5 Mistakes to Avoid to Crush the Credibility Gap

5 Mistakes to Avoid to Crush the Credibility Gap

5 Mistakes to Avoid to Crush the Credibility Gap

If you’ve ever been tricked, fooled or hornswoggled, you too have experienced “the credibility gap”.

I have. 

You may have too.

“For every credibility gap there is a gullibility gap.” – Richard Cobden

It happened when I was a director of a national professional association, something I was good at and truly enjoyed. Another director had twice sidelined* me … very sweetly. To say he was smooooth … is an understatement.

According to Simplicable “Sidelining is a political tactic that involves ignoring, distracting or removing the opposition so that they no longer play an active role in a program, project, initiative, team or function.”

Twice, the guy deftly steered me away from important things.

… and twice I fell for it. 

(then I was on to his game) … Yep, I’d spotted & avoided many-a-sidelining move in my career, but this time, I’d been had. Gullible, to use Cobden’s term. 

The guy was silky smooooooth with feigned concern for me the first time, and puppy-dog helplessness the second. 

The good news is, gullibility isn’t permanent. Time #2 was the last.

I’ll be honest … those two times, they cost me. And they didn’t have to.

In each, I was overtired. Skipped my usual pre-plan, so I wasn’t clear on what role I wanted to play; and what tangible (and intangible) achievements I wanted coming out of the events.

Sound familiar?

What About Those 5 Mistakes to Avoid to Crush the Credibility Gap? 

#1 Know the common traits of groups with which you commonly interact — expand beyond those groups and learn.

Like me, you may never have played high school football. If so, you might find this football story fun & “huh?” — from my favorite Sunday School teacherKathryn Fowler. Consummate librarian and teacher. Always with a good story to illustrate a lesson. 

Here’s one a remember to this day…

When her youngest son made it onto the high school football team, he’d not yet had that growth spurt boys get. As the smallest guy on the team, he was assigned to quarterback. 

He had two jobs: Pass the ball to a runner & avoid getting injured.

Avoiding injury meant as little time as possible with an opposing offensive player running into him, or landing on top of him.

At the start of the season, Kathryn knew they might at some point have to have the town doctor patch him up. But during one game, an offensive player had Robbie pinned to the ground for rather a longer time. 

Turns out, pinning the QB to the ground is a great time to tell said QB — nose-to-nose — just how much he’d like to beat, twist & break the bones of said QB .. not to mention, by the way, just how much he’s gonna be soon be dating his sweetheart. #PowerOver

The quarterback’s job: Breathe and stay calm. Offensive is just trying to be .. offensive. It’ll pass. Breathe and stay calm under pressure. That’s how you win.

Breathe and stay calm under pressure. That’s how you win. He’s just trying to rattle you.

Breathe and stay calm under pressure. That’s how you win.

Breathe and stay calm under pressure. 

That’s how you win a “Power over” attempt.

Stay calm.

The world over, this is common socializing among men and boys.

Fitted to cultural norms. Be aware of it, or it’ll bite you. And anyone can learn it. So stick around!

That’s Step #1 Mistake to AVOID: Avoid Avoid Avoid panic under pressure. Calm determination wins the moment.

And you maybe saying “But I’m SCARED … I’m SCARED … I can’t help it.”
   And guess what? I’ve been there too and I love helping people like you. 

Step #2, Guide others’ thoughts to their nobler selves

Backstory: My dad, the PTSD guy, was at his best when puttering in the garage. When dad was home, he was puttering on the cars … and I was there with him. In his safe space. 

It was good time with dad and got me familiar with engines, drive trains, gear shifts … and the tools that keep ‘em running.

Fast forward to my 20’s … I’d already rebuilt two engines, from the block up. They ran smoothly for years. I didn’t look the type. Still don’t.

That was a marriage and two grown kids ago. No expert, just enough competence in basic diagnostics, removing & replacing parts. It’s not so hard to remove & replace. Not that hard.

Then it’s time for a shower, a soak and a whole lotta lotion —- Ahhhhhhh.

When I’m at the parts store, that preframe is pure gold, starting with “I know I don’t look the part, but these hands have rebuilt two auto engines, from the block up” — and the stress just drains outta their faces … and they start breathing again.

The clerk’s de-stressed; get’s me the parts I need. We’re both off to our respective races.

Fun Fact: In my town, a woman owns the Auto Zone. Auto Zone trains their people well and this owner hires women. They’re good?

Presume the norm & be open to other behaviors.. for better or worse.

The two homeless guys tucked in a corner out of the wind, beside the grocers’.

Guide others’ thoughts to their nobler selves, no matter who they are.

Rounding the corner, I fully admit a feeling of unease upon first sight of them. Thoughts flashed across my mind. I’d not before seen homeless folk in that area before. Would they panhandle me? I hadn’t my usual food to give.

My immediate sense of fear jumped, followed by sadness at just the thought of being homeless. A person unmoored can be scary. And scared. Hungry. Traumatized.

In my town, any town. I’m ever aware the chances of getting out of homelessness are vanishingly small…

In a word, I gave them the very same word-gift as I give with my suit-and-tie wearing friends.



Step #3, Observe & RECORD (write) the Great, the Good, the OK & the Oh-Nos!  

Record what you did (no judging/assessing .. that’s next) and Celebrate! You DID Something! no matter what it is — You Took Action!

Assess .. the change from what you would have done in the past .. what was its effectiveness? What did you Learn? 

 & Improve … for greater greatness the next time! (Yep, greater greatness … it’s a thing.)

Celebrate (& write it down) ANY & ALL that went well?. Make a list. On BIG Paper.  Put sticky notes all over to remind you what went well?  Do the HAPPY DANCE!

Assess (& write it down) … opportunities for better going forward. for better ahead

And just like my suit-and-tie wearing friends, they perked up, stood taller, their energy changed at the word … “gentlemen” … both a compliment and an expectation.

?? Presume people’s social default behaviors
?? … and guide their minds to better

CHEERS & Let me know your thoughts, reflections, experiences!

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