How to Boost Your Credibility: Avoid These 3 Common Phrases (With Video)

December 3, 2018

Be seen as credible and increase your credibility by avoiding these traps.

Being seen as credible is an underrated yet critical part of advancing your career.

Credibility means that people can trust you. And, if people trust you, they are much more likely to listen you, promote you and/or buy something from you.

And yet there are a few common phrases that can actually undercut your credibility. In her LinkedIn Learning course Building Trust, Instructor Brenda Bailey-Hughes explains what those common phrases are – and why you shouldn't say them.

3 Common Phrases That Can Actually Undercut Your Credibility

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Brenda Bailey-Hughes lists common phrases that can actually undercut your credibility.

They are, according to Bailey-Hughes:

    1. Hedges

Hedges come at the start of a sentence. Two examples: starting sentences with “in my opinion” or “my best guess is.”

“That hedge casts doubt on your knowledge,” Bailey-Hughes said.

Cut those out. Rather than saying, “in my opinion, the budget is adequate," just say “the budget is adequate” (besides, if you are saying it, it’s obviously your opinion). 

    2. Tag Questions

Tag questions are similar to hedges, except they are said at the end of a sentence, instead of at the beginning.

A classic example – saying “you know?” at the end of a sentence. As in, “that happens everywhere, you know?”. 

“Ridding yourself of hedges and tag questions will increase how competent others see you,” Bailey-Hughes said.

Why? Because both hedges and tag questions make you appear less sure of what you are trying to say. That opens the door for people to question if it's really true – even when it is.

    3. Exaggerations and Generalities

Don’t say something is “astronomically” expensive or fall back on generic, generalized speaking. This type of imprecise language is really just a substitute for specific evidence – and citing specific evidence is the best way to look credible.

For example, if someone asks you to do something, and you reply that is either “cost prohibitive” or that “that doesn't seem doable” — that’s a bit vague. But instead, if you were to say “they quoted us at $5 million to do that” or “(a similar business unit) just tried the same thing and it actually cost them customers” — that’s much more informative.

And that'll help you come across as much more credible.

In her course, Bailey-Hughes gives an example of this. Say you are reporting back to your boss about a new feature you just helped release. Which one sounds better?

  • "Our customers love our new feature!" 
  • We surveyed 500 new customers about the new feature, and 85% said they saw immediate ROI from it."

Obviously, the second, and answers like that will make you appear more credible. In it, you avoid generalizations and exaggerations, and instead give specific evidence to back up your point.

So remember, moving forward, the more specific you can be and the more you can cite case studies and personal experience, the more credible you’ll come across.

Want to learn more? Watch Bailey-Hughes full LinkedIn Learning course, Building Trust.

Other topics within her course include: