I’m often told that I am “just like” someone they know, or that I remind others of someone. Although I may feel like less of an individual after these comments, it is important to know that these links are how people remember. By finding likenesses throughout the world, we categorize people, items, etc. in order to understand them better.
If you are trying to describe a grapefruit, you might say, “It is somewhat like an orange, but bigger and more sour.” This lets the other person know that it is probably also a citrus fruit, and they can imagine what an orange is like, but apply the differences. It is a form of borrowed credibility; the same can be done with communication styles.
Frequently used in marketing, borrowed credibility allows one to link to something in order to be associated with the attributes of the other. In advertising, it may be a celebrity endorsement or an “As seen on …” label. If the consumer thinks highly of said celebrity, than the product in question gets seen in a more favourable light.
When you are branding yourself as a communicator, borrowed credibility can help others to understand who you are and what you’re about sooner than they may have without it. Students can use established professors or local professionals to vouch for his or her performance to an employer. In some cases, just the name of the university attended can boost your credibility.
“Oh, James went to Harvard? Well, that means a lot.”
Use what you have to your advantage, but make sure to not rely on the skills of others to further your career. When you land that perfect job and are expected to carry out those skills, others will see you were faking it all along.