Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reputation's Reputation

Somehow or other, reputation seems to have gotten a bad reputation.

Women, in particular, have been told that they should do as they wish, follow their bliss, act on their desires… and not care what anyone thinks of them.

These days, anyone who tells a young woman to be careful about her reputation will quickly be shouted down.

In a world where everyone is supposed to be seeking the elusive state called mental health, the therapy culture has declared that you can only get there by overcoming repression, overcoming shame and letting it all hang out.

Reputation is for saps, we are told. You cannot let loose with all your deepest feelings and worry what other people think of you.

The truth is, any human relationship will be damaged by being too open and too honest. A good reputation will contribute mightily to your success, both in your personal relationships and on the job.

No one wants to associate with someone who is disreputable, who cannot be trusted and whose word is not his bond.

Thus, it is with tongue firmly in cheek that Alison Green lists some of the best ways to ruin your professional reputation.

Since your professional reputation is one of your most valuable assets, you ought to be working to enhance it. Thus, her advice is well worth heeding. I will right-side it.

I will compress Green’s list, to begin with the most important one: keep your word.

When you say you will do something, do it.

When you say you will do something and it becomes inconvenient to do it, do it.

When you say you will do something and it becomes impossible to do it, do it anyway.

Obviously, there are occasions when it is impossible to keep your word, but you should not be thinking of the exceptions. You should be telling yourself that when you commit, you do it.

If you accept a job offer, you do not have the option of backing out of it.

If your actions should always follow fast upon your words, it is also bad to speak untruths. Lying damages your professional reputation.

If you recommend someone for a job when you know that the person is unqualified, you are lying. When you offer a recommendation, don’t think in terms of doing a favor for a friend. Act as though your reputation is on the line. It is.

And Green points that you must also avoid drama. Despite what the therapy culture has been drumming into your ears, you do better to keep your emotions to yourself.

Green explains:

It's normal to occasionally get frustrated, but you're crossing a line if you're yelling, slamming doors or snapping at people. It only takes one incident like this to get a reputation as the angry guy with whom no one wants to work, and that's a label that's very hard to shake.

Obviously, the same applies to emails. Do not, Green says, use email to express your feelings openly and honestly:

Whether it's jotting off an angry response to a new policy at work or sending a bitter reply after you get rejected for a job, angry letter bombs are hard to live down. You'll look like someone who doesn't know how to address concerns calmly and professionally, and most people will respond by giving you a wide berth.


Sam L. said...

Facebook: Where you can kill your reputation in a second. Or someone else with a camera can.

Anonymous said...

Of course it doesn't matter what people think of you... until it does.

The great lie is, and always will be, that you can get something for nothing. No cost, no consequences. Good luck with that.

I think sometimes people forget the glowing box is all about drama. What your eyes consume for hours on end is what you will become. Actors and actresses play characters other people (called writers) create. It's a con job, not reality. It's entertainment, not something to base your life off of. I have strong doubts about whether Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are happy people . They're human train wrecks living purely emotive lives. At least that's the stuff the tabloids cover, which impacts... you guessed it: reputation.

Your reputation is the stories others have of you, not the ones you have of you. It has nothing to do with you. We are social creatures, not hermits. A reputation is social feedback. It's real. Check around. It's there.


Jim said...

Stuart, I would make an exception for reversing an acceptance of a job offer. Unless the offer involved is an employment contract that has been signed, the candidate can reverse his/her acceptance and even quit the job after starting. In the business world, most employment relationships are "employment at will" which means either party can terminate or quit for any reason. It works both ways and employers understand this. Reversing an offer acceptance happens very frequently and is considered an acceptable practice in the business world. It is certainly legal and all players are well aware of the rules.