Your Reputation Precedes You

I try not to prejudge people. I do my best not to listen to gossip about people and I really, really try not to form an opinion about someone based on somebody else’s experience with the person. 

I absolutely hate it when someone else forms an opinion about me based on something they “heard” from somebody else. They have never met me but they think they know me. I’d be willing to bet that you don’t like that either. 

Yet it happens every day. It happens because like it or not, your reputation precedes you. 

Everything you do, everything you say, every commitment you keep and every one you don’t, they all count. They all matter! They all build up or tear down your reputation. 

That might not be fair, it might not be right, but that’s the way it is. That’s good news for some people and terrible news for others.

You have a credibility bank, it’s an incredibly valuable asset yet many people seldom even think about checking their bank statement. Every time you do what you say you will you make a small deposit into your credibility bank. Every time you fail to keep a commitment you make a very large withdrawal from your bank. That might not be fair either but that too is just how it goes.

When you gossip about people you’re actually making a withdrawal from your credibility bank. The surprising thing is that your hurting your reputation with the very person you’re gossiping with. Always keep this interesting fact in mind: the person you’re gossiping with today will likely be gossiping about you tomorrow. 

When your reputation includes being a gossip then your credibility bank takes a big hit. 

Sometimes we hate saying no so much that we say yes to doing something that we know darn well we either won’t or can’t do. That hurts your credibility. You can have no finer reputation than that of a person whose word is known as gold. When you say you’re going to do something then do it or say no right up front. A courageous no will beat a meek and insincere yes every time.

You can’t control whether or not people talk about you behind your back. You also can’t control what they say so don’t waste a lot of time worrying about it. Instead work to build a strong reputation and know that your efforts will result in a credibility bank loaded with positive examples of you being a person known as a trusted resource who can be counted on no matter what! 

That’s the kind of reputation that you want to precede you! 


13 thoughts on “Your Reputation Precedes You

  1. Hi, this is something that I think about often and tell those whom I consult with to think about. Our reputation is our calling card and I will ask others if this is true would people you encounter keep yours or throw it in the trash once you are gone?

  2. A credibility bank account–a powerful metaphor; thanks for writing about it. Credibility is linked to integrity and very similar to Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s concept of a Trust Bank Account as written in his watershed 1989 book entitled the Seven Habits of Highly Effective people. Credibility, especially a digital reputation, is everything–as Sun CEO Scott McNealy correctly anticipated at the start of the digital deluge.

  3. Good words Steve. Thanks for sharing with challenges that we all have…daily. Pat MacMillan wrote in his book The Performance Factor how credibility is the foundation of us being accepted as a leader. They talk about how it is made up of a few things; our honesty, our competence, how visionary we are and how much we inspiration people. This provides the structure to allow for true collaboration to occur. The other areas that lead to true collaboration, other than Accepted Leadership, are Effective Team Processes (provides the method), Excellent Communication (provides the means) and Solid Relationships (provides the climate).

    I think credibility is huge! It is a big part of building trust which is the foundation to relationships. Without relationships, you won’t lead very far or long.

    Just some of my thoughts. Good stuff to “chew on”. Thanks

    Paul Perrin

  4. Great post, Steve. Your article resonates with our belief that you earn Relationship Capital “RC” by making and fulfilling commitments and building positive perceptions. These perceptions flow across the internet. The perceptions of others have always mattered offline, but now in our hyperconnected, transparent, and morally interdependent world, capturing, accounting, and utilizing your “RC Cred” asset may be the difference between distinction and extinction.

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