CREDIBILITY cannot be bought - it can only be earned. Credibility means ensuring that others find you believable, honourable, dependable and trustworthy. It means you will achieve and deserve respect.

Interact with others confidently, sincerely and respectfully, and deal with people pro-actively.

Take appropriate actions to match your words and good intentions.

Here are five actions you can easily incorporate into your daily work practices that will help you build confidence and credibility:

1. Show some emotion

Show enthusiasm and passion for what you do in whatever way is appropriate for you. You don't have to be bubbly all the time, but put some feeling into all your exchanges, and be aware of the tone of your voice.

This is especially important on the telephone because so much energy can be lost over telephone lines. In particular, aim to speak in a strong, steady voice, and take a few breaths in between talking.

It is thought that slowing down and lowering the tone of your voice increases confidence and control in a conversation, and adds to your credibility.

If you communicate without emotion, you will come across as bland and lifeless. People will not want to listen to you, and they will not believe in you.

One word of caution: Don't try too hard, as you can come across as false and insincere, and turn people off instead!

2. Follow through

People want to know they can count on you, and that you will actually do what you say you will. So if you say you will call someone back within half an hour, call him! Even if you haven't got the answers needed at that point, make the call anyway and explain what's happening.

Take every step to try to do what you promised. People will appreciate this, and your credibility will go up another notch. Consistently match your actions with your words.

3. Listen first, then act

You will not inspire confidence from others if you jump to conclusions, fly off the handle, or react before you have gathered all the facts.

This will only give others the impression that you aren't capable of listening and thinking logically. It will also make you feel a bit foolish when the correct facts come to light later and you realise you didn't listen carefully in the first place.

People want to be heard. They don't like being cut off or interrupted. By exercising a little patience and really listening to what the other person is saying, you will fully understand the situation. Then you can then speak and act with confidence and good judgement.

4. Stay calm

Stress is unavoidable in any business, but you need to learn how to deal with stress. People need to know you are approachable and that you will listen to them and help them no matter how much work you have.

By staying calm under pressure, you will improve your ability to listen effectively and communicate constructively.

5. Be straightforward

This means being clear, honest and to the point. Be focused on the issue, keep your language simple and clear and ensure that no reading between the lines is necessary.

Remember the importance of empathy - put yourself in the other person's place and care about how he or she feels!

Being clear and respectful and empathetic in all your exchanges will earn you respect. And when you do it consistently, you will earn credibility.