Have you ever seen a kid telling his sibling what to do? No matter how urgent the scolder is, the scoldee rarely listens (unless a parent steps in and delivers the same advice). That’s because parents have credibility siblings don’t. If you expect people to listen to you, you have to have credibility. Otherwise, they’ll receive what you have to say with a “take it or leave it” mindset at best, and at worst a “leave me alone!” attitude.
To get a sense of how you’re doing with those you’re trying to coach, rate your impressions of what they think of you on this scale:
10—“I can’t get enough of your time. I know you make me better, so…can we meet again?”
5—“It’s not a waste of my time to meet with you. I have a lot going on, but I’ll try to fit you in.”
1—“Every moment I spend with you, you’re costing me money. Thanks but no thanks.”
Think of the rating you gave yourself as your GPA. If you’re not getting perfect straight As, can-didly assess what in the following areas you can do better. Improve in each area of deficiency and watch your GPA climb!
1. Capitalize on What You Have in Common
If you come across as really detached and don’t seem to have anything in common with those you’re training, you’re giving them an easy excuse to write off your coaching. When things get hard, they’ll say “that might’ve worked for you, but my situation is different.” Show them where you came from, and relate your experience to theirs.
2. Develop/Document Experience in an Area That Can Benefit Them
Are there any “holes” in your experience? You won’t always have the chance to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, but if you see that people are consistently turning down your counsel in a certain area, look for opportunities to build experience in that area. Also look for connections between what you have done and where they’re stuck.
3. Build World-Class Knowledge in Your Field
Leaders are readers. Get to know as much as you can to develop expertise—books, ideas, quotes, things you haven’t seen everyone else teaching. I became the head of sales training for a homebuilder pretty early in my career. I’d only sold for a few years, and felt nervous that people with a lot more experience wouldn’t see me as credible. Here’s what I had going for me: I read until my eyes bled. I felt like I knew more about my subject matter than just about any-one. Do your homework and you’ll rise to the top of your class.
4. Be Passionate
It’s important to know your stuff, but without passion you won’t be able to generate enthusi-asm in others. I once shared an idea with a team I was training and had the top salesperson in the company tell me he thought it was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard, but because of my passion, he was willing to give it a try. (He came back later and told me that it worked. I’m now a 10 in his book.)
Don’t be quick to write off those who would rate you a 1. Make it a personal challenge to turn your 1s into 5s, and then into 10s. After all, do you want anyone saying you’re wasting their time? Look at low ratings as your problem—not theirs—and really consider what you’re willing to do to turn it around. You’ll know you’re earning a passing grade with someone when you don’t have to sugarcoat the directions you give them—they trust you and will do what you say because you’ve given them good reasons to believe in you. Credibility takes time to develop. Just as a know-it-all sibling doesn't acquire the authority of a parent overnight, you won't in-stantly earn the trust of those you're coaching. Follow these steps, though, and watch your "credibility GPA" rise as you climb to the top of the class.