Your Reputation Matters More Than You Think

Between skull-crushing boredom, pressing deadlines, and demanding bosses, the professional life can be a drain on your emotional resources. As such, it’s no surprise that at some point everyone’s dark side, your less-than-desirable interpersonal tendencies, makes an appearance. And when it does, it can severely damage your reputation.

So what if you have a few bad days at the office? Most of us were taught as children to ignore hateful words from our peers – “sticks and stones will break my bones but words can never hurt me,” or my personal favorite, “I know you are but what am I?

Actually, your reputation matters more than you think:

  1. When we talk, we mostly gossip. In the 1970s, a group of psychologists studying normal conversation found that gossip accounted for around 70% of conversations.
  1. Gossip serves an important positive function. Gossip is a social mechanism geared toward coming to a common agreement about another person’s reputation. Gossip tells us whom we can trust. Conversely, the prospect of acquiring a bad reputation serves to control people’s otherwise selfish tendencies.
  1. People trust gossip over fact. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology performed an experiment in which two types of information were available to participants: hard data and gossip. Participants invariably believed the gossip over the data or their own observations.

As dozens of politicians and public figures have discovered, once you get a bad reputation, it can be difficult to shake.

So, how can you better manage your reputation? The key is to start before you need damage control. For many people, there is an important disparity between their identity, how they see themselves, and their reputation, how others see them. That disparity causes them to ignore feedback, deny their shortcomings, and, ultimately, damages their reputation.

For more about how your dark side can get you a bad reputation, check out our latest ebook, “11 Ways to Wreck Your Career”.