I know, it makes no sense, hang with me. Think about a two or three people you know that have very low credibility in your eyes or in the eyes of others who know them. Let’s call this group A. I am sure you can think of many blunders or at least one big blunder that led you to dislike them or at least question their credibility. Chances are they have made some poor choices over time and done some things to damage people’s perception of them.
Now think of a few people you do trust, who are generally held in high esteem by most, including yourself. You trust these people and believe in their ability to do the right thing based on their reputation and your experience with them. Let’s call this group B. You may conclude that the difference between these groups would be the number and seriousness of blunders accumulated over time. After all, we are probably tempted to point out fault with the people in group A more quickly, aren’t we? Let’s put that on hold for a minute.
In the financial world, the word “credit” is used to refer to how reliable someone is to be trusted to pay back a loan or debt. When a person makes purchases that they are not able to pay for or take responsibility for, their credit rating goes down based on a complicated formula that smart people came up with.
In the legal world, a “credible” witness is someone who can be counted on to tell the truth under oath. A credible witness has a history of telling the truth. The opposing attorney will often try to “discredit” the witness in order to show they cannot be trusted with responsible testimony.
We all fall short
One thing that both groups A and B have in common that I believe goes largely overlooked is that all of the people have unquestionably lived a life of many blunders and mistakes. They all have made many foolish choices that have hurt others. We all have. No doubt some people are less responsible than others, but we have all fallen short no matter what group we fall into.
Why is it that we tend to remember the blunders coming from the people in group A more easily than group B?
I am not a genius when it comes to banking and finances, but I know that advisors will tell you that it is good to use a credit card verses cash if you wish to build up credit (assuming you can pay if off as you go). I think the idea is to build up a track record of being responsible with a debt you owe. The more you borrow and pay back the more others will be willing to loan to you. You are building trust and credibility.
Now let’s take a deeper look into group A. If their credibility is low, chances are it has taken a hit because of their history of not being responsible for outstanding debts(wrong doing) they have acquired or because of their blunders that go unclaimed.
Some people view mistakes or blunders as horrible acts or events that define them and make a statement about their personal worth or value. When their mistake is pinned on them they take it very personally and their self-esteem takes a hit. They will do most anything to avoid it.
Others, like those in group B, when they make a mistake, look at it as a learning experience and consider them necessary bumps along the road to success and growth.
We have a choice
When we make a mistake (selfish or unselfish), we have a choice of what we are going to do with that mistake. A person in group A may tend to choose to deny responsibility, blame someone else, or run away because of their fear, or distorted perspective on what blame says about them.
A person from group B may worry very little about what blame says about them and be quick to accept responsibility for their blunder. They realize that everyone makes mistakes and it is unrealistic to expect otherwise. When they make a mistake it puts an extra burden on someone else. They know they need to take full responsibility for their mistake because they owe it to others they have hurt. They understand grace normally accompanies confessing fault and they understand that any relationship, if expected to be strong, will occasionally require reconciliation (a topic for another time).
The person who runs from blame values their own “blamelessness” over relational honesty. They tend to have a wounded heart that needs to heal before they can accept responsibility for their mistakes.
The person who runs from blame values their own “blamelessness” over relational honesty.
Two of the most powerful statements any person can make are “It’s my fault” and “I am sorry”. These are the responsible way of saying I owe it to you to make up for my mistake and I own it. They are the words that lead to credibility. They are music to people’s ears when they may otherwise hold a grudge if they don’t hear these words. It’s much more difficult to forgive a person who doesn’t fess up.
Much like a person who borrows and can be trusted to pay back their debt time after time is a person who can be trusted to take responsibility for their mistakes and blunders even when it happens time after time. The more blunders you take responsibility for, the more credibility you will gain.
You will never know the depth of how much you can trust someone until you see how they handle it after they have hurt someone.
Some people are defined by their mistakes in their own eyes, but it is how they respond to their mistakes that will define them in everyone else’s eyes.