Reputations ruined

One reason why Americans take criticism so personally is the importance they place on public perception. Reputation, especially in business, is a very sensitive issue. It can be damaged quickly, and often irreparably, by criticism.

The public relations sector has been thriving in the American economy for generations. And in the digital age companies such as reputation(dot)com focus solely on helping companies (and individuals) to protect their reputations.

Warren Buffett, called the Wizard of Omaha and the Oracle of Omaha, and considered the greatest American investor, once said “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Roger Boisjoly, an engineer at NASA during the Challenger space shuttle disaster, suspected that the explosion would occur. He tried to warn his superiors, but was ignored. During the investigation he was very forthcoming about what went wrong and whose fault it was, damaging many the reputation of many colleagues and superiors.

Even though he had fought to keep the disaster from happening, by ruining those reputations he damaged his own. Boisjoly received such horrible treatment at work that he eventually quit. Because he had a reputation as a reputation destroyer he couldn’t find another engineering position. Instead, he worked as a speaker on workplace ethics, teaching Americans how to avoid his mistakes and point out problems in a work environment without hurting reputations.