IF YOU work for a major company with a strong brand, you will appear credible to anyone who sees the logo on your business card. You gain credibility simply by being associated with a respected company.

Even with this advantage, however, you must appear authentic and believable if you wish to gain the trust and confidence of others.

The following tips can help you enhance your credibility:

* Look the part. Wear clothes and carry accessories appropriate for your position or purpose. In business, the wrong attire will cost you points.

For most people, this means dressing a bit above your station, carrying a nice pen, wearing good leather shoes and using a quality wallet, card holder or handbag.

Good grooming and hygiene are essential. While the guidelines for hairstyles, jewellery, tattoos and other adornment have relaxed in recent years, some things will never change. Skin, clothes, hair, teeth and fingernails must be clean. And you must still smell nice or, at least, not smell bad.

However, if you are a gardener, plumber or car mechanic, a sweaty shirt and a bit of dirt under the fingernails look authentic and add credibility. Would you trust your car’s transmission to a man with soft, clean hands?

Looking great is important, but looking the part is critical.

* Be congruent. Your body language must be consistent with your words and tone. When your body language is consistent with your spoken language, there is congruence, and the body language reinforces your spoken message.

However, if your body language appears inconsistent with your words, your words will be suspect.

* Be consistent. Your actions must also be consistent over time. People must know who you are and what you stand for — always.

* Tell the truth. At all times. Once you have been caught in a lie, your credibility is in jeopardy.

Your reputation for honesty is easy to lose and extremely difficult to restore, so guard it carefully.

* Tell only what your audience is likely to believe, and no more. Most people understand that when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Some things sound too good to be true even though they are true. So make sure your claims are true, but also believable. Do not oversell.

Tell your audience about the disadvantages or shortcomings of your product, service or idea as well as the advantages. This makes you more believable.

If you do not mention the negatives and your customers find out about them later, they will wonder what else you are trying to hide.

* If you have something to gain, be upfront about it. People will usually assume you are guided by self-interest, and they accept this as normal. They do not mind if you benefit, provided they benefit as well.

Being honest about what you stand to gain gives them one more reason to believe you and one less reason to doubt you.

* Confront problems directly. When you avoid difficult matters or certain persons, others will notice. They may conclude that you lack confidence in yourself or your position. But problems will not go away by themselves. If you confront problems directly, others will see that you mean business and respect you.

* Show what you mean. Don’t just tell others, show them. Prove it.

A live demonstration is the most convincing way, but videos, pictures, charts, graphs and figures are also effective. Seeing is believing.

At the very least, put it in writing. People have more confidence in the written word than in the spoken word. The written word is a powerful tool. Use it.

* Use precise numbers. Round numbers appear artificial and arbitrary. If you are selling a product for $100, customers will think the number was chosen for convenience and is not a true reflection of the item’s value. They may even ask for a discount.

But if the price is $99.35 or $103.84, they may assume the price was calculated based on a precise and rational formula and is not negotiable.

* Use testimonials. A strong testimonial is a powerful way to gain credibility. Good testimonials can come from a recognised expert, a public figure or someone your audience knows and trusts.

* Never promise more than you can deliver, and always deliver more than you promise. You have surely encountered someone in your life who habitually made promises without keeping them.

This person raised your hopes and let you down. After a few disappointments, you lost confidence in him. Don’t do that to others. When dealing with others, credibility counts!