Credibility Part 2 – The 11 Essential Components – How many do you have? by Matthew Hill

If you haven’t got cred, why get out of bed?

Whether you are a university professor battling your painful way up the academic ladder, an independent trainer providing stimulating sessions in a classroom, or, a coach drumming up new clients, there will be one thing that walks into the room before you do Your Credibility.

It is the label that attaches to you. If you are late for a dinner party or social gathering you will be introduced with that label or property – “Sarah Smith is coming, you know, the one who XXX.” Where XXX represents your reputation / key knowledge asset or the story that sticks to you most.

In the next post – Credibility Part 3, we will outline the key actions you must take in order to boost your credibility to the max and escape any negative aspect of your reputation that is holding you back.

So, what are the components of your credibility? Let us skim the surface with just 11.

*1. Skills and competence – We would not be having this conversation if you were not talented, brimming with potential and waiting to add value to various groups and communities. It is the things you know, can apply and that have an effect that are important.

red vector bubble banner credibility

Skill after skill after skill

Action – Make a note of all the skills, competences and value you have and can bring to a group. When you carry out this exercise with true diligence, the breadth of your list may surprise you.

  1. Benevolent energy – Basically are you a nice person, doing nice things for people who have a clear need? It is the opposite of malevolence – wanting something bad to a happen to a group of people – Imagine the rare instance of a racist politician (hard though that is to imagine.)

Action – Take a brief look in the mirror and ask yourself if you want something good for your target audience? We wish you well with your answer.

  1. Consistency – When you keep your promise, show up on time and deliver results, your credibility will skyrocket. It is simple, though many fail to recognize the importance of this component.

Action – Honesty test – Are you a woman / man of your word?

  1. Look and smell like a winner. As I write this piece it is London Fashion Week (It seems like it always is.) Magazines, Hollywood gossip or Friday night at the pub – The focus is on outer appearance. We are simple forest creatures and we pick our mates and leaders visually. So, you do need to look the part. Tall people do better. Blondes outscore brunettes and bald men are paid less that the lion maned – Nobody said life was fair.

Action – I did attend a serious conference in Germany a few years back that included a specialist on this topic and she concluded that we should all rush out and get a lift, tuck and liposuction! Food for thought…

  1. Eloquent Connecters – We have included two components here for expediency. If you can start with your audience – Work out who they are and communicate effectively with them, you will gain great credibility rapidly. It is less about you and more about them. On top of this if you have a memorable and effective public speaking style, then you will gain bonus credibility points and will experience more control over your own destiny.

Action – Study influencing techniques, learn advanced presentation skills and book yourself some singing lessons this week.

  1. Quality – “Good is not longer good enough. You now have to be remarkable.” (Seth Godin) Excellence is the new normal and we all have to step up in ALL areas. Charm will take you just so far (my spelling mistakes are charming to all those who are not full-on OCD.) Taking your work and output to a new level of accuracy, depth and style will make a big difference.

Action – Use editors and designers, and, practice your pitch in front of constructive critics to take your game up a level.

excellence award - red blurred stamp

At the top of your game

  1. Be a problem solver (and not the problem) The parenthesise refer to Princes and Princess who are perceived as being high maintenance. This becomes their label and overshadows talent, value and core message. There is nothing more attractive to an audience than a fixer, travelling through work and life being willing and able to untangle cables, solve the issue with the numbers, and, move on to deliver results, solve the puzzle and allow others to win.

Action – Please attempt to be user friendly. Practice root cause analysis and problem solving. Learn how the world works and give away your victories.

  1. Reframe pessimism as optimism – Are you a radiator or a drain? Do you suck the life out of a room or illuminate the space in front of you? When you replace low energy passivity with realistic enthusiasm, you will be loved. When you take the negative and reframe it positively, you will be respected. It is easy to join in with a depressed bunch and chime in with the collective moaning – misery loves company. Please do not be tempted to do this. It will become your label. Whinging Winston / Wendy. Nobody will want you at their party.

Action – Practice reframing low energy, blocked and negative group input constructively and positively, adding energy and inspiration into the mix for good measure.

  1. Become the Go To Expert GTE – Taking a couple of the points above, there is a space waiting for you as a Subject Matter Expert – SME. This is about depth and breadth –Mastery of content. When you get there you will, automatically become the GO TO EXPERT person. Is that what you crave? Can you handle the pressure? Are you prepared to step up, take on the role? And deliver?

Action – Study, learn, read, ask to become an SME in your chosen field.

The Winnr is...

  1. Opinion Leader – Subtly different from point 9. Being an OL is a specific role that combines expertise with communication. It is the embodiment of Credibility in action. It actively connects the value that you have with the attention, need and desire of your audience to engage with you, follow you, relate to your purpose and DO WHAT YOU SUGGEST. When you are at this level (the top of the mountain), you will have the power to drive audiences to take meaningful action. You will be able to direct attention to a fruitful and ethical agenda, and, you will be able to make a leveraged difference through the crowd you have gathered. It is an awesome space with a large quotient of moral responsibility. SO – PLEASE – USE YOUR PLATFORM WISELY.

Action – Decide upon a utilitarian path, do the work to get to the top, use your powers for good, and, DO NOT BELIEVE ALL THE HYPE.

Conclusion

You will have noticed the common themes of selflessness, great communication, inclusion of others, putting in the work and keeping to an ethical stance. The rest is up to you.

Question – What will precede you into the room in one year’s time? That depends on what you start doing now.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a trainer, coach, facilitator, author, public speaker and broadcaster, helping executives and leaders to uncover their soft skills talent, strengthen their competences and, whilst reaching their own potential, benefit their teams and their environment.

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Help! Everyone is a China Expert – by Ardi Bouwers

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To read the rest of Ardi Bouwers’ post and find her blog too, just click on the link;  http://www.chinacircle.nl/help-everyone-a-china-expert/

About the Author – Ardi Bouwers is a China and communication expert. She plays with perspectives, jumping from China to the Netherlands and back, to help her clients deal with those difficult direct Dutch or the cautious circling Chinese, in order to build greater mutual trust and understanding.”

She can be reached via ardi@chinacircle.nl

What is a citizen and how do I become one? by Daphne Laing

We are all global citizens now, but what does this actually mean?

If we accept that an individual can have multiple non-opposing identities, it would logically follow that it is possible to have multiple citizenships, as indeed many of us do…yet this multiplicity seems only to mean that we can use different passports to facilitate travel from one political system to another….and has nothing to do with sharing values, rules etc. Having looked at the questions for the UK citizenship test and scored a big fat zero on history, just scraping through, I am having an(other) identity crisis…… a UK passport holder born, brought up, educated and tax paying in UK for most of my working life, having taught English, acculturation and intercultural communication for 35 years, I am somewhat surprised at the criteria for citizenship of “my” country.

multiple non-opposing identities

Memories of Communication

Multiple non-opposing identities

For the first time I ask myself “Do I want to be a citizen?” Though I feel a strong connection with my home culture and I understand that on a deep level I probably make assumptions and bear prejudices that would link me to membership of a group of “people like me”, I have long preferred to introduce myself to “others” as a European- thus avoiding the Westerner (i.e USA) or the British (i.e. football hooligan) labels. I am proud of the values which underlie the formation of and continuance of EU, and believe passionately that the institution, for all its faults, has gone a long way to building bridges, to signalling a third way of “doing things”; an alternative to purely money or military oriented politics…. And a clearly stated definition of citizenship.

Yes, I like that…….

To note the ease with which I can explain my choice of association and acknowledge the possibility of duality here may go a long way to explaining my utter bafflement at recent events; but does this also indicate that EU citizenship as a concept is doomed to be more divisive than inclusive? A Them or Us sense of belonging which by its very nature hints at republicanism?

This brings me to a third model: global citizenship, whose qualities seem to be espoused by international NGOs like Oxfam and which is defined as a quality a person demonstrates whose identity is linked more with a common humanity than with any political or other allegiance- but if citizenship means to be held to account by a system; history; shared values, how can any of us possibly call ourselves global citizens except as representing an academic intellectual stance?….

Recent developments have forced me to reflect on what it means to belong….to an organisation at odds with my personal values; to a country hurtling towards xenophobia and isolationalism……

Am I the only one to feel like le Petit Prince?

“To establish ties?”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Little Prince

About the Author – Daphne Laing is a renowned education professional in the field of culture, language and citizenship.

daphne-laing

The French Paradox, Part I: “Oui…mais…”, By Anke Middelmann

“Oui…mais…”, or,”Finding the Perfect Solution”

In the early years of my teaching and training career in France, I was often confronted with comments from such as: “All the French do is talk—but there’s no action” (Anglo-Saxon, North European, Indian, Chinese); “they’ve agreed to something and then change their mind at the last minute” (German managers), “they overcomplicate everything” (British), and more general remarks that “they contradict everything”, “always disagree and complain”, “are disorganized” and “cannot be relied upon”.

Man drawing a picture of Paris

Determined to find satisfactory answers, I had to look no further than the French Enlightenment philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650). And was delighted that all the above could, in some way, be linked to his theories, specifically his anti-thèse. Eureka!

Just how does it work? One of René (“I think, therefore I am”) Descartes’ main premise is that thinking should be driven by logic and rationality. His argued that “doubt is the origin of wisdom”, and that, in seeking the Truth, “it is necessary… to doubt, as far as possible, all things”. Moreover, to find this Truth (i.e., the perfect solution), “it is important to have a Method“—known as the thèse – antithèse – synthèse.

Still today, this Cartesian “method” is applied in all situations. The starting point (thèse) is straightforward—it’s the problématique, or proposition, situation, problem, or project to be dealt with. It’s the second stage, the anti-thèse, the process of figuring out the solution, that is tricky and that confounds non-French counterparts. While the British generally come up with an objective, devise a way forward, and change course if necessary, and the Germans develop, and follow, a structured approach, the French do something entirely different.

This is where Descartes’ “doubt”, or “scepticism”, comes in. Since the anti-thèse requires that everything be questioned, the French consider all aspects of an issue by “dividing each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it” (Descartes). It means dissecting, questioning, and possibly rejecting, all angles, knowledge and facts; it is important to decide not necessarily how or whether something will work, but rather why it might not, and if an existing or initial approach is indeed best. It leads to: “Yes, this might work, but…”; “What happens if we do/don’t do it this way?”; “How about this instead of that—or something else entirely?” In working through the anti-thèse, one may retain some initial elements, but discard others, inject new facts, develop new possible approaches, and subsequently review everything (thereby repeating the whole process!) to ultimately agree (often at the last minute) on the solution—the synthèse!

To onlookers, this contradictory back-and-forth thinking process, changing minds and plans, especially at the last minute, the lack of action until a solution is considered finite, the seemingly critical oui…mais, is time-wasting, exhausting and unnecessary intellectual acrobatics. However, to the French, not leaving any stone unturned implies doing a sloppy job. As one Frenchman observed: “We cannot work otherwise, even if, in the end, we go back to our first idea.” Although complex, complicated, contradictory and seemingly disorganised, the “Cartesian Method” can be highly creative and has made France a technologically and scientifically innovative power house: the high-speed TGV train, the Ariane space rocket, Minitel (a Videotex online system that predated the internet by several decades), the Eiffel Tower, the morning-after pill, to name just a few, are all innovations achieved through the Cartesian approach.

How to practically deal with the anti-thèse on a daily basis? Understanding goes a long way: international students and managers say that just knowing that everything will take longer, involve discussion and difference of opinion, makes things less frustrating; a German manager said he now sits back, patiently observing the commotion of the anti-thèse, and reorganising his time accordingly. Non-French university teachers adjust class content to give students more time to discuss their ideas. Others are delighted that their French counterparts’ frequent oui…mais is nothing personal. And yet others see the process as a worthwhile exercise to hone their own observational and thinking skills, and to develop new ways of seeing the same issue.

I’m not saying it’s easy to adapt; just like the process itself, it takes time, patience, and mental agility. Personally, I’ve learned to listen for the oui—without the mais—to know we’re ready to go.

Anke Middelmann was born and raised in Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium. She spent most of her working life in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States, before moving to France in 2004.

anke middlemann Anke Middelmann – intercultural trainer and coach

She is Lecturer in Multicultural Management at Skema Business School, and Director of two of Skema’s International MSc Programmes.

As an intercultural trainer and coach, she provides training and coaching on a range of multicultural and intercultural issues. She regularly provides training on “Living and Working in France” and the complexities of Franco-German working for Air Liquide, Eurosport, AXA, Valéo, Bayer, Areva, Thales, Adeo Services, Dassault, among others.