Buffet said and it is true: "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five minutes to ruin it". Think about that! Reputation loss affects more than just money and it can linger on longer than you earlier envisaged. When your reputation is ruined, you need to come to terms that a quick fix is not the solution at all.
You need to brace yourself for a long haul strategy to rectify the situation. A ruined reputation has repercussions that differ from one person to another and also from one entity to another. What I have found out though is that loss of reputation is not something that anyone is immune to.
That is why we need to learn how to manage our reputation. We shall write about that in the upcoming articles. For now, we need to find out what exactly we can do when our reputation is soiled. In the previous article, we saw how important it is to be radically transparent with ourselves. When your reputation is ruined, the very first thing that you ought to do is to acknowledge your wrong about it.
Acknowledging your Mess
That acknowledgement will go a long way in helping people see the following things about what you will do to rectify it:
- Your acknowledgement of the mess: This stops the negative tide against you
- Your owning up of the mess: This earns you forgiveness
- Your promise to never mess again: This earns you a psychological new start and a contract with people
- Your commitment to pay the price: This brings you back some clout that was lost
- Your plan to rectify the mess: This gives you a direction that you can take
- The perpetual management of your clout henceforth: This recoups your reputation and even promises to make it better than it ever was.
First Things First
I believe that the way you handle a reputation that is soiled has to be sensitive to what you do first. Failure to acknowledge and to own, you fail to get to move to the next step of recovery. However, once you have acknowledged, then you have opened the door for a solution to be provided. You have created a pathway for the reputation recovery momentum to start taking shape. Now we can talk about the next step.
2. Go Back to Ground Zero
We have to ask ourselves this important question: Where did the rain start beating us? In a previous article, I posited that the single most potent force that you make you lose your reputation instantly is selfishness. That, I believe, is the root of all loss of reputation that you are responsible for.
Our reputation will not be recovered if we are not willing to unearth the ugly things that cost us in the first place. Radical transparency will be needed through and through if we are ever going to make it. I am aware that people are able to manipulate their way into getting a good reputation back. I have to warn you though: When you keep sweeping dirt under the rag when it comes to your reputation, that cost is much higher than you think.
Besides, sweeping the dirt under the rag is not necessarily recovering from a bad reputation. It is postponing the inevitable. It doesn't give you a clean break to deal with the issue at hand. It clouds your mind and your activities to keep hiding what needs to be dealt with.
Going to Ground Zero
If you are to go back and recover what you lost in terms of your reputation, the following things have to be put into consideration:
What were you known for?
That's what reputation is in a nutshell. What you are known for. So in reclaiming a lost reputation, it is important to ask yourself this question: What was I known for before this fall? You need an answer here because it will be important in the planning to recoup what you lost. Without an answer here, you have nothing to work with.
Immediately after that, we need to ask ourselves this question: What I am being known for right now? This will need you to do some research on what people perceive you for. If your reputation is at stake, it would be because you deviated from what you were known for.
What did you deviate from?
It is important to know the extent of your deviation from what you were known for in the first place. You cannot recover your reputation if you do not face head on your misdemeanour. If you were known for excellence, what is the deviation from it? Most importantly, what is the root cause of that deviation? Like I said, for the most part, it will be because of selfishness.
What Promise did you fail on?
The information you get here might be the simplest piece of information to act on. A promise once reneged on will create not only mistrust but also animosity. It will be important to note what promise you made and failed to deliver on. Bible says that those who will ascend the "Holy Hill" (metaphorically) will be those who...fulfill their promise even to their hurt. Go back there and find out what you promised.
What did you fail to inform?
People feel cheated when you do not keep them in the loop. When you do not inform them, they feel to be left out of the deal. That is the fastest way to start eroding your relationship with them. When that happens, your reputation is eroded. Find out where you failed to inform people on time, even if that information would have been detrimental to you.
If you know that you are not able to pay for example, or you have lost something that belonged to someone, you inform them at the earliest opportunity.
What do we want to be known to stand for?
What do we want to be remembered for? This is the straight forward question that has to be answered. Clarity is your power here. You have to know the answer to this question before you move on. It will give you the action points. Why is this important? Well, at times you have to change what you want to be remembered for.
This means that you will lose your reputation for a while as you are building a new one. It would also mean that you did not handle the transition well. Whatever the case, it is important to have clarity on what you want to be remembered for, or what you want to be known for at least for now.
Getting these pieces of information will give you enough fodder to work with as you build your reputation right up. You do not rush to talk to people about your reputation unless you have clarity about what you want to be remembered for. Do that first before you can talk to people. We shall pick this right up in the next article.