It can destroy people’s trust in you, it can destroy relationships and ultimately shut doors in your face.
Yet, many people believe that time is the healer, and that with time knowledge of the incident or scandal will fade. Interestingly, organizational research on the topic varies. Some say it can take 3.5 years to restore a damaged reputation whilst others have found it to be more than 10 years.
In some cases people never forget nor forgive.
Hence the saying: ‘’Reputation is like a fragile vase, once broken, not easily repaired’’. Here is a story that lends more weight to this argument.
There once was a little girl who had a bad temper. Her father gave her a bag of nails and told her that every time she lost his temper, she must hammer a nail into the backyard fence.
The first day, the girl drove 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as she learned to control her anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. She discovered it was easier to hold her temper than to drive those nails into the fence….
Eventually, the day came when the girl didn’t lose her temper at all, she told her father about it and die father suggested that she now pull out one nail for each day that she was able to hold her temper.
The days passed. The young girl was able to tell her father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his daughter by the hand and led her to the fence. He said, "You have done well my little one, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like these. Remember, you can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say ‘I’m sorry,’ those wounds will still remain."
You can cover up cracks, but the scars remain.
In athletes scar tissue can cause lack of performance and further injuries. In companies it is vital to fix that which caused the scars in the first place and to make the processes better than ever before. This takes time, investment, effort and hopefully fading memories.
However it is better you do not damage your reputation the first time around! It is better that you do not drive nails into the fence!