Why is Reputation Important?
Reputation is the cornerstone of power. In the social realm, appearances are the barometer of almost all our judgments. Your reputation will protect you in the dangerous game of appearances, distracting the probing eyes of others from knowing what you are really like, and giving you a degree of control over how the world judges you — a powerful position to be in.
A strong reputation increases your presence and exaggerates your strengths without you having to spend much energy. It can also create an aura around you that will instill respect, even fear. In the fighting in the North African desert during World War II, the German general Erwin Rommel had a reputation for cunning and deceptive maneuvering that struck terror into everyone who faced him. Even when his forces were depleted and the British tanks outnumbered his by five to one, entire cities would be evacuated at the news of his approach. As they say, your reputation inevitably precedes you, and if it inspires respect, a lot of your work is done for you before you arrive on the scene, or utter a single word.
During China’s War of the Three Kingdoms (A.D.207-265), General Liang was able to fool his rival Sima Yisimply by letting his track record for being an undefeated leader in battle do the work for him. Liang’s troops were far outnumbered by Sima Yi’s, yet he devised a clever last resort plan. Liang donned a Taoist robe and played the lute upon the wall of the city he was defending. His soldiers opened the gates and hid. When Sima Yi’s troops advanced upon the unguarded city, Yi recognized his opponent sitting alone upon the wall. Fearing a trap, Sima Yi called his soldiers to retreat.
How To Build A Reputation?
In the beginning, you must work to establish a reputation for one outstanding quality, whether generosity or honesty or cunning. This quality sets you apart and gets other people to talk about you. You then make your reputation known to as many people as possible (subtly, though; take care to build slowly, and with a firm foundation), and watch as it spreads like wildfire. Reputation is a treasure to be carefully collected and hoarded. Especially when you are first establishing it, you must protect it strictly, anticipating all attacks on it.
Make your reputation simple and base it on one sterling quality. This single quality—efficiency, say, or seductiveness—becomes a kind of calling card that announces your presence and places others under a spell. A reputation for honesty will allow you to practice all manner of deception. Casanova used his reputation as a great seducer to pave the way for his future conquests; women who had heard of his powers became immensely curious, and wanted to discover for themselves what had made him so romantically successful.
4 Ways To Safe-Guard And Grow Your Reputation
1. Never appear desperate in your self-defense against the slander of others
Do not let yourself get angry or defensive at the slanderous comments of your enemies, it reveals insecurity, not confidence in your reputation. Take the high road instead, and never appear desperate in your self-defense.
2. Sow doubt and spread rumors about your rival
An attack on another man’s reputation is a potent weapon, particularly when you have less power than he does. He has much more to lose in such a battle, and your own thus-far-small reputation gives him a small target when he tries to return your fire.
P.T. Barnum used such campaigns to great effect in his early career. But this tactic must be practiced with skill; you must not seem to engage in petty vengeance. If you do not break your enemy’s reputation cleverly, you will inadvertently ruin your own. Even if they vehemently deny it, people will still be wondering why they are so defensive. Barnum used this tactics to ruin his competition’s Peale’s reputation by sowing doubts about Peale’s museum stability and solvency. Doubt is a powerful weapon: Once you let it out of the bag with insidious rumors, your