a reputation is a funny thing.

reputations have been an big intangible part of human social
interaction for a long time.  i feel now more than ever, so much
importance is placed on the very idea of what someone thinks of someone
else. businesses are created and lost on their reputation, or on that
of their employees. jobs, especially those of politicians, rest on
their reputations. what took a lifetime to build can take one small
event to destroy.

there are examples of events in my life I’ve experienced when I’ve
encountered a reputation’s damaging effect, and how misleading they can
sometimes be.

the first example takes place in a beer hall in wiesbaden, germany. my
friend Mats, who was tourguiding me around, had to take off for an
appointment and left me with his friend. his friend was very
outspokenly of the opinion that all north americans were warmongering,
ignorant, arrogant jerks. That put our relationship off to a rough
start, to say the least. however, once inside the beer hall, i bought
beers for both of us – ordered in my broken german (which he raised an
eyebrow
at), and started conversing with him on his favorite topic, cars. not
much of a gearhead myself, but I was able to find out more about him
and I could see his posture and his expression toward me changed.
several beers later, I believe he had a change of opinion about me, if
not canadians and north americans.

the second example is that of when my brother started dating shiney.
shiney had a bit of a reputation around town as a bad ass, a
heartbreaker, a bitch..you name it. being concerned for my brother, I
took shiney aside one night and talked to her about it. as in all
stories, there are usually two sides, and not everything is black and
white. i’ve had lots of opportunities to get to know her more since,
and although some of what I had heard may have been true at the time,
she has learned and changed and grown. her reputation in town is great,
now.

i guess that’s the point of the topic. your reputation is something
that is given to you from somebody else, and the strange thing is, no
matter how you try to affect those other people, your reputation
doesn’t change. until you work to change yourself and communicate your
values and beliefs, your reputation will stay the same.

the other point I’m getting at here is that the old adage (slightly
modified) ‘don’t believe everything you hear’ is true. other people
have different values and beliefs than you do, and you do yourself a
disservice to take the word of other people into high regard before
finding out for yourself what a person is like.

a reputation is a funny thing.

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