How to deal with your reputation being attacked

A new client of mine is going through what I call “the transition phase”, where you move from a dishonest life to an honest one, and you have to dismantle the old life by telling everyone the truth and revealing the secrets you’ve been keeping and so on.

I won’t share the personal details, but he came clean with someone about a pretty big secret, and that person reacted badly. It was the kind of reaction we’re all afraid is going to happen, the one which creates the catastrophic fear that keeps us dishonest.

This other person went and told everybody, and tried to smear his name and turn people against him in a vengeful and spiteful counterattack(his truth-telling also involved rejecting this person and cutting them from his life).

We jumped on an emergency call, and he asked, How do I deal with this?

Well obviously the best way to deal with this is to prevent this problem by telling everybody your secrets first, so if someone else does it no one will be shocked and the person trying to cancel you will just look pathetic.

But if you haven’t done that already, the key here is just don’t defend yourself. Just admit to the parts that are true. Give only the bare basics of your side of the story. Don’t try to convince anyone of what’s true – let them decide for themselves.

You can say, “Look, I’ll tell you what I know, and you can make up your own mind about what’s true.”

Just be the bigger man, remaining calm and rational. Show the other person is being petty and they are not revealing anything you’re unwilling to share yourself.

If you’re committed to long-term honesty, then you can truthfully say, “I was planning on telling you about this when my courage was up to it, but this other person has disrespected my wishes to do so in my own time. It’s a shame because you and I could have connected deeply if they’d let me be the one to tell you first.”

We all have our demons. We’ve all done terrible things we’re ashamed of. People are often going to be quite compassionate about your human flaws… provided you are unapologetic, non-defensive, and willing to admit to them.

2 Responses

  1. Note: this process will take longer than you’re comfortable with. Let people come to their own conclusions over time rather than trying to win

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