Here's a topic that's worth a book … or at least a whole chapter in a behavioral self-help volume. But time is money and no one's paying here, so I'll try to spare us too many of the embellishments and get down to the basics.
Context example in the military/intell community
Long ago and far away, a young intelligence analyst in the field was slaving away at collating and analyzing info collected from all available sources for the weekly general staff briefing. The Warsaw Pact forces across the border were in a definite upswing in exercise activity (which always had an NBC focus). This particular point in time found an unusual massing of East German, Czech, and Russian tank and motorized rifle divisions within several clicks of the border with West Germany. Soviet missile forces were also geared up and hauling their missiles to and fro’ in the countryside. The young analyst sensed that this might be something truly out of the ordinary, given some of his superiors’ obviously increased tension. This was soon confirmed when the Intel Center's full-bird commander took it upon himself to calmly commit his opinion to the general staff that this was the real deal coming down the autobahn … that the proverbial balloon was poised to launch. Interestingly, the general staff seemed concerned, but not at all panicked like a few of their underlings. Nonetheless, they reacted by placing their divisions on an elevated alert status.
The young analyst, through the process of regularly changing his shorts, learned much that week about the games played by the superpowers during the Cold War.
But most enduring of all was the lesson delivered on credibility--how important it is to have it when you need it, and how easily it can be frittered away. The aforementioned full-bird held the respect of the generals and they followed his advice, taking steps to increase defensive preparations for West Germany in case the colonel was right.
Obviously, though, he was wrong. And shortly thereafter, the colonel retired to his spread in Virginia. Be assured … no tears were shed. The colonel was aged beyond his years and had performed his duties well through his accomplished career. In the end, he took responsibility for a move that he felt someone had to make. He had the stuff it took to make things happen, and people would listen to him, so he made the call. Yes, it unfairly cost him some small measure of his accumulated credibility with the general staff, and perhaps hastened the end of his career somewhat, but what good is credibility when you don’t use it when needed?
Or worse yet, what good are you if you don't have any credibility built up to draw from when you come to that point in time when you need people to listen?
Why is YOUR credibility important as a prepper?
OK, so the fate of the free world does not depend on your reading of the signs. And we can all be thankful for that. ;) But by golly, if you have friends and family whom you’d like to be able to influence, either now or later, then your credibility is key. Do you have it with them now? Will they listen and trust you when it's most important that they do? For some of them, the best gift you could give may be reason to respect what you have to tell them.
If your credibility with those closest to you is shot or could use improvement, don’t despair. You’re in the company of thousands of other preppers who could use a credibility boost. It comes with the territory … just like it does in the intelligence business. The good news is that, what you do from this moment forward can serve to begin repairing and managing that credibility so that it’s there when you decide you really, really need it.
If you build it they will come
Credibility is people measuring how deserving you are of their confidence … how capable you are of being believed.
In other words, it's about how you present yourself and your opinions. Yes, you are responsible for how others view you. Take responsibility for it and work on it and you might be surprised at how persuasive you can be with those around you.
Nine real-world tips
... many readily apparent, and maybe a few that aren't for some …
1. Don’t lie. Don’t exaggerate. It will be noted and remembered.
2. Manage your emotions. Even when feeling stressed and feeling an urgency about a situation, stay calm and present your point of view rationally and as matter-of-factly as possible. Don’t be drawn into emotional arguments.
3. Cultivate the belief within yourself that the world is open to many interpretations and outcomes. Respect that and then gracefully grant the right for others to disagree with you.
4. Restrict yourself to sharing info and views that fall within the realm of conventional wisdom. Few “trailblazers” or “out of the box thinkers” ever score credibility points for sharing unconventional thought processes, and those that do often are credited for those points only long after they are dead.
5. Do not “invest in” or commit yourself to any one outcome or analysis. More often than not, it will be wrong. Always couch your presentations in terms like “possible,” “potential for,” “something to consider,” etc.
6a. Present even “important facts” as being interesting to consider, but not critical to embrace, even when you might think otherwise.
6b. Present your analyses/forecasts as being a possible read or outcome; not the only read or outcome.
7. Admit your humanity. When the facts change, openly adjust your thinking.
8. Don't take yourself too seriously. Confidently exhibit a sense of humor about your perspectives.
9. Assume a wise and stoic personna, even when others are expressing views counter to your own. Choose very carefully your opportunities for getting across the most important points. “Evangelists” rarely are seen as credible by most people.
The old-fashioned way
Respect and credibility are closely related … they are both earned with discipline and commitment. You can get by without it, but be aware that you'll be traveling alone.