It's worried me that one of the most read posts of the last year on this blog is 5 Ways to destroy someone's reputation. Have I encouraged lots of people who wanted to do just that - destroy someone else's reputation? If so, that saddens me, particularly as on-line bullying can be a life-threatening phenomenon. Encouraging verbally destructive behaviour wasn't the point of the post. The point was to say how easy it is to destroy someone's reputation unthinkingly or unintentionally through unfounded rumours or distorted facts.
These words from the New Testament never cease to be relevant:
"the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest fire is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire!" James 3: 5 - 6
I intended to follow up '5 ways to destroy someone's reputation' with a further post on 5 ways to build or enhance someone's reputation, but I never did, in spite of receiving a few helpful suggestions. I think it's time to put that right. Many things could be said on the subject, but for starters here are 5 suggestions.
5 ways to avoid destroying someone's reputation:
- do not believe what you hear or read about a person without questioning who is saying or writing it, why and on what evidence;
- do not pass on what you have heard 'in confidence' to a few people;
- even if you know something negative to be true about a person do not add a few thoughts from your own ignorance, prejudices or jealousies;
- be especially cautious on social media to avoid passing on rumours or allegations about someone - it's all to easy to tweet, retweet, share on Facebook, blog or other applications without stopping to think first;
- if you know the truth about someone is being distorted in a way that harms their reputation, then do something about it - find a way to speak up
All this is much easier said than done - and I know I fall short in this as in many other ways.
"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
keep a watch over the door of my lips." Psalm 141: 3
Image Credit: John Haslam on Flickr, CC License