offer time-tested truth that helps people in a beneficial manner without gimmicks, flattery, deception, conjecture, or self-serving interests. If you communicate in a way that is not authentic, you will not be believable.

Election cycle advertising is the poster child of not being believable. There appears to be more focus on manipulating human emotion to get the vote than on statements of reality intended to persuade the mind. Political advertising is difficult to believe for the thinking person.

Some might make the mistake of assuming that you can fake believability. For actors, it is their job to make a character believable. As an entertainer, actors must convince their audience of the realness of their role. It is what audiences pay to see. We want to be carried away by the suspense of a good story for the duration of the show. If it gets too intense, we remind ourselves that it is only a performance. This is great for the movies, but lousy in life.

Each of us has our own story to tell. Like actors, we too need to be believable. Unlike actors, we need to be genuine. Generally speaking, others want us to believable or they would not give us their time or attention.

The basic element of believability is trust. We do not believe anyone we do not trust. This is a fundamental principle. Unfortunately, trust is something others bestow upon us, and therefore, like our reputation, it is difficult to control.

There is lots of advice about how to be believable that I want to avoid repeating. Much of it deals with technique and personal passion about the message begin conveyed. While these suggestions are important, I want to add a few ideas for you to consider that go a little deeper.

Here are some thoughts on becoming more believable.

  • Be honest even when you cannot be totally transparent. Most people respect privacy or the need to restrict certain information. Never hide the fact that you cannot share. Simply give a reason why you are not sharing everything. (I will write a follow-up blog to elaborate the difference between authenticity and transparency.)
  • Take responsibility and demonstrate leadership in situations that require it. Averting responsibility or making excuses does not build confidence.
  • Listen and speak to questions people are asking or to issues people are facing. Speak to the real need, not the symptoms.
  • Never try to fake an answer. If you do not have the relevant information, admit it. Do not neglect to ask clarifying questions if you aren’t sure of an issue or question.
  • Follow up on commitments and promises. Be responsive and make sure you do not leave people guessing.
  • Make sure your message is consistent. Self-contradiction only leads to confusion producing doubt about whether or not you know what you are talking about.
  • Take the time to research basic advice on how to be believable such as passion, confidence, body language, voice tones, expertise, etc. You might pick up an easy tip.

If you have a message to communicate, it is imperative that you are believable to other people. Believability starts with trust. While you do not control trust, you can be intentional about being genuine, responsive, and honest.

What do you believe is the most important characteristic to be believable?


Are You Believable?
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2 thoughts on “Are You Believable?

  • Steve, I agree with you that trust is paramount to believability. Trust is something you want to cultivate and hold on to. Once you lose it, it’s difficult to regain. You gain trust by always being honest, following up and delivering what you said you would. Thanks for your words today. I built on your transparency/privacy comments to respond to an online job application.

    1. Trust is certainly fundamental and is developed over time. Building and maintaining trust should be a main priority.

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