The Ability to Determine Credibility

Posted by on Apr 7, 2011 in ComLead

One thing I’ve gained from Graduate school is the skill of being an active learner. It is important to consider what is being taught or read instead of passively accepting information as valid. This is a trait too often underdeveloped.

Most people take facts as they are given to them without considering where they come from, or whether they are credible. Credibility is everything. Last night in the Persuasion and Social Influence class taught in the program, we had a discussion about the primary dimensions of credibility: competence, character and caring. When considering the interpersonal communication implications, it is important to understand how people construct a credible identity.

Credibility is constructed through symbols, some of which include titles and clothing. This is extremely useful to consider when establishing credibility with co-workers, trying to have your perspective understood and when trying to make a positive first impression. A person wears a suit to an interview in order to convey professionalism, an M.D uses the title of Dr., and ads use testimonials of consumers on how great their product is.

While understanding how to build credibility can help you, it can also allow you to be defensive of others’ who are try to persuade you. In everyday conversation people cite statistics to prove a point- how do we know they are valid? Are you more willing to trust someone dressed nicely or who is wearing rags? These cues are strong tactics. You can be a better consumer of information by actively engaging in discerning whether or not they do actually give credibility to the source, or indicate that it is not as legitimate as it might seem.

It is interesting to consider how much information people and media disburse. Giving thought to each and every piece of information that passes would probably drive a person crazy. But, when given information that can influence big decisions or perspective, how credibility can influence decisions is definitely something to incorporate into the thought process.

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