When I was still practicing law, I worked on a highly contentious trial on behalf of a Hollywood producer. This trial was unlike anything I had seen before. In true Hollywood form, every day was full of drama and theatrics, twists and turns, lies and deceit.
One of my favorite things about the experience was our trial judge, who was clearly accustomed to this sort of thing, being a long-time sitting judge in Los Angeles County. He kept his composure and order in the court while the parties attempted to put on a saga of epic proportions.
The judge had a few one-liners he would say again and again to keep the parties in line. My favorite, and one that I’ve carried with me for years, has to do with a witness’s affinity for telling the truth. “The credibility of a witness is always relevant,” he would say. In other words, whether the witnesses were truthful was central to the trial, no matter who the witness was or what their role was in the larger case.
When we are speaking with others, whether in on-one-one conversation, on camera, or in front of a live audience, the same principle applies. Our credibility is always relevant. Our truthfulness, candor, sincerity, and reliability always matter. If we want to build a tribe, if want to build a sustainable tribe, anyway, we will offer up our credibility every time, wholly in tact and with full awareness of its import.
To establish credibility:
- Speak honestly and openly – avoid exaggeration or hyperbole as, over time, this chips away at our credibility;
- Speak authoritatively on the topic you are discussing or presenting; and
- Always do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it – no exceptions.