SALES

3 Words That Create Instant Credibility

Being a know-it-all is a great way to make people question your common sense.
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When it comes to credibility-building, the three most powerful words in the English language are: "I don't know."

Many salespeople and most managers think that they'll lose credibility if they admit ignorance, especially about something about which they "ought" to know. However, the exact opposite is the case.

Admitting ignorance makes everything else you say more credible. Admitting ignorance marks you as a person who's not afraid to speak the truth, even when that truth might reflect poorly on you.

Needless to say, the "I don't know" should be followed by a plan to discover the information that's required, if the issue is truly important. And you WILL be judged on whether you deliver on that promise.

But here's the thing: people dislike a know-it-all. They can often sense, at a gut level, when they're being BSed. Even if they're taken in, when they find out (as usually happens) that they've been BSed, they never trust the BSer again.

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IMAGE: jcolivera/Flickr
Last updated: Mar 7, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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