TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Guaranteed Ways to Kill Your Credibility

Frustrated businessman sitting at desk with head in hands
Paul Bradbury—Getty Images/OJO Images

These common mistakes make others wonder whether you're worthy of their attention


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Your ability to influence others is directly dependent upon how credible you seem. If meeting attendees don’t perceive you as intelligent, competent and trustworthy, they’ll want to do business with somebody else.

With that in mind, here are nine common meeting-room behaviors to avoid:

1. Phrases that imply deception.

Beginning a statement with “In all honesty,” “Honestly,” or “To be honest,” it implies that up until that point, you’ve been lying

2. Words that sound sales-y.

Most people don’t trust salespeople (wrongly, in my view) so using words like “guarantee,” “discount,” and even “solution” makes you seem less trustworthy.

3. Excessive corporate-speak.

The occasional use of words like “leverage,” “impact,” and “reach out” is no big deal but it sounds ridiculous when every sentence is splattered with biz-blab.

4. Overuse of acronyms.

Acronyms are OK as shorthand, but if you use them too much, people get lost in the alphabet soup and start wondering if you actually know what you’re talking about.

5. Non-commitments.

Phrases like “I’ll try” or “I’ll see what I can do” make you appear unsure of your own ability to deliver. Either commit or don’t commit; there is no “try.”

6. Riffing.

When you admit ignorance, your credibility may suffer, but not nearly so much as when your improvised answers are revealed as a huge pile of BS.

7. Inappropriate humor.

A little light humor never hurt anyone, but any “joke” that references race, sex, gender, politics or religion is best left unsaid.

8. Repeatedly interrupting.

It makes you look both insecure AND disrespectful when you keep inserting yourself when someone else is speaking. The absolute worst: finishing other people’s sentences.

9. Failure to take responsibility.

Mistakes don’t help your credibility but trying to fix blame elsewhere is far worse. It’s always smarter to ‘fess up than finger-point.

Read more from Inc.com:

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

14 Tactics for Reading People’s Body Language

The One Trait That Guarantees a Good Hire

7 Things You Can Do on Friday to Make Monday Awesome

Sheryl Sandberg and the Hypocrisy of Lean In

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