Every year has its fair share of notable reputation disasters, and 2014 has been no different. With NFL scandals coming out of the woodwork just as the pre-election political drama is heating up on those bendy new iPhones, it seems like no one is immune to reputation damage this year. Aside from hoping that your drama is overshadowed by yet another athlete/politician/celeb behaving badly or a much awaited tech release gone awry, what can you do to keep your nose clean throughout the remainder of 2014? We’ve compiled a handy list of tips and tricks to help you get through the holidays unscathed.
- First and foremost, if you have any ties to the NFL or any politicians, cut them immediately. No, really. Athletes Behaving Badly may very well likely be the theme of 2014, and you want your name as far away from that as possible. With elections coming up in November, the only noise that may drown out the drama in the NFL will be the political mudslinging. Again, probably best to stay as neutral as possible here. There’s very little that is more embarrassing than when that great guy you’ve known and celebrated or endorsed for years turns out to have a closet Jekyll/Hyde issue. Unfortunately, singing one’s praises often aligns your convictions in the eyes of your clients and fans. Great if they’re a benevolent philanthropist. Not so good if they’re a violent substance abuser.
- Watch your alcohol intake. Between conference season and the holidays, there will be many a potential reputation ruining gauntlet to be run in the upcoming months. Do yourself a favor and keep the drinking to a minimum, especially at work events. Yes, it’s always hilarious to see someone get a little silly at the corporate Christmas party, but keep in mind that there’s a fine line between adorably amusing and scarily sloppy. We all love to see our coworkers cut loose and dance on the table. Don’t be that guy – they’re laughing at you, not with you.
- Keep private matters private. No, you may not have as big an audience as Jennifer Lawrence, but if you’ve got questionable photos somewhere “up in the cloud” you might as well be prepared to have someone see them. If you have something that you don’t want anyone to see/share/know about, here’s a free tip: DON’T PUT IT ON THE INTERNET. I’m not just talking about nude photos here, either. If you’ve got anything that you don’t want associated with you or your brand, don’t put it out there. Someone will find it, and depending on the degree of entertainment or embarrassment, they very likely will share it. That little password on your account? It’s not foolproof. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you.
- Be the nice guy. Make friends wherever you can. People are a lot less likely to buy into bad press if they have a hard time believing you’re capable of wrongdoing. It’s pretty simple, really. Go way, way back to those preschool lessons. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Sadly, that is not common practice, especially in the business world these days. If you’re good to people, they will notice. They’re less likely to buy into gossip or rumor, and more likely to give you a heads up if they hear anything negative about you. The sooner you know what is being said about you, the sooner you can correct a rumor or fix a problem. Early intervention is key in effective reputation management.
- If you should mess up, own it. It happens to the best of us, though outcomes vary greatly. Time and time again, we see that those who own their mistakes often face a much shorter road to redemption. Playing dumb, shifting blame, or getting combative will not do you any favors. Acknowledge your part in any wrongdoing, fix what you can, and move forward.
Knowing where potential problems may pop up is a key element in staying on top of your game. Putting your best foot forward whenever possible will help not only keep you out of trouble, but will also help your good reputation grow. What will you be doing to finish off the year in a positive light?