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Defamation: The Guiding Principles Which Lead to Reputation Damage

Contained in this blog are several articles which address the subject of defamation. There are certain guiding principles that individually and/or in combination explain various aspects of defamation as they relate to and result in image and reputation

damage. The following is meant to serve as a “checklist” which encapsulates all these principles.

  • It can take a lifetime to build a reputation but only seconds to destroy it.

  • You can’t “un-ring a bell.” Once someone has absorbed information, it can’t be “erased” from their mind.

  • Where there is smoke, there is fire. when there is a negative impression about something, some people will always believe it even if that impression is proven to be not true.

  • Once “seeds of doubt” are planted, the “entity” in question becomes “damaged goods”

and subject to suspicion. You can never wipe the slate clean.

  • “Perception is more important than reality and often dictates the reality.” This is often true, especially as it relates to opinions, impressions, judgments, that people make of the subject in terms of how they view them.

  • In terms of public opinion, the perception will often obscure facts when presented and create a totally different impression.

  • People will generally believe something to be true if it is seems plausible and there is no other counterbalancing input that refutes or challenges that information.

  • Often, even if there is a dissenting view to information received, there could be an

element of doubt – especially of the negative information is received first.

  • In a situation where someone is making a choice (e.g. selecting something) if there is

both equally positive and negative input on an option to choose, many would take the

conservative approach (e.g. not take a chance) and go with another choice.

  • Negative information when spread by “word of mouth” is particularly damaging because the information can change from one person to another, be misinterpreted or embellished upon which often can distort or escalate the negativity from the original message.

  • When negative information is spread in a “non-controlled” means without boundaries in terms of who has access to it, it is impossible to ensure that a “counter message” reaches everyone who received the original negative message.

  • Similarly, there is no end to the dissemination of negative information in terms of time – it can go on forever and follow a person, company, etc. to the end of their career/business.

  • On countering an original message (positive or negative), the second source of

information is never as effective because the person impacted may have already made a firm determination and/or he or she will filter the second information through the original information received (e.g. not a clean slate to absorb).

  • In terms of judging professionals (as opposed to products), a person’s image

and reputation is often equally or more of a determining factor is selecting one’s services than experience, credentials and/or achievements. Sometimes described as having “a good feeling about someone” or being “comfortable with a choice.”

  • In a similar vein, many people select professionals on the basis of character (e.g.

“Character Counts”). As a result, perceived personal misbehavior might trump professional competence in terms of the critical criteria in the selection process.

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