We’re not always fully aware that we’re compromising our name, reputation and professional and personal well-being.
Even when facts, truth and reality are eventually communicated to us verbally or with consequences and punishment and the negative impact is settling in, we still may not comprehend specifically what is happening and how to stem the tide and protect, restore or reconstruct our reputation.
That is an unwanted and dangerous place to find oneself or one’s organization. From mistakes to egregious errors, being between a rock and a hard place is stressful and often escalated to anxiety.
Some individuals and organizations, without poise or effective stress management, compound the misery with poor, reactive behavior such as deciding on a cover up, lashing out or “turtling,” -- going into hiding; all fear-driven reactions.
We might falsely believe we’re naturally protecting our reputation when our behavior dictates otherwise. We give into negative attitudes, hurtful communication and selfish decision making and somehow either not think we’re doing wrong or more commonly, rationalize it. This doesn’t build reputation quality. It leads to further decay or destruction.
It’s possible to be well intentioned and still suffer reputation decline in the minds of other people because we’re not recognizing how we’re being received or the harmful impact others are experiencing due to us.
Restoring reputation has to start with 1) the awareness that pursuing it is wise 2) the understanding of what is required to succeed and 3) the willingness and commitment to do what is necessary (and persevere) until the goal is achieved.
These are big “asks” and tasks. You’d be surprised how many people fall short and grade poorly on one or more of these points, preventing full or even partial restoration or reconstruction of reputation. Thus, the consequences and pain experienced should not be surprising, as they are the easily become the most likely outcomes.
For restoration to be successful, a person or organization must gain accuracy of understanding of what has happened, not from their own perspective, but in the minds of people who are negatively impacted.
This requires a conscious decision -- a commitment to learn -- the poise to listen patiently and closely, suppress one’s ego, say ‘no’ to any false judgment about others you might feel, demand of yourself a positive attitude about learning and improvement and resist high-risk impulses to react poorly.
These are all critical ingredients to restore reputation, regardless of how undesirable those tasks and responsibilities might be emotionally to do.
If one is bad mouthing that strategy to themselves or to others that are suggesting or recommending it, they have already lost the battle and are stuck in an ego storm and amygdala hijacking. Forget significant, often critical improvement, at least lasting improvement.
Reputation reconstruction is the next level requirement in the most damaging of situations and crisis management. It’s work that starts resilience and recovery with foundation work.
First, it’s necessary to conduct a self examination of the errors (all of them) that someone has made. It’s also necessary to commit to learning, with humility and honesty, why those errors happened, what we did to contribute to them. It’s beneficial to study and learn how specifically that thinking, decision making and unwise, damaging behavior could have been prevented.
No rationalization or displacing blame can be allowed if learning and reversing course is to take place.
Moving beyond the self examination, it can prove helpful to seek assistance from a professional for greater effectiveness in problem solving damaged reputation.
A thoughtful, wise response requires poise, empathy, courage, listening skillfully, acting with compassion and doing the hard, often unsettling work to persevere through the process and prove strong enough to humbly, consistently take some hits -- emotional, reputation -- personal and professional -- and financial. It will not be easy.
Yet it will prove worth it. This is why the establishing accuracy and clarity of the big picture -- and always keeping it front and center in one’s mind is critical to emotional stability, focus, patience, progress, setbacks, more patience, endurance, resiliency and success.
It can prove to be a long process. Yet that path, uncomfortable and painful to the ego, works for reconstruction for significant reputation damage within a dispute, ongoing conflict or crisis.
It can be helpful to casually or more deeply study those in history or the news befallen by reputation troubles who never recovered, only partially recovered or fully did so (without lingering negative publicity) and answer honestly -- what did they do and not do to be in the place they are now?
What wise decisions and actions were taken and accomplished? What selfish decisions and actions were taken and what consequences and punishment are still being felt?
If this is done and honestly so, one can learn that some damage (individuals and organizations) proves fatal to name, reputation and professional and well-being. Great loss to credibility, trust, opportunity, finances and intangible benefits occurs.
Remember, in a white-hot conflict or crisis, damage doesn’t stop at the shock, anger, resentment and distrust. It continues as long as the reaction or response is poor and until high character is shown in words and actions.
Studying will reveal that some people and organizations do bounce back -- usually only by traveling the honorable, long, hard, stressful, frustrating and maybe angry, anxiety producing or depressing path.
Confusion is common and so is a lack of poise and humility. An unwillingness to learn and meet cultural expectations almost always proves to be an impediment to protecting, restoring and reconstructing reputation.
However, there are people who overcome terrible reputation experiences, proving resilient. They show it’s not only possible but likely when high character, courage, patience, compassion and sustained effort are exhibited.
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