Trust is a major requirement in business, and in relationships in general. Without credibility, most people won't buy from you, invest with you, contract you, or, in some cases, even work with you. For the most part, people are very trusting until you break their trust enough times to lose your credibility. Then it's hard to turn it around. Even forgiving people will maintain doubt in their minds as to whether or not they should put any faith in what you say or what you will do.

Really credible people know that their honor and reputation are worth preserving. They go to great lengths to protect their credibility and maintain trust with those around them. They make sure that they never do any of the following things, since it only takes one mistake to shatter the credibility they have earned.

1. They don't leave you hanging.

I have seen a variety of contact management styles among successful people. Some follow up faster or more consistently than others. But the people who really care about their reputation make sure that every issue is addressed in some manner and almost never leave engagements open ended.

2. They don't lie just to be nice.

It's hard sometimes to tell people the truth about their performance or a pet project. But the truth usually comes to the surface anyway, and those who gave false praise to avoid conflict end up exposed for the liars they are. Really credible people find it in their soul to express themselves honestly, even when it hurts. They do it kindly and with real concern.

3. They don't overpromise.

So many people believe that optimism is a wonderful quality. But optimism can easily get in the way of reality. People like to think that everything will go right, even when they haven't considered the actual risks and challenges of a situation. Really credible people are true pragmatists. They do their homework and give their best estimates based upon their research. They manage expectations along the way, so that the only surprises are good ones.

4. They don't speak in absolutes.

People who often use the words all, every, always, never, nothing, no one, and everyone when espousing facts or theories often set themselves up to look ridiculous. Very few things in life are absolute, especially when it comes to human behavior or opinions. Really credible people qualify their statements to account for anomalies and rarities by using terms like some, most, almost, nearly, often, usually, might, and may. These words allow accuracy to exist over hyperbole.

5. They don't talk without listening.

People can tell when you are listening. In fact, most people look for it because what they are saying is so important in their own mind and they want to feel heard. So when someone talks a lot right from the start, they know there is little two-way communication happening. Really credible people want to listen before they speak. They want to understand the people and attitudes in the room before they open their mouth. They prefer to assess all the points of view before sharing their insights.

6. They don't always say yes.

Some people can't help themselves. They jump into every opportunity regardless of how busy they are. Soon, they are overloaded and leave messes for others to clean up. Really credible people know they have a limited amount of time and energy they can dedicate and still perform at peak. They preserve those resources for opportunities truly worth their while.