Friday, November 30, 2012

Reputations and Consistency

My personal reputation is more important to me than I ever let on and quite honestly how people perceive me has a large effect on my public behavior. As with many people my reputation varies from each social environment. For instance, I behave in a more relaxed and informal manner with my family, and friends, but even between those two situations my behavior is different. My public persona is quite different as well.

Instead of focusing on the differences, much of my reputation and behavior is actually consistent across many social situations. Generally, I am considered to be a nice guy. I am known for my intelligence, curiosity, traditional values, and my calm, cool demeanor. The "nice guy" reputation has many benefits, I have a positive relationship with everyone I know and I rarely have conflict or drama, in fact I consciously avoid it. This is my basic, public persona and it is probably the most important to me. I believe that people tend to ignore or write of small deviations from the base reputation. This helps me have some flexibility and focus on avoiding huge deviations in my behavior that negatively effect my reputation.

My reputation developed largely due to family influences. I was brought up under traditional values i.e the golden rule, but one thing that was stressed in my family was kindness. I had many examples from my family that showed me how important it is to treat people with kindness, that people respond better and are more willing to reciprocate when you are kind. So in order to keep this reputation intact I almost always behave in ways that are consistent with being a nice guy. I am always well mannered, chivalrous, and positive when I interact with people outside of my inner circle of friends and family. I always offer help, or do favors for people even when it costs me.

The down sides of being a nice guy is that there is almost always  a tiny voice in my head begging me to be a jerk. There are many times where I help people when I do not want to, or entertain people I have no business interacting with. Other times I just want to be mean, and I often joke with my friends that I am going to be more self-serving and less nice but it never happens. Also, there has never been a time that I can think of where I completely abandoned my reputation to cash-in. Although, here are times when I will take advantage of my reputation to get favors, and hide bad behaviors by manipulating "the benefit of the doubt". Also, I have found that when I do mess up, people are more forgiving and willing to work with me or help which is why I do not feel the need to cash-in by going against my reputation. My reputation is more like an investment and there are times when I collect dividends for my kindness.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this I wonder if you would differentiate between "character" and "reputation" and if so which you were actually writing about. In my way of thinking character is your nature, the way you are, perhaps because of how your parents raised you, perhaps because of your genetic disposition. Reputation, in contrast, is something earned by behavior. Outside of writing exams that students find too hard, I too am known as a nice guy with a sense of humor, but that's just who I am. In contrast the writing the exams is something I do, something I could do differently but choose not to.

    In any event, being kind with others seems a very good rule of thumb to me in your personal life. Alas, it is not a very good example for reputations in an economic context. I wish it were.