Friday, August 01, 2008

Credibility

Credibility is an interesting word for three reasons; 1) because it is quickly becoming a lost trait, 2) it contains both subjective and objective components, and 3) credibility is composed of two dimensions, trustworthiness and expertise. Personally I am more interested in areas 2 and 3 of the word because part of the reason credibility is on the decline is for the simple fact that people don’t know what it actually means to become credible.

Subjective credibility comes from the dimension of trustworthiness, meaning that it is based on opinion not fact and is a perception of trust one has in another. This is the type of credibility people act on today and is the primary reason that credibility is on the decline. We are surrounded by so called credible institutions and people who have made millions if not billions on those who put their trust in empty promises only to eventually lose everything. Our view of who is credible comes from our inability to take the time necessary to form the trusting bond necessary to fulfill our needs. Instead we look at certificates and diplomas as a fast track to whom or what is trustworthy or credible, and base our trust in a piece of paper, not a person. In our quest for quick and easy results, we base our decisions on presentation and not substance, therefore making ourselves susceptible to conmen and thieves who over promise and under deliver.

Objective credibility comes from the dimension of expertise, meaning that it is based on facts that are free of bias. This is the type of credibility that is found in someone who has a proven track record delivering on the promises that they have made to others throughout time. The salvation of credibility lies in its objective state; only people are too “busy” to take the time to research someone’s expertise to see if it is true. Conmen and thieves have expertise in being conmen and thieves, which a bit of research will eventually show. Objective credibility does have its dangers though. Just because someone has a proven track record doesn’t mean that they are on the up and up, which is why the complexity of the word credibility intrigues me.

Having two components on two dimensions means that in order to find the credibility of something or someone we must look in two components on both dimensions. Both trustworthiness and expertise have objective and subjective pieces to them, but their main characteristic is dominant. If we just rely on the dominant characteristic then we are not looking at the whole picture. If we seek to become credible and only work on one dimension, then we are leaving out a piece that will allow others to believe in us. If we seek to find the truth then we must look objectively and subjectively in both trustworthiness and expertise otherwise we are no different than the conman or thief that is praying on finding the person who doesn’t have the ability to think in more than one dimension.

In order to bring back true credibility we have to be able to internally and externally sort out one dimensional thinkers, even when those thinkers have the same ideals as ourselves. Credibility is a lost trait because we no longer look for the truth, we just look for someone who will either give us what we want/need, or we look for someone who will agree with what we believe in. The process of immediate satisfaction does not promote credibility, it promotes victimization to those who are unwilling to seek truth and accept that expertise equals trust or that trust equals expertise. There is no immediate in credibility and there is no credibility without both objective and subjective trust and expertise.

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