One of the most important aspects of your career isn’t your technical ability, your job title or even your education. It’s your reputation, and it will follow you everywhere you go. Your reputation, although not always an accurate representation of who you are, is what your business associates will base their judgements by. In order to create a positive reputation, it’s important to consciously work at creating good impressions, making respectable choices and putting your best foot forward.
Whether you’re just starting out in the workforce, determined to make a name for yourself and build a reputation you can be proud of, or you’re working to come back from a reputation damaging social mishap, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to managing your reputation:
Bad reputations stick with us. Unfortunately for us, a bad reputation is a lot harder to change than a good one. Those working to improve their reputation need to show many good actions to convince others they’ve changed for the better. On the contrary, only a few undesirable actions need to be committed for someone to appear changed for the worse. Keep in mind that if you’re working to change your bad reputation, it’s not going to happen overnight. This article from Fast Company does a great job at explaining the concept.
First impressions matter. You’ve probably heard it for most of your life, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and it’s true. The impression you leave the first time you interact with someone is likely to stick with them, making it difficult to change their mind if you didn’t come off well. Do your best to create a great first impression by being genuinely you; don’t try to go above and beyond just to get others to like you because you’ll more than likely come across as fake or phony.
Get your ethics in check. This should go unsaid, but when it comes to making an ethical decision, take the high road. Always. Making ethically questionable choices will not only get you left out of a social circle, but it may even get you blacklisted in the business world too. If you’re ever put into a situation where you’re asked to do something you don’t believe is ethical, speak up let them know you don’t feel comfortable completing the task yourself.
Think before you speak. It’s easy to get caught up in office gossip, complain about your full workload or whine about the stale coffee. Although these conversations may make you feel connected to your coworkers, they can be damaging to your reputation. Think before you speak to avoid looking like a negative Nancy to your coworkers.
As we try to manage and improve our own reputations, the adage “treat others the way you’d like to be treated” remains true. Just like you don’t want someone creating a judgement or impression before they’ve truly gotten to know you, do the same for others. Don’t base your entire judgement on a first impression and understand a reputation may not accurately represent the person in front of you. Work hard to form your own opinions and get to know someone on your own terms.