Three "C's" shape the way other people listen to us, says Susan Mason. If they think we possess competence, character and a can-do attitude, they'll find us credible, and they'll be more influenced by what we say.
"Your job is to always build credibility," says Mason, a principal with Vital Visions Consultants. "It's something that, every day, you're either building or eroding" in the eyes of others.
Before you approach another person about something significant—a major new purchase for the office or a shift in your responsibilities, for example—assess your credibility when it comes to these three characteristics:
- Competence. The other person will judge you based on the knowledge, experience and confidence you've shown in the past, as well as on the relevant knowledge you're showing now. Example: If you're proposing a shift in job duties, come armed with statistics, historic information and a detailed proposal.
- Character. People make judgments about your character based on whether you behave in ways similar to them. The more like them you are, the more success you'll have in a conversation. Example: You and your conversation partner may both have small children. But when your child is sick, you stay home, while your colleague does not. That's the sort of thing that can affect their assessment of your character.
- Can-do attitude. People are more influenced by colleagues with an optimistic outlook who always put forth their best effort. Tip: If you're proposing a purchase for the office, like a new software package, emphasize how optimistic you are about all the things you could do with it, rather than dwelling on how frustrated you are without it.