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Time to Check Credibility

IT'S TIME FOR A CREDIBILITY CHECK because your credibility may have taken a "hit" in 2013.

Perhaps you were late more times than you would like to admit, you missed several deadlines, you told a few white lies to clients, and somehow you turned into one of the office's top gossips. There may even have been a couple of bigger transgressions: like promising to increase your sales by 50 percent and then coming in way under the mark (tanking your department in the eyes of the higher-ups).

Fortunately, if you do take a credibility check and find yourself lacking, it's not too late to start making repairs.

That's the good news from Julie Miller and Brian Bedford., co-authors of Culture Without Accountability-WTF? What's the Fix?
 
 "Credibility is a bit like Humpty Dumpty: easy to crack and substantially more difficult to put back together after the fact," says Miller. "But it can be done if you're willing to follow a specific set of rules from now on.

 "While a sincere apology for your behavior is the first step, it's certainly not the last one. Moving forward, you will need to show others through your behavior that they really can depend on you, and that you won't drop that particular ball again.

 Here are a few rules the co-authors suggest:

         Credibility Repair #1: Cop to it when you screw up. It's only human nature to make excuses when things go wrong. How often have you said, "It wasn't my fault," or worse, "It was his/her/their fault, not mine," when you knew perfectly well that the blame should be placed at your feet?

Credibility Repair #2: Always do what you say you'll do. Doesn't it make you crazy when someone says, "I'll get back to you tomorrow on that," and days later you haven't heard a word? Or, "We'll make sure you get it on Monday," and nothing happens? Don't be that person," instructs Miller. 

Credibility Repair #3: Tell the truth. Remember those little white lies you told to get out of a commitment ("Oh, that email must have gotten lost in my spam folder!") or those misleading statements you made that contained enough truth to sound legitimate?
"Do that too often, and you'll become known as someone whose word isn't worth much," comments Bedford. "Telling the truth can be hard, but it's always worth it in the long haul."

Credibility Repair #4: Speak up when you see something wrong. Remember that time when one of your peers was throwing his weight around and bullying one of his employees? Not wanting to get involved in the drama, you took the "none of my business" approach to dealing with the problem. You chose not to speak up about the guy's bad behavior to keep yourself out of the line of fire. 

"Here's a reality check," says Bedford. "Ignoring someone else's bad behavior is just as bad as committing the act yourself. When people see you ignoring these problems, especially when you're in a position to do something about them, they think you're approving the bad behavior. They assume you're the same kind of person as the manager yelling at his employees. Don't be guilty by association. Speak up and show that you value fairness and respect."

Credibility Repair #5: Give constructive feedback (and do it thoughtfully). Miller and Bedford say, "Most people don't like giving feedback and like getting it even less." That's because feedback usually involves suggestions for improvement. (Ergo, your work isn't currently up to snuff.) That's why it's important to give helpful feedback and to do so in a way that won't offend the recipient.

Credibility Repair #6: When you're on the receiving end, accept feedback gracefully. Hopefully, if someone has chosen to give you some feedback, it's the product of a lot of thought and is meant to make you better.Credibility Repair #7: Be respectful. No matter how many other things you get right, if you're a total jerk, people aren't going to think very highly of you.

Credibility Repair #7: Say yes only when you mean yes. There are a lot of reasons why you might say yes to another person's request when you truly don't feel comfortable doing so. Maybe you're a "pleaser" who hates disappointing others. Perhaps you want to avoid conflict. Or maybe you simply want to shut down an interaction that's dragging on and on.
"Whatever your reasons, 'yes' doesn't ultimately work unless you mean it," points out Bedford. "You'll either have to perform a task you don't believe in or don't want to do (which is bad), or you'll have to break your word (which is worse). Say yes only when you mean it. Even if others don't like hearing 'no,' your credibility will stay intact."

Credibility Repair #8: Over-commit and over-deliver. The world is full of people who want to do only the bare minimum. When you push yourself to commit to just a little bit extra, then make sure you get it done, you set yourself apart in the best possible way.
Credibility Repair #10: Be on time. Sure, there are legitimate reasons why even the most responsible person might be running late: a fender bender, a sick child, or an unfortunate coffee spill, to name just a few. And yes, everybody gets a pass on this one from time to time when life's curveballs happen.

"But by and large, being late-especially if it's a habit-is disrespectful," points out Bedford. "It communicates that you don't value others' time, and that you think you're more important than they are. On the other hand, being on time just takes a little effort and a little planning, but will garner a lot of respect and appreciation."
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