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spike bullet August 2016 ~ Credibility Revisited

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color bulletAugust 2016 ~ Credibility Revisited

I recently served on a jury where the credibility of witnesses played the determining role in our decision. 

In the case of the jury, we were given certain stipulated facts (agreed upon by both sides), some documents entered into evidence, and the testimony by the accusing party and testimony by the defendant.  The prosecuting attorney and defense attorney gave their viewpoints about the case.

Our job was to decide whether the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt or not guilty.  Because this was a criminal offense, we had to come to a unanimous decision.

The jury was composed of people from a variety of backgrounds.  We were not allowed to do our own research or background checking so all of our decisions had to be based only on what happened in the courtroom.  All of the people we encountered on the case were previously unknown to us.

The decision of the jury came down to credibility.  We were asked to decide:

1. Whether the prosecution and accusing witness had proven that the defendant had broken the law.

2. Or, whether the defendant was not guilty of the charges because the prosecution failed to prove their case.

In our justice system, a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.  Our American jury system is unique in that we bring together 12 people ó strangers who have no prior knowledge of the case ó to listen to both sides and make a unanimous decision.  The jury does not decide the punishment for the crime.  A judge sentences the defendant according to the law for the offense if they are found guilty.

To determine credibility in a jury, we need to decide whether the person making statements is consistent in the way they present themselves.  Are they calm, excited, angry, overwrought, emotional, thoughtful, consistent, factual?  Do they have other documents or proof that support their version of what happened?  What does their body language say?  Does their version of the facts seem reasonable compared to testimony of other witnesses?

In business, we deal with credibility issues every day.  We make business decisions based on the credibility of the people we interact with as well as the facts of the situation.  In business, we are usually able to do independent research about issues.  We often have more experience over time with individuals that we work with so we build up a sense of our experience with them that helps us gauge their credibility for a new issue.

Some things to consider in evaluating credibility: 

  1. Is the person usually kind, polite, respectful and considerate?  Or are they usually rude, judgmental, angry or argumentative?  
  2. Does their story match the stories we hear from others about the same incidents or issues or events?  
  3. Are they consistent in their behavior and actions over time?  
  4. Can we count on them to be on time, to deliver their work by deadlines and to own up to their responsibilities?  
  5. Do they do what they promise?  Or, are they late and make excuses when things are not done on time or not done correctly?  
  6. Does the person have experience, background, education or other credentials that show knowledge and understanding of the topic they are discussing? 

We learn over time whether someone is usually accurate in the facts they state or the sources they use.  We learn if someone is constantly "making up stories" rather than reporting actual facts.

People who are honest and consistent in behavior are the ones most trusted and have the most credibility.  People who cannot be counted on are usually not trusted and have less credibility.

One of the most memorable classes that I took in high school was Critical Analysis where we had to evaluate written documents, advertisements, television news reports, and other material to decide whether they were accurate or not, and why.  We spent the entire year doing this type of homework every week.  The skills I learned are still with me today.  I still catch myself looking for additional sources for something that someone says or re-reading something that seems "off" somehow until I can understand what bothers me about it.

Trust and credibility are very important in business.  If you donít trust the people you work with, everyone suffers and the business suffers.

A team is only as strong as the weakest link.  A business is only successful when it has credibility with its customers and clients.

People may not remember what you said and may not remember the details of what you did.  They will remember how they felt during their interactions with you.  Will you leave them feeling good or feeling angry?  That's the essence of credibility. 

  Internet Resources

book graphic  BooksDisclosure: We get a small commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.

  • Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It (2nd edition). James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. Jossey-Bass Publishers. 2011.  ISBN 978-0470651711
  • There's No Such Thing As "Business" Ethics: There's Only One Rule For Making Decisions.  John C. Maxwell. 2003, Warner Faith. ISBN: 0446532290
  • The Transparency Edge: How Credibility Can Make or Break You in Business.  Barbara Pagano, Elizabeth Pagano, 2003, McGraw-Hill.  ISBN: 0071422544
  • Transforming Your Dragons: Turning Personality Fear Patterns into Personal Power. Jose Stevens. Bear & Co; (July 1994) ISBN: 1879181177
  • The High Price of Manhood: A man's action plan for getting along better in the 21st century.  Michael Jay Anthony.  Lulu, 2015.  ISBN 978-1-312-29139-3 (paperback).  ISBN 978-1-329-58227-9 (ebook/PDF).
  • Income Without a Job: Living Well Without a Paycheck.  Michael Jay Anthony, Barbara J. Taylor., 2008  ISBN-13: 978-0-557-00377-8.  Website:  Tap into your own creativity and use  your full potential.  Learn how to see opportunities that others miss.   

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter article:
    September 2013 ~ Credibility 
    February 1996 ~ Characteristics of Admired Leaders
    February 2004 ~ Corporate Integrity & Credibility: Why it is so important
    November 2000 ~ Effective Written Communication
    November 2008 ~ Being trustworthy won't make you a Trusted Advisor
    August 1999 ~ It's the Manager ... 

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

Who you are speaks so loudly, I can't hear what you are saying ... Ralph Waldo Emerson


About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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Page updated: October 16, 2023      

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