A few years ago, I was introduced to a new board member on a board of directors I covered as part of my job as a reporter. We exchanged pleasantries and he started to end the conversation by saying something to the effect of “well, I hope you make us look good in the newspaper. (Your colleague) that I’ve dealt with before always makes (this other board) that I’m on look so negative.”
I looked him straight in the eye and said that this is what I tell sources who say that: “I’m a professional reporter. I know not everyone is this way, but I can promise you that in my stories, I report what happens. So if you want to look good in the newspaper, do good things. If you don’t want to look like a bad guy or a bully, then don’t act like one.”
The man was initially taken aback, but agreed that was good advice. He quickly learned I’m true to my word and I maintain professional standards. My professionalism isn’t the point here, though.
We earn our reputation
The point is that this idea is true whether we’re talking about being in the newspaper or not. Think of those who act abusively against someone else. Doesn’t the bad guy in that story often say “don’t tell anyone about me” or find ways to shame the person into silence either by instilling fear or, worse, instilling the idea that the victim is somehow to blame for the abusive behavior? This is true in all forms of abuse from physical violence to emotional and mental cruelty. Bullying is a form of abuse, too. The truth is, if they don’t want to be known as a bad guy, they shouldn’t have acted like one.
The reverse is true as well. Do you want to be known as a good person? Do you want that reputation? Then be a good person. Do good things.
Everything happens twice. First on the inside, then on the outside. You must create what you want inside your heart and mind before you can hope to see it in the world. -Iyanla Vanzant