If you’ve worked hard to create a solid reputation, the chances are you’ll probably try to protect it and consciously avoid doing anything that you think may damage it. But damaging a reputation is incredibly easy, and often we risk our reputation without even thinking about it by failing to avoid the following critical reputation-damagers.
Over Promising and Under-Delivering – It should go without saying that this is one of the most potent reputation damagers there is and yet so many businesses and individuals damage their reputation by doing this again and again, consciously or subconsciously. Know your limits, circumstances and resources and negotiate accordingly. Manage expectations effectively by being honest around deliverables rather than damaging your reputation by failing to deliver in any way.
Failing to Listen or Track-Trends – Failing to anticipate changes in customer needs and wants, or trends in your industry, will position you as irrelevant and leave you lagging behind your competitors. Keeping in touch with your existing and potential clients without being pushy or salesy, listening effectively, and tracking trends will also help you adapt to changes and keep help ensure you remain relevant.
Failing to positively Differentiate – Avoid bad-mouthing or being negative about your competitors. It just makes you look bad. Focus instead on highlighting what makes you positively different. Whinging or gossiping will only turn people off whereas focusing on positive differences will make you more attractive and positively compelling.
Failing to focus on the Relationship – Avoid focusing on short-terms wins at any cost and focus instead on developing high-trust/high-value relationships that will encourage people to trust you, be more willing to refer and recommend you, and be more likely to use you again themselves. If you can’t help them out, recommend someone who can. Your honesty and integrity will earn you more trust and respect than a short-term win ever would.
Breach of Trust – Whilst many of us will forgive an unexpected error or failure to deliver, breach of trust is a different ball-game altogether. A breach of trust is likely to create cynicism, suspicion and serious doubt who you are the claims you make. Rebuilding trust can be a long and sometimes painful process. Respecting others, keeping people informed, and being open and honest can all help you avoid breaching someone's trust.
Around 200 years ago philosopher Joseph Hall said ‘A reputation, once broken, may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep its eyes on the spot where the crack was.’ Wise words that are as relevant today as they were when they were first spoken.
Protecting your reputation means more than focusing on just one area. Avoid these key reputation–damagers and you’ll be in a stronger position to leverage your reputation for success
About Hannah Samuel
Hannah Samuel is a speaker, author and Reputation Champion! Her insights into reputation, trust and integrity are based on 20+ years in business development