You need to build credibility to win. That’s true for trial lawyers, of course, but it’s also true for parents, partners, real estate agents, salespeople, doctors and educators. In my experience, credibility beats likability when it matters.
Sometimes when our trials are over, the Judges ask the lawyers to speak with the jury. That’s fun if you’ve won, and less so if you’ve lost. But it is always educational. One time, after a win, a juror said to me “I didn’t like your client very much, but I trusted you” I’m not sure that it was trust, as I believe trust takes more time to establish then the weeks I have with my juries. I think that juror found me credible.
I dedicate a whole chapter of my book, The Elegant Warrior-How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself to credibility. You have to set expectations and meet them, make promises and keep them. And if you can’t (it happens) you have to explain, ideally face-to-face. It’s hard work, but it is worth it. No matter what you do, credibility helps you do it better.
Take medicine, for example. Last week we talked about the placebo study that showed that patients who are allergic to poison ivy will break out in hives if their doctor tells them a harmless plant is poison ivy! That shows the power of the mind, but it also shows the power of trust. When a patient trusts a doctor, a client trusts an agent, a customer trusts a seller or an employee trusts a boss, the foundation for a win is laid. Credibility is the beginning of trust.
So build your credibility to win with the people around you. Set expectations and meet them. Make promises and keep them. And if you can’t, explain why. I don’t think you have to choose between likability and credibility. I think they can be the same. Build your credibility and the people around you won’t just like you, they ‘ll trust you. And that is everything.