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Increasing your Credibility in 30 days: How to Brag without Bragging

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Increasing your Credibility in 30 days: How to Brag without Bragging
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The meek have not inherited the earth and it appears they won’t anytime soon. The people who get ahead are the ones who know how to brag without coming across the wrong way. There is no one right way to do this but having enhanced credibility paves the way to becoming a successful braggart rather than a boor.

At its simplest, building credibility in the public realm involves creating credible content and spreading it around. The process of building a public profile is not an extremely difficult one but it does take a sustained, considered effort. Taking several well paced and relatively small steps over a 30 day period can yield handsome dividends.

1. Print out or ‘screen capture’ the first three pages of Google hits.
The internet and its search engines have become so ubiquitous that a reputation is becoming defined by what the first 3 pages of Yahoo! or Google search hits turns up. Forget about personal and professional references for making a first impression because the internet search gets done before that. Work on improving the hit list.

2. Review your scrapbook.
This involves going through the various past accomplishments, brochures, awards, correspondence, etc. and any sources of what could be considered public or quasi-public content and creating a pool to draw from for building the foundation.

3. Write an article that captures the essence of what you are doing that makes you great.
An easy type of article to write is one that incorporates a ten point list, targeting the key area or areas. Circulate the article or drafts while soliciting feedback from select friends, clients and partners.

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4. Submit one article to a general online publication.
Why an online publication? Simply, to become friendly to the internet search engines. Online publications are easier to get articles into, faster to get published, stick around a long time, are easily searched and provide valuable direct links to the company – all while improving the Google three page search hits profile.

5. Submit one article to a trade specific publication.
This is remarkably easy to do by simply reshaping the original article with relatively little effort and getting it into an online or print media format where there is no competition with paid writers. Many associations actively seek interesting contributions from their members, and also from non-members.

6. Submit one article to an offline publication.
Generally, this involves a need to call the editor and pitch the piece by way of sending a summary or sending a previous online one as a sample.

7. Find third party research and material that supports your views.
There is nothing wrong with promoting or citing other people’s materials where they reinforce your main message. In fact the opposite is usually true. A great way to enhance credibility is through association with others who are already perceived as credible with the audience you are trying to reach.

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8. Add any credible logos to your website or documents.
Logos from client companies, trade associations, major media that provided coverage, not-for-profit organizations and any other relevant ones should be included to enhance your public profile.

9. Post your profile on various social networking sites.
Many of these websites and networking systems have very high placements with google and other search engines. Include company and professional profiles, limiting jargon, in such a way that a wide audience can understand the information which should be well written and appear professional.

10. Get listed in media and professional directories.
Media people have a constant need to call on experts in various areas to get a quote they can use for whatever they are working on. You should become known as a person to go to for expertise in an area.

11. Send testimonials to credible people who will post it on their website.
These testimonials must be consistent with the core article and key messaging. They should go to people who would be good to associate with to add value and credibility.

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12. Nominate companies or people for awards.
Receiving an award or public acknowledgment is a great way to enhance credibility for the recipient. It also reflects well on whoever makes the nomination.
Nominating a company or individual for an award does not mean they should be automatically expecting to win. Fortunately, most know the difference between being nominated and winning so won’t start ordering champagne ahead of time.
Be prepared to show up at the event if your nominee wins!

13. Position yourself as an expert in your area.
Which area is not as important as being able to hold oneself out as a credible expert. To do so involves preparing a focused bio and creating an expert statement with some supporting materials. Media people habitually seek quotes from experts on whatever subject they are reporting on.

14. Ask for testimonials from credible people and companies.
Testimonial quotes must be consistent with the core article to reinforce the main message. To gain maximum impact, however, it is important to become involved with the best wherever possible. Incorporate written, audio or video testimonials and quotes into website, brochure, audio and video content.

15. Create framed thank you letters and send them to opinion leaders or admired companies.
Fan mail is usually appreciated by whomever receives it. Even when they are very busy while at the top of their game, they will often have time to read and respond to it. Companies often prominently place such letters in their front offices and hallways where they can remain for several years. What they rarely receive is a fan letter than comes in a frame and is ready for public display. You can call on these people later to ask them for favors.

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16. Post comments on trade-specific websites.
Much like in the case of testimonials, quality counts more than quantity. A couple key comments on a couple good sites will again boost search engine results. Use a real name to avoid it being one of the myriad anonymous bits that fill cyberspace.

A well-executed process for a person or small business intent on increasing credibility through an enhanced public profile will yield a sound profile in days rather than months or years. Initially, the process focuses on setting the foundation. Once a good foundation has been set, then it becomes time to engage the media. At the end of the process, one will have the respect that has been earned and not come across as boorish while bragging.

Peter Paul Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa are co-founders of Atomica Creative Group , a specialized strategic product marketing firm. Through leading edge insight and research, sound strategic planning and effective project management, Atomica helps companies achieve greater success in bringing new products to market and in improving their existing businesses. They have co-authored Overcoming Inventoritis now available.

More by this author

Tatsuya Nakagawa

Tatsuya Nakagawa is the CEO of Castagra and a Podcaster.

How to Move Forward Once You Have Achieve a Big Goal The Golden Rule Of Referrals: Learn to Give a Perfect Referral Burn The Business Plan: Write a Book Instead How to Give a Killer Evaluation Increasing your Credibility in 30 days: How to Brag without Bragging

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8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

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8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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