This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.
There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status.
This article has been viewed 336,731 times.
You are not born with a reputation. Instead, you develop your reputation over time through your behavior and relationships with others. If you treat people disrespectfully or behave badly, you can develop a bad reputation. You may also develop a bad reputation if people spread gossip or negative statements about you, even if your behavior isn't actually bad. Repairing a bad reputation takes time, honesty, and effort. Ask friends and family for feedback. What could you do better? Make a plan for your future self. Strive to be the best you and treat others well.
Part 1Part 1 of 3:Assessing Your Reputation Download Article
- 1Journal about your self-perception. If you hear that your reputation is bad, ask yourself: What did you do or not do? Has your attitude changed since these actions?XResearch source How do you feel about yourself? Write the things you like and dislike about your current behavior and character. Think about how you can improve the things you dislike. Also, think of ways to be more confident about the things you do like, whether a personality trait or your clothing style.
- For example, if your bad reputation comes from your clothing choices but you like them, that is okay. You are not doing anything wrong by expressing your individuality. In fact, learning to assert yourself is a very important life skill. You might explain to others about why you wear what you do, whether you are following a religious belief or are interested in a particular subculture like punk music. Standing up to peer pressure and bullying is difficult but being your true self makes it worth it.
- 2Ask friends and family for feedback and help. Your loved ones can offer crucial perspectives on your personality and reputation. Have they heard negative opinions about you? Are these stories true? If the stories are true, ask your family and friends for advice on how to improve and repair the damage.XResearch source
- You might learn that your reputation is not as damaged as you believe. It is still important to be introspective.
- 3Recognize that your bad reputation may not really be about you. Unfortunately, sometimes people will spread gossip or negative statements about you that can damage your reputation. They may do this because of their own prejudices or insecurities.XResearch source
- "Slut-shaming" is a common tactic used to make girls and women feel bad about how they dress or behave. For example, perhaps your favorite pair of jeans is pretty tight, or you like to wear tops that show a little cleavage. You might develop a reputation as a "ho" or "slut" for wearing them, even though there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself through fashion.XResearch source Studies suggest that women may engage in this type of behavior almost as often as men.XResearch source This type of behavior stems from deeply sexist social and cultural traditions that believe that women's bodies are subject to public comment, and it can be hard to accept that these hurtful statements don't have anything to do with who you really are.
- This type of reputation can be very hard to deal with because it's inherently hurtful and unfair. You'll have to decide to what extent you want to comply with society's demands, and how much self-expression you feel comfortable with. Talking with a counselor may help.
- 4Evaluate your relationships. Look at who your friends are. Do they help or hurt your reputation? If they contribute to your bad reputation, seek new friends. Consider joining a new club or volunteer group. Look for people involved in positive, helpful activities. Surround yourself with people you admire. Encourage your old friends also to improve.XResearch source
- People also are prone to "catching" emotions of the groups they hang out with. If your group of friends tends to behave negatively, even if you're generally a nice person their behavior is likely to rub off on you. On the other hand, if you hang out with kind, nice people with good reputations, their behavior and feelings will influence yours in a positive way.XResearch source
- 5Check your online presence. In the digital age, it is important to maintain a good online reputation as well. Employers, college recruiters, and others will search your public profiles to find out who you are.XResearch source Use search engines to search for your name to see what links are associated to you. Are the top hits positive posts or professional social media profiles like LinkedIn? Your online life is real life, too, so keep it positive and above reproach.
- Delete any negative public social media posts. Consider posting some positive public posts.XResearch source If your social media profiles portray an image of a good person, it will make it harder for people to believe lies or gossip that tries to paint you in a bad light.
- Remember that things like reviews also feed your reputation. If you're rude or mean in reviews of services or businesses, this will reflect badly on you. If you have negative feedback to share, do so in a constructive way. For example, a Yelp review saying, "this Starbucks SUCKS and everyone there are CRAPPY *******" is unproductive, and could lead to people thinking you are mean or rude. Instead, write something like "The last time I bought coffee at Starbucks it took three times to get my order right, and the barista was really rude to me. This was really disappointing and I'll probably go elsewhere for my coffee." You've still communicated your complaint, but in a mature way.
- If you routinely post about things that many people may disapprove of, such as drug use, consider not posting those things (or at least set your privacy settings to restrict your posts' audience).
- Monitor what your friends tag you in on social media. Remove tags that seem inappropriate, or that you wouldn't want a potential boss or teacher seeing.
- Set your privacy settings on social media sites like Facebook to "close friends" or "friends" for any vents. Try not to broadcast negativity publicly.
- Regardless of the privacy setting, do not write hurtful or untrue things about others online. Also, avoid sending texts, photos, or emails that contain harmful content. You do not want to be a cyberbully.XTrustworthy SourceStopBullying.govWebsite run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing information related to identifying and preventing bullyingGo to source
Part 2Part 2 of 3:Improving Your Reputation Download Article
- 1Act quickly. If you hear that your reputation has suffered, work immediately to repair it.XResearch source Minimizing damage will help you get back on track quickly.
- Assess what needs to be done. This will depend on what type of reputation you've developed. For example, if you have a bad reputation as a bully, stop trying to push others around or insist on your own way. Perhaps you could volunteer as a tutor or mentor to a younger child to mend your reputation. Break down what your "bad reputation" is into elements: a reputation as a bully, for example, could mean people think you're unkind, disrespectful, manipulative, have anger issues or are self-centered. You'll need to address all of these elements to get rid of that reputation.
- Write a list of steps to help you. If the damage to your reputation is extensive, it may take several actions to begin repairing it. For example, if you have a bad reputation as a slacker who never takes anything seriously, it will take some effort and time for people to see that you have changed your ways. Consider ways you can counter this reputation, such as setting alarms so that you are early for school, taking on extra-curricular activities to show you're accepting responsibility, and handing assignments in on time to show that you're getting your act together.
- Do not panic but do not wait too long to make things right.
- Consider talking to a trusted adult about how you should approach repairing your reputation. An objective opinion can help you see things in a different way.
- 2Make amends to people you have wronged. Talk to those people who you have offended. Apologize for your behavior. Tell the other person that you value him or her and want to improve your relationship. Ask for forgiveness. For example, you could say, "Sarah, I am very sorry that I spread a rumor about you. I want to be your friend still. How can I make things better?" Overall, be sincere in your effort to improve who you are.XResearch source
- In addition to apologizing, offer a way to make things right. This will show that you are not just apologizing for show. For example, if you have a bad reputation for being late all the time, do not simply say, "I'm sorry I'm always late." Make concrete statements about what you will do next time, such as "I am setting reminders for events in my phone and leaving for things 10 minutes early so that I can be on time when I hang out with my friends. It's important to me that you know I value your time and your friendship."
- As another example, if you have a bad reputation for borrowing money and never paying it back, apologizing for this behavior is great, but it's only half the battle. Making amends would be paying the money back. If you don't have the money right now, tell the people you owe that you are working extra jobs to earn the money so you can pay them back. Give them a timeline as to when you can pay back installments of the money.
- You can also make indirect amends.XResearch source For example, if something you've done has caused damage that you can't repair, you can try to make a difference in another way. For example, if your reckless driving ended up injuring your friend, you can't un-injure him. However, you could offer to do his chores for him, help him with homework, or other things that make his life easier as he recovers.
- 3Clear up misunderstandings. If your reputation has been damaged due to rumors, tell people the truth. Privately confront those people who have been talking about you. Ask them why they have been spreading gossip. Request that they stop spreading untruths. For people affected by the rumors, discuss with them what happened.
- People who spread gossip are engaging in bullying. Verbal bullying, such as spreading gossip or trying to blackmail others by threatening to spread personal information around, can cause a lot of damage.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Psychological AssociationLeading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologistsGo to source If this is happening to you, talk with a trusted authority figure, such as a parent, teacher, or counselor. Bullying is never okay, and you can find help to get it to stop.
- 4Practice positive behavior. Be a helpful, encouraging presence. Show gratitude to others.XResearch source Consider how you can make a difference in small and big ways. Smile at people. Give people sincere compliments. For example, tell Amy how you found her presentation style to be very engaging.XResearch source Show kindness to those people around you.XResearch source You could help an elderly neighbor or offer to babysit for a busy parent. The more good deeds you do, the better you will feel.XResearch source You also will help people in return.
- Throughout the day, check your attitude. If you find you are being negative or unkind, ask yourself why. Try to find the root cause of your behavior. For example, does getting up early make you grumpy? If so, try to go to bed earlier so you are not as tired.XResearch source
- Have a "positive posture." Try standing straight, shoulders back, chin high. Stretch your arms out as wide as they can go. Feel powerful and positive. Carrying yourself with "positive posture" will encourage your mind to feel more positive as well.XResearch source
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write about the things for which you are thankful. What went right in your day? You also could ask a friend to be a gratitude partner. Together, you can discuss the things that are going well in your lives.XResearch source It is also okay to share things that are not going as well too.
- Consider volunteering for a good cause. Studies show that you are likely to feel better about yourself when you volunteer. Serving others will also show people that you are not self-centered or mean and that you are willing to work hard to improve your community.
- Gear your positive behavior toward fighting the specifics of your reputation. For example, if you have a bad reputation as a selfish person, make extra effort to help others. If you have a bad reputation as a gossip, openly refuse to talk about others, and confront others when you hear them gossiping.
- 5Be trustworthy and dependable. Show up when and where you say you will be. Do not be late. If people share confidences with you, do not tell anyone (unless the person is in danger). If other people can trust and rely on you, that will help your reputation.XResearch source
- Remember that actions always speak louder than words.
- If you slip up, acknowledge it immediately. Owning your mistake will show others that you are trustworthy and able to accept responsibility for your actions.XResearch source
- 6Show interest in others. Be genuinely interested in what other people do or think. People like people who ask them questions and show interest in them.XResearch source Follow up with friends in need. Keep track of your relationships. Demonstrate your commitment to others through time, trust, and reciprocity.XResearch source
- For example, ask your equestrienne friend how she did in her weekend competition. Ask her the name of her horse and how often she trains. If she has public tournaments, consider going to support her.
- If you have friends who have been struggling with an illness or another problem, call them. Ask how they are doing. Consider sending a card or flowers. Show that you have not forgotten them.
- Call your friends on their birthdays even if they live far from you. Keeping track of your friends and their important milestones shows that you value your relationships with them.
- 7Plan your future self. Decide who you want to be. Set a clear goal of how you want people to feel or think about you. What is most important to you about how others view you?XResearch source
- Keep your focus on showing your true self and living your values. "Make other people think I'm attractive" isn't a particularly helpful goal, and it also isn't something you can control. "Live honestly so people know I'm trustworthy" is something you're in control of, and it's also a goal that's in line with something you value about your character.
- If you aren't sure what your values are, take a little time to figure them out. What's the most important to you? What core beliefs shape how you see the world? What do you respect others for?XResearch source
Part 3Part 3 of 3:Maintaining a Good Reputation Download Article
- 1Find an accountability partner. After you have started to improve your reputation, ask a friend to hold you accountable for your behavior. When you are being negative or hurting others, your friend can tell you. Be sure to ask someone you trust. It is important that you are not defensive towards this person. He or she wants to help you.XResearch source
- 2Present yourself authentically. Even though you are striving to be a better person, make sure that person is still you. Ask yourself whether your appearance, demeanor, tone, and body language reflect the real you.XResearch source There is more than one way to be a positive, friendly person. You can possess good character traits but still have a unique personality.
- 3Be patient. Changing your reputation will not happen overnight. It will take some time for others to hear good things about you. Changing people's negative opinions about you takes longer than establishing an initial good reputation. The key is to be diligent and commit to becoming the best version of you.XResearch source
- In some cases, intentionally malicious damage to your reputation is legally punishable. Personal injury law prosecutes actions such as slander, which is publishing or saying a false statement that causes you actual damage.XResearch sourceLibel damages your reputation by publishing information that can be seen, such as spreading photos or written material.XResearch source These cases are difficult to win, so if you think this has happened to you, consult with a personal injury attorney.
About This Article
It can be hurtful to find out you have a bad reputation, but you can improve it by clearing up misunderstandings and making amends to people you’ve hurt. Before you work on your reputation, recognize that some people will spread gossip and negative statements no matter what. If this is the case, try to spend more time around positive people who won’t judge you! If you’ve done something to damage your reputation, apologize to the person you hurt. You can say something like, “Sarah, I’m really sorry I said something so mean. I want to be friends still.” If rumors have damaged your reputation, tell people the truth. Then, privately confront the people who have been spreading rumors, and ask them to stop. To learn how to be trustworthy and dependable to improve your reputation, read on!