Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Part 1



Your “Reputation” is your “Image” as “seen” by a “variety of persons”. 

This “variety of persons” is called “stakeholders”.

A “stakeholder” is any person who can “affect” or be “affected by” your reputation.

[We are talking about your reputation in the personal context. If we extend this discussion to the organisational context, and talk about organizational reputation,  a “stakeholder” need not be restricted to only a person but can include any “entity” (animate beings like humans as well as inanimate things like other organizations, government, society, country, world etc)]

Reputation is perception-based.

Your Reputation consists of perceptions – whether true or false – held by your Stakeholders about you.

Your reputation is made up of perceptions held by others about you.

Hence, you do not “own” your “reputation”.

Your reputation is “owned” by your “stakeholders”.

However, you can certainly “manage” your reputation by influencing perceptions of stakeholders.


You can manage your reputation by controlling two things:

1. Your Behaviour

2. Your Communication Style

Merely “good behaviour” will not guarantee you a good reputation.

You must “effectively communicate” your “good behaviour” to your stakeholders.

That is why just behaving well but remaining silent may not be of much use as far as your reputation is concerned.

In fact, your “silence” may prove counterproductive, as in the absence of any communication from your side, stakeholder perceptions about you may be influenced by rumours and other external factors.

Also, your silence may cause a “vacuum of information” and lend credence to such rumours and damage your reputation.

That is why, as far as “reputation management” is concerned – SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN

On the other hand, “goody-goody communication” without “matching good behaviour” will create a dissonance in the minds of stakeholders and this mismatch in perception can cause greater damage to your reputation than by remaining silent and communicating nothing.

This means that “genuine good behaviour” coupled with “honest transparent communication” will enhance your reputation.

Any attempts at fake behaviour, pretence, masquerade, mendacity, deception, cover up and misusing Public Relations Gimmicks and Image Management Techniques to manipulate communication may boomerang causing irreparable damage to your reputation.


Your overall reputation is made up of perceptions held by others about you by various stakeholders.

Thus, each stakeholder will have an “image” of you in his mind.

Hence, you will have multiple reputations and your overall reputation will be a symbiosis of these multiple reputations.

Luckily, things are not that complicated.

Various Stakeholders who influence your Reputation can be classified into three categories:

1. First-hand Observers or “Direct Experience” Stakeholders

2. Second-hand Observers or “Indirect Experience” Stakeholders

3. “Peripheral” External Observers or “Gossip and Grapevine” Stakeholders  

As an example, let us talk about “YOU” and “YOUR REPUTATION”.

Your close family, intimate friends and your immediate work colleagues who observe you first-hand and directly experience your behaviour comprise the first category.

Your neighbours and relatives and various persons who you come in contact with or who observe you socially, and at work, comprise the second category.

The third “peripheral” category comprises all the “gossip” rumours and hearsay about you – the dynamic mass of information floating all over about you, in the real world and in cyberspace.

It is this third “peripheral” category that can cause maximum damage to your reputation since it is here that unsubstantiated opinions are expressed without factual information and propagated throughout the grapevine network which is set abuzz with rumours and gossip.

Extending this “three-tier” paradigm in the organizational context, this “peripheral” category of stakeholders includes Media (both Mainstream and Social Media) and Web 2.0.

In today’s information technology driven wired world, whereas reputation management amongst direct and indirect stakeholders like employees, customers, affiliates, shareholders, investors et al is important, it is even more important “manage” your reputation in “peripheral” stakeholder domains, especially in the media and your online reputation, by communicating effectively.


Simply being good may not help you gain a good reputation.

You must “effectively communicate” your “good behaviour” to all your stakeholders.

Yes, though your reputation may be built on the foundation of your “goodness”, it is effective communication that is the key to reputation management.

To be Continued in Part 2 ... 

In Part 2 of this series of Reputation Management, I will discuss a recent case of unwarranted Reputation Damage caused to a “good” organisation due to ineffective communication.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
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A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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Iamateur said...

Well Written Sir.
Yeah one should effectively communicate for reputation as well as with the help of communication only people will come to know the actual personality of a person...

ShUbhi said...

Well Written Sir.
Yeah its necessary to communicate effectively for the reputation in the organisation as well as with the help of communication only people can identify the actual personality of a person.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Shubhi, @lamateur
You are right - communication is the key