Plumbing the depths and ruining a business reputation


Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Vice Pres...

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Vice President George H. W. Bush – Don’t talk about them! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Less than professional

While I am talking about reputations, which I was the other day, have you noticed the comment threads on some of the professional websites? Often one can have a perfectly well-chosen and appropriate piece ultimately damaged by some very stupid comments.

What seems to happen is that initially there will be useful intelligent responses but a certain point someone will latch on to a throwaway remark in an otherwise considered response and then it is all downhill.

The silliest comments usually start after the first twenty more reasoned ones.

Quite often we will get into kitchen sink politics involving prejudices about Tony Blair or Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan or George Bush the elder or the younger, which is bound to get some peoples’ backs up, depending on their own views. Fortunately, on professional websites (and I include accountants’ websites) we do not generally descend as far as invoking Godwin’s Law  but there is no guarantee. Once a thread has gone into decline it deters others from commenting who would have had something of value to add.

Anonymity is not what it used to be

It is of course true that many of the most unconsidered comments are from those who suppose they are anonymous, but they are bound to be known to some through their style or from clues they give. For example in my professional (accounting and tax) area, the world is not that large. Most people know someone who will know someone else and identities are not so hard to guess.

Then again there are there are those who actually get into ridiculous debates using their own names.

If you see someone making intemperate comments about another, arguing ignorantly over ancient politics or re-writing history, would you engage them to act for you on a professional basis ? No, I thought not.

Avoiding Radio Ga Ga

Apart from politics, the only more sure-fire way of getting someone’s back up is to invoke religion. Some of you may know that I am a licensed radio amateur (ham) though not very active these days. The one big rule we always had was to avoid talking about politics and religion. That is because discussing either is a guarantee of trouble.

Don’t become some background noise. You wouldn’t want to lose the respect of your fellow professionals or drive away a prospect with a silly prejudiced remark. Then again, perhaps these out-of-control comment threads are a useful filter for all of us when deciding with whom to do business. What do you think?

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