Today I’m discussing how to handle losing your professional reputation.
I made a serious mistake, permanently damaging relationships with my boss and coworkers when I lied and almost lost my professional license. I’m on probation and can’t work in my chosen profession for a year. What’s worse is that the verdict against me now sits on my permanent public record, meaning that anyone who looks into me professionally will see it.
My only chance for career salvation seems to be to move to another city, but my family is here. Without them, I don’t have any backup for my kids when I travel, and my kids don’t want to leave their schools and friends.
I desperately want to win back the trust and respect I’ve lost. I sent my former boss an apology letter and email, but she returned it unopened. I tried to arrange lunch with two of my former coworkers, but each said she was terribly busy. A third was willing to talk with me on the phone, and I told him how very sorry I was. I said I wanted to make amends and he said, “The problem is, no one knows if this ‘new you’ is just a new scam you’re trying to pull off.”
What can I say to win back their trust and respect? And a year from now, how do I handle those who ask me questions about my record?
Talk doesn’t earn trust. Repeated honest actions win trust and respect.
Begin by admitting what you did wrong, first to yourself and then to others. We respect those who honestly admit mistakes and who tell the truth, even when doing so puts them in a bad light.
Then, make genuine amends by reversing your former actions. If in the past you’ve used others, offer to be of service to them. If you weren’t straight with others, tell the truth from this moment on, even when it works against your interests. Be the opposite of a scammer by thinking of others first, not yourself.
Although you can’t work in your chosen profession, work hard in whatever career field you’ve landed. By doing so, you can build a new record. Those who meet you and look into your past will see an individual who acts radically differently than her record. If you’re lucky, they’ll ask you about it, and you can tell them you learned a painful lesson.
In other words, don’t just talk a good story, visibly and completely change your behavior so that those you wronged, and others, see a new you.
© 2016, Lynne Curry. If you’d like an answer to your career question, it’s easy. Write firstname.lastname@example.org. Lynne authored Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, 2016) and Solutions. You can also follow Lynne@lynnecurry10 on Twitter or access her other posts on SheKnows, www.workplacecoachblog.com or www.bullywhisperer.com.