Credibility: Does it Matter?

What is credibility and when does it matter?

The first of a series, this articles introduces value of credibility in human relationships.

What is Credibility?

The word “credibility” comes the word, “credo”, which is Latin for “I believe”. Credibility concerns the believability of the source of a source or message.

For example, if a doctor prescribes a certain pill for a particular ailment then she has a measure of credibility as a result of her professional standing. As a result, most people would accept her advice and take the tablets. On the other hand, if the same suggestion from a used car salesman, you would expect most people to taking the advice less seriously: purveyors of used vehicles typically lack credibility when it comes to recommending medicines.

When Does It Matter?

If you have credibility, people believe in you, and will place their trust in you, but if you lack it, they will feel unable to rely on you. For this reason, credibility plays a vital role in both business and personal relationships:

In Business

The ability to establish trust is essential in any kind of business transaction.

  • Business is fundamentally concerned with exchange – of finances, ideas, work etc.
  • Successful exchange requires a measure of trust.
  • Credibility is the basis on which people establish trust.

For this reason:

  • Leaders need it: you have little influence when people don’t trust you.
  • You need  it you want people to take your ideas seriously.
  • If you’re looking for work, you need to have credibility with your prospective employers.
  • …and employers need it to hire staff.
  • You can’t buy anything unless you can persuade others to believe that you have credit.
  • You can’t sell things unless people believe you have something of value to sell.
  • Without credibility, teachers can’t teach, doctors can’t give advice, preachers won’t be given a hearing, bankers won’t be trusted with funds, pilots would not be allowed to fly and so on.
  • Scientists need scientific credibility and journalists need journalistic credibility. Even hip hop musicians need “street cred”.

In Personal Relationships

Believability important personal relationships, too – perhaps more so than in business because you can’t fall back on the legal system when your friends let you down.

For this reason, most people shy away from developing friendships with people that they can’t trust, so if you want friends you need to be credible. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to develop a romantic attachment to someone you can’t believe in, so if you’re looking for love you need to present yourself as someone who can be relied upon.

If you lack credibility in your personal life, people will be unlikely to invest in any kind of relationship with you. When you are perceived as unreliable, people are more likely to want to spend time with you.


Credibility is essential to all human relationships. Without it, both personal and professional life becomes difficult if not impossible. In future articles I plan to explore the topic of credibility more deeply, and to look at some of the most effective ways of establishing credibility.


  • Original image fark. Photographed and modified by Kramii.

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