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8 phrases that boost your credibility

Credibility is a key part of any professional relationship, and it can make the difference between being successful and being sidelined.
Selena Rezvani is a women's leadership speaker and author of the award-winning book, "Pushback: How Smart Women Ask - And Stand Up - For What They Want."
Selena Rezvani is a women's leadership speaker and author of the award-winning book, "Pushback: How Smart Women Ask - And Stand Up - For What They Want."Gabrielle Smarr

No matter what level of leader I’m coaching – an up-and-comer or an established veteran – one of the most common requests I hear is, “I want to speak with more confidence and credibility.”

At its essence, credibility is your ability to be believable – to be worthy of others’ trust. It’s a key part of any professional relationship, whether you’re a manager or an individual contributor, and it can make the difference between being successful and being sidelined. Without credibility, you may miss out on opportunities you well deserve.

Part of communicating credibly means owning your voice and claiming credit for the value, skills and experience you bring the table. At the same time, credible leaders show that they’re intellectually humble. For example, if a leader made a mistake or simply doesn’t know the answer, he or she says so. This matters a lot. Research shows that employees view leaders who humbly admit mistakes as both more effective and likeable. And perhaps more importantly, credible speakers demonstrate care through the way they communicate their content.

When you have credibility, you'll be more likely to be approached for advice and assistance, which can lead to opportunities for promotion or additional responsibilities. Credibility may also help you influence others' opinions and decisions because people trust the information you provide.

Here are some key phrases that will help you boost your credibility at work:

1. I’d like to acknowledge the work of/give credit to…

According to psychologist Dr. Carol Williams-Nickelson, giving credit where it’s due boosts our integrity. When we recognize that we accomplished something with the help of others, it shows that we possess valuable sources of information and have no problem sharing the spotlight.

Dr. Carol Williams-Nickelson writes, “Reputable professionals understand that they never lose credit when they share the glory of their accomplishments with those who have helped them along the way.”

2. Here’s what we know today…Here’s how we’ll build on that in the future...

This is a great phrase to use any time you’re meeting with managers or clients for a progress update. Sometimes, you don’t have everything you expected to have for one reason or another. Perhaps there was a supply chain roadblock, someone wasn’t available for contact, or your team ran into a logistics issue. Whatever the case may be, present the information you do have and explain how you’ll continue to make progress.

Avoid apologizing for what’s outside of your control or using negative phrases, like “We aren’t where we want to be at this point” or starting with “I don’t have 100 percent of the information…” Instead, focus on the work you’ve done and the plan for the future.

3. I’d like to get your feedback…

Asking for feedback can be scary, but it’s absolutely necessary for building credibility. It shows that you value the opinions of your co-workers and colleagues, you want to improve your work, and you’re open to seeing different perspectives.

As such, you open yourself to the possibility of adjusting your processes rather than being stuck in old ways that may be inefficient or simply incorrect.

4. Here’s a summary of the results…

Summaries – like graphics or quick visuals - are incredibly helpful for easily digesting complex information. They can also be used to show that you’ve done the research and work necessary to come to a conclusion.

The Wharton School of Business found that while only half of an audience was convinced by a purely verbal presentation, that number jumped to over two thirds when visuals were added. For example, if you’re trying to describe hiring rates, you can provide a chart or graph that describes current openings by level and average time to fill a role. Managers will see that you aren’t relying on guesswork, assumptions or vague recall – you’re basing your points on concrete information.

5. I appreciate you sharing that. This is new/scary/challenging…

Validating someone’s view – especially if it took courage to share – goes a long way to building trust. That matters on a one-to-one level as well as with your team.

Whether or not you agree with a person’s perspective, you can acknowledge their lived experience to show them you’re open-minded. Appreciating someone else’s perspective also shows that you can find a thread of common ground even in a disagreement and that you aren’t dismissive of dissenters.

6. I wanted to let you know X is on track/on-pace/on-budget.

Some might say that “no news is good news.” However, people love getting good news, especially when money and time are on the line. Sending your clients, managers, or leaders a quick email to occasionally say, “Everything is going well with that important project” will allow them to breathe a sigh of relief.

It’ll stop them from making faulty assumptions in the absence of an update and assure them that they’ve got a trustworthy person on the job.

7. I miscalculated....

When you mess up, realize that you have a time-limited window of learning that not just you, but others can benefit from. Don’t be vague or mysterious about your misstep – share with others that you made a mistake with a partner, vendor or project and tell them the top lesson you learned from it. Not only will you make it OK for others to raise a problem, concern or mistake, you’ll help prevent it from happening again and again.

Whatever you miscalculated – scaling a team, launching a product, securing a board member – is most likely a fixable issue that you can recover from.

8. Thanks for the compliment. I’m thrilled with how it turned out, too!

If someone says something nice about your work, don't dismiss them or turn them down. Instead, accept it and thank them for noticing. Accepting compliments is a great way to boost credibility at work because it shows that you recognize your hard work. If you feel the need to deflect by passing the credit to others, consider instead saying something along the lines of, “Thank you! [This person] was such great support. They helped with [this aspect], and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. We make a great team.”

Remember these phrases the next time you have an important conversation at work. You will not only increase your credibility among co-workers and colleagues, but you might also find that these give you the little boost of self-confidence you need to reach your highest career goals.