Your reputation follows you wherever you go. No matter how many paths you take or career changes you make, you will always have the same reputation. As such, it is so important that you constantly work to build an excellent one.
Of course, life is also full of mistakes and learning can be a process of trial-and-error. Along the way, you might find your reputation in need of repair. Here are a few tips to care for your reputation throughout your career – whether or not you need to fix a mistake.
The best medicine is preventive medicine.
Just as staying active and eating a healthy diet can help to prevent many diseases, taking care of your reputation before any problems begin is a sure path to success. To preserve your reputation:
- Always speak mindfully, no matter where you are or whom you are with. While you should not speak rudely or hurtfully about someone else in the office, keep the same standard during your free time in other contexts. You never know who could overhear your carelessly chosen words, even outside of the office.
- The same standards apply for email conduct. Do not write an email that would embarrass you – or another person – if it were accidentally forwarded to your entire company.
- Halt office gossip before it begins. If you are having an issue with a colleague, an employee or a boss, address that person directly or engage HR if necessary. Gossiping about a problematic person is not constructive and will only create more issues.
If you make a mistake, all is not lost.
We all make mistakes. If you happen to do something that bruises your reputation, remember: all is not lost. Do not throw everything away or give up on your reputation with one error. You can work to heal your reputation with certain steps:
- Apologize to whomever you have wronged, if someone else was involved. Ensure that your apology is conveyed sincerely and meaningfully – and that you are, in fact, truly sorry.
- Avoid making excuses for yourself. If you have made a mistake, gracefully accept the blame. Excuses may harm your reputation further, as others may perceive you as unable to admit your faults.
- Proactively re-build your reputation. Do not simply maintain status quo that kept your reputation afloat prior to a mistake: instead, actively improve your reputation by assisting others or making an extra effort on the job.
- Give it time. Do not expect your reputation to heal instantly – the fact is, even flawless reputations take years to build. But patience is a virtue: eventually, you can repair the damage.