Compliments of U.S. National Archives via Flickr

Compliments of U.S. National Archives via Flickr

Whether we know it or not, each of us carries silent placards that emit messages. Dangling from our necks, tattooed on our person, and stamped on business cards are items that define us. These talismans also hold us accountable for our behavior. What are your actions, and your invisible automatic labels, transmitting? I think that many don’t make a connection between their extra-curricular activities and what they as persons ultimately represent.

What you do and who you are cannot be compartmentalized – they are in fact one and the same. Watching what you say is more difficult for “talkers,” who tend to shoot from the hip in a rapid fire fashion. Introverts can wreak equal, yet more covert damage in premeditated attempts to even the scales.

Nastiness and mean-spirited tomfoolery may haunt you if you’re soliciting for outside donations, or if you’re recruiting for new members. Like a permanent dye that permeates fabric, every sheaf of your endeavors is marked by your precedent. There is no escaping you: there is only the possibility of finding other versions in less appealing locales. If you knew your actions might spoil future signage, would you behave differently? It’s a shame that we each don’t come with a continuous camcorder that allows instantaneous replay.

Before splattering mud on your personal billboard, consider the following:

  • Other people may forgive, but they may never forget. Stupidity spoken in a firestorm brands recipients. Consider mulling your intended message in your mind several times before speaking. A lifetime of suffering can be released in a single instant.
  • If you’re been trespassed try not to harbor resentment. Doing so releases poison, prompts unbecoming behavior, and places you in the same category as the offender.
  • People may eschew your cause once they see your protrusions. Words spoken cannot be retracted, just as the unseemly cannot be unseen. Ugly intention solidifies, leaving a sour taste in targets’ mouths.
  • Strive every day to do better. Shed the skin of bad mishaps and find a role model who can serve as mentor. Choose to place a more positive message daily on your personal sandwich board.
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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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One Response
  1. Early in my career, a fellow associate made the mistake of imbibing too much alcohol at an after hours social of other company employees, including higher ranking managers. She regretted the incident and another associate told her not to worry because management cannot hold anyone accountable for something that happened after 5 pm. At that point in my career, I was not sure if that was true or not but I soon came to realize that her actions did affect how managers saw her. Because of this realization, I sought the advice of my boss/ mentor regarding this situation and the subsequent fall out. His words ring clear to this day, “Guard your reputation with your life. When the day is done, that is all that you have to hold onto. Your reputation will help you stay afloat or will sink you to the bottom fast.”
    This is really an kind of “old fashioned” notion that is complicated with all the forms of “newfangled” communication and connectivity available today. So, whether called a silent placard or personal sandwich board, reputation is of paramount importance. And, of course good ol’ Benjamin Franklin had a thought about reputation and said, “It takes many good deeds to build a reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

  2. Paula Mansfield on February 16th, 2014 at 9:06 pm