A quote by David H. Comins reads, “People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first.”
Humorous, yes. And profound! Although I believe Mr. Comins was pointing out the universal respect people have to this day for the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, his quote leads us to another point just as significant; the importance of “Third-party credibility.”
The term itself has several generally-accepted meanings, two of the most well-known being:
- Your credibility in the mind of your prospect based on the recommendation of someone he or she already deems credible.
- The credibility you attain from others due to crediting another person with the information you are sharing.
It’s the second of the two definitions we will focus on in this article.
A very strange fact of life (though not totally when digging deep into the issue) is that the closer you are to someone emotionally, the less believable you are in most other areas. On the other hand, the farther away emotionally, the more believable you are. Thus, when you phrase your wisdom, opinion, instruction as having come from someone else (a third party), the person with whom you are sharing this information is much more likely to accept it as true and believable.
While this would seem to defy logic, it is absolutely true. And, those who are humble enough to not care who gets the credit — and will consistently utilize this basic principle of human interaction — will find his or her persuasive abilities to hit new heights of effectiveness.
Third-Party Credibility is based on the human tendency to value the opinion/expertise of someone outside their circle of influence more than someone within (i.e. an outsider must know something we don’t).
Example: Assuming some advice your children hear is the exact same, are they more likely to believe and accept it from you or from the parent of their friend? From you, or from a teacher? From you, or even some other adult that they have just recently met? Most parents laugh knowingly when answering this question.
Have you ever heard the saying, “In order to be thought of as an expert you must be from 50 miles out of town and carrying a briefcase?”
If so, then you are familiar with the concept of third-party credibility. The key is to allow yourself to credit the wisdom, advice, instruction, etc. to someone else. The person you are trying to persuade will much more likely believe what you are saying, and you’ll all be happy.
The paradox is that by always giving away the credit (whether or not it’s to Ben Franklin), you’ll eventually be given even more credit.
Have you found the above-thoughts regarding third-party credibility to be true? Feel free to share any stories with us from your own personal experiences.