Rebuilding a Damaged Reputation

Posted by on Sep 14, 2012 in Career Advice | 10 comments

A few years ago I found myself in a position I never thought I’d be in- I had developed a bad reputation at my workplace. I truly believe I am a dedicated and hardworking employee and helpful and considerate co-worker- how did this happen?!

More rumors than a Fleetwood Mac album.

Somehow a few people at my organization had the impression I was unstable, unreliable, and difficult to work with. Rumors got around to my boss that I had multiple breakdowns in front of multiple employees and that I spent more time chatting with co-workers than I did working. To say I was surprised by these accusations is an understatement. (Jaw, meet floor. Oh, and did I just swallow a fly while sitting here open-mouthed?)

Okay, so I’m not all that AND a bag of chips.

Of course I’m not perfect, either. I must admit my own behavior did play a part in the misrepresentation of my character. During a period of organizational change, I felt lost and unsure of my future with the company. I felt resentful about the position I was put in and at the time I didn’t have much faith in the organization’s leadership. During this time of stress and change my work may have slipped a little and no doubt my attitude showed- oops! While I didn’t do the things that were said about me, I did let my disappointment get the better of me.

I felt even more frustrated and discouraged when I realized my reputation had been damaged but I also realized I had a choice- I could feel resentful for the situation I was in, or I could rebuild my good reputation. I’m sure you can guess which one I chose. (Hmmm… do I choose to be miserable or awesome?)

I am way too awesome to let the story end like this.

Feeling bummed about my situation and the misrepresentation of my character wasn’t going to help me make the best of what was in front of me. I chose to set aside my frustrations and resentment and focus on doing great work (and thus revealing my awesomeness to all). At the very least I wanted the chance to walk away from the situation with my self-respect and dignity intact, should I decide to seek employment elsewhere.

I’m not going to lie to you, giving my best to an organization I felt treated me unfairly was really hard. It took months of my giving my all to regain lost ground. Eventually I did rebuild my reputation as a dedicated, smart, capable, and helpful employee (-which I really am, so all I really had to do was be myself!)

The best part of embracing my inner awesome is the confidence and self-assurance I gained by making the best of a difficult situation instead of letting it get the best of me. (Hells to the yeah!)

just a few steps to rebuild a reputationImage courtesy of judepics

Rebuilding my reputation, step by step.

Step 1. Stop complaining, talking, and obsessing about it!

At some point I noticed how much I was talking about my crappy work situation with just about everyone from my husband to my friends to an HR representative at the office. (Speaking of The Office, Toby’s overflowing complaint files come to mind.) I talked about it so much it was difficult to think about anything else. I had to stop talking about it to move on.

Step 2. Get productive!

Keeping myself busy with actual work was a great way to shut off my blenderhead of complaints, it also proved my value and worth to the naysayers in the organization. All I really have to do is apply myself to the task in front of me- be it filing a stack of paperwork or submitting TPS reports. (Office Space reference for the win!)

Step 3. Do what I can do today and leave the rest for tomorrow.

I have found many problems appear insurmountable when I’m approach them from a past or future perspective. I can’t change what happened yesterday, and I can’t predict the future. I can, however, do my best today. (You hear that, problems, you’re totally surmountable. I’ll surmount you right now!)

Step 4. Be awesome!

Everyone has inner awesome and all I really had to do is embrace mine. Focusing on my frustrations had overshadowed my awesome. Any mistakes I’ve made or misrepresentations of my character cannot squash my awesome unless I let it. I’m only un-awesome if I give up. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about me, it matters what I think about me. When I embrace my inner awesome, it will shine through for all to see. (Oh, yeah!)

10 Comments

  1. Been there, Chrysta… wearing the T-shirt (figuratively) right now! 😀 It certainly can be disheartening when you’re accused of something that you know isn’t your character. It’s even worse when the people you thought knew you the best are the ones accusing you. In bringing peace to myself, I did just as you shared here. I stopped worrying about trying to convince people of how right I am and how wrong they were, and instead started working towards being the person that I know I am. My actions and character alone would shoot holes in their false assumptions about what they claimed I did or said. I dried up those tears and put on my AWESOME cap. Since doing so, the naysayers and false accusers have gotten as quite as mice. Another thing that proved effective for me was not changing my attitude towards those that made the accusations. I was continuously as nice as I could be in such a situation. After all, I am human and it’s hard to smile in the face of those who you know are trying to wreck havoc on one’s character. But considering, I think I handled it with class and awesomeness. It was a great lesson to learn, that’s for sure. :)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Deone! I apologize for my delayed reply as I’ve been recovering from surgery. Taking care of myself has been a priority the last few weeks!

      I absolutely love your comment about bringing peace to yourself- that’s exactly what I did. I can’t make anyone else happy, and I can’t make anyone else like me. I can live a life that I’m proud of, and be an awesome person!

      Have an awesome day!

      Chrysta

  2. Oh my gosh Chrysta, can I ever relate. The same thing happened to me if you can believe that. Yes, both of us awesome individuals being represented so poorly.

    I just had a busy body that liked to cause trouble so she started the rumors about me. Of course I immediately nipped it in the but by pulling her into my bosses office and confronting her head on. NO ONE talks about me and lies about it for goodness sakes. Trust me, they will not win this battle.

    I agree though, going around bashing everything and everyone harms mostly ourselves. She was just a very vindictive person who wanted to be wanted and needed.

    We have to prove our worthiness and take the steps you shared to get us through. So glad things worked out for you as well and I bet that won’t ever happen again. Lesson learned the hard way right!

    ~Adrienne

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Adrienne! I apologize for not replying to you sooner, as you know I’ve been focusing my energies on recovering from surgery- if I’m not taking care of myself then I’m not taking care of anyone else, either!

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I expect we’ve all had our reputation come into question at some point or another. Instead of focusing on the misrepresentation we all have more to gain by simply being awesome by doing our best work. Whenever I have let myself get wrapped up in things other people think, say, or do I stop living the life I want to live. Life’s too short for that!

      Thanks again, Adrienne! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  3. This is very helpful tips! Glad you had this kind of experience and showing us on how to rebuild our damage reputation. Since Reputation is one of the important aspect in our business. In my own opinion it is always necessary to Work things out on how we can serve someone or everyone is ever they will buy our products.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Chanikacha!

      I’m happy to hear that someone else can learn from my experience. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my career, and I know I’m stronger for it now. I’m so proud that I didn’t simply give up or give in and let the situation change me in all the wrong ways. Any individual or company can find themselves in this position and the most important thing is to move forward with respect for yourself and others.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  4. Great post, Chrysta. I think that any job can feel like it’s not working when we focus too much on the negative. Giving our total self to something even when we’re not in love with the environment can really help clarify where the problems actually lay.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Michael!

      Focusing on the negative has never gotten me anywhere I wanted to be. The best thing I can do in any day is focus on the positive and simply do my best work. Whenever I do my best work I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I’m a capable and valuable person and seeing how awesome I can be!

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  5. I’m so glad you had a good experience making a recovery like that! I do think that the success of regaining your good reputation depends on the culture of the organization. In my last job, the whole organization was diseased with distrust, anger, fear, and unhappiness to the point that everyone earned a bad reputation. It was impossible to separate people from their behavior caused as a result of the organization. To escape this I had no choice but to leave, and I learned that as soon as I found the right job for me that it was the organization that made me so angry. It turned me in to a person I didn’t want to be, no matter how hard I worked to the contrary! Now I love my work, look forward to going every day, and the “bubbly” and hard-working person I am is shining. Sometimes the only answer is to take yourself out of the situation!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Erin!

      You bring up a great point, which is that sometimes moving on IS the best way to handle a situation. If an organization is truly dysfunctional then there isn’t much an individual can do to turn it around or make the best of it. I’ve been in that situation, too, and moving on was absolutely the best choice I could make!

      I’m so happy you’re now working in an organization that is worth working for! Such an awesome result!

      Have a grateful day, dear!

      Chrysta

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