With the 2012 Presidential Elections just around the bend, expect to come across more people discussing, debating or throwing digital blows to defend their political positions. The last 60 days leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election tends to be filled with heightened emotions – so don’t be surprised if people with opposing views unexpectedly bring the debate directly to you, in person and online. It’s not unusual for unchecked emotions, anxious minds or campaign pressures to lead to moments where self-control fails royally – taking your reputation down for the count.
Forget Politics

Push partisan differences to the side. No matter what party line you lean toward, keep in mind that the web remembers your digital footsteps, so it’s always a good idea to believe digital stumbles will be captured, saved and made available online long after the 2012 Election has passed.

Every day more employers, recruiters and competitors rely on online reputation monitoring services to collect digital intelligence about how people conduct themselves. If data is being gathering about you, how you behave or misbehave online is also being tracked. Data may be collected randomly or collected on an ongoing basis to identify patterns of behavior that may not be acceptable to a particular organization.

Express Yourself… Or Not

Freedom of speech is a right that should be respected.  Before you share your political views online, make sure you spend time thinking about the key points you want to share well before you start talking. Know your topic(s) well and whenever possible know both sides of the issue equally as well. Be careful about pushing the political buttons of those you work for and work with.

 “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” Socrates

Follow these 10 steps to keep your reputation from being harmed and your character from being attacked:

  1. Be sure you want to add your voice to the conversation.
  2. Be diligent and do your research before you comment on political issues, especially online.
  3. Express your position without being cruel, insensitive or condescending.
  4. Know your principles and perspective well. Shy away from language or behaviors that take away from the point(s) you want to get across.
  5. Be clear about what you want to say.
  6. Remain in control of your emotions. Don’t allow yourself to be lured into situations that quickly become uncomfortable.
  7. Allow others to openly express their beliefs and perspectives without becoming defensive.
  8. Frame the conversation or someone else will.
  9. Remember, some people hold deep grudges and may never forget a nasty online exchange made in the heat of a (politically charged) debate.
  10. You never know whose desk your resume may end up on or where your next referral may come from. Express your views with care and learn to disagree without verbally striking out.

What would you add to the list?


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