The end of a lawsuit – or any crisis for that matter – can necessitate the question of how best to move on. How to rebuild or manage your reputation going forward after a public embarrassment can be a significant challenge, and not just for major public figures or the heads of large companies. While celebrities or other wealthy individuals can build teams of professionals to help them navigate the obstacles of managing their image, the rest of us often need to find our own way – perhaps with the help of a trusted friend or family member. Here are five critical steps you can take to help you find your way through these troubled waters:
1. Avoid speaking publicly on your troubles.
Revisiting or rehashing the past is almost never beneficial. If you need a reason to help avoid the conversation, you might suggest that your preference for staying quiet is based on advice from legal counsel. Whenever the subject of your lawsuit or crisis does arise, be careful with what you say. You want to avoid appearing at all confrontational, or like you are trying to explain away or defend yourself or your actions. This may give the impression that you are making excuses, which will only reinforce any negative perceptions that people have about the incident.
2. Stay out of trouble.
This should go without saying, but moving forward you need to avoid any behavior that could get you in trouble. You will also want to avoid associating with anyone who might get themselves into trouble of their own and tarnish your reputation in the process. Make sure to pay your bills in full and on time. The key here is to avoid any new crisis – financial, legal, or moral – that will remind people of your previous problems.
3. Get back to work.
Being productive is not only good for your psyche, but also for public perception. Work to regain your confidence, but be sure to avoid anything that could create a perception of being cocky. This can mean scaling back your ambitions – or public discussion of those ambitions at a minimum – and going quietly about your business. You should try to create or reinforce the perception of yourself as reliable, honest, hardworking and trustworthy.
4. Aim for easy-going.
They say that the meek are destined to inherit the Earth. To effectively manage your reputation after a lawsuit, you want to avoid being too loud, overzealous, confrontational, or generally rambunctious. However, that does not mean you should strive to look like a push-over. Instead, let an air of quiet confidence and cautious optimism govern your behavior. Keep a level head, and avoid putting on airs.
5. Indulge in some philanthropy.
After a time, you may want to consider some small-scale philanthropic activities. Try to avoid undertaking anything that might call unwanted or excessive attention to yourself or your legal trouble. Be understated but helpful in your efforts. You may want to align yourself with a philanthropy that is somehow related to the subject of your litigation – if the role is a good fit. However, make sure that your involvement puts you on the right side of the issue, and be very careful not to look like you are only getting involved to help polish your image. The negative perception that might be generated by being seen to use a charity for personal gain will be greater than the positive impact of the philanthropy on your image.
No lawsuit or crisis is ever pleasant. Even though they may get our adrenaline running or force us to focus on efficiency, they are still extremely stressful and counterproductive. Even if we win or ultimately find ourselves vindicated, lawsuits still adversely affect public perceptions of us and our reputations. While there is some novelty found in our brief celebrity, it is quickly outlived and requires us to be far more cautious and purposeful in rehabilitating or shepherding our reputation.
For those who represent substantial interests or find themselves in the public spotlight for the wrong reasons, it can be helpful to surround themselves with professional teams to help manage their reputation after a lawsuit or other crisis. However, whether efforts are being coordinated by paid professionals or just with the help of a friend or family member, the points listed above should serve as guideposts to help rekindle a tarnished reputation or otherwise return to productivity and put the past behind us.
Author: Sara Waterson
A Suffolk native, Sara has been writing for Net Lawman after graduating at the top of her class at the University of Nottingham. She is passionate about law and seeks to educate her readers to the best of her ability. In her spare time, Sara loves to spend time walking in the local countryside with her partner and two dogs.