How to Create, Build and Protect a Fearsome Negotiating Reputation

Thomas Edison, considered the inventor who harnessed electricity, originally believed that the best way to harness electricity was to use a direct current (DC).

When the Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla appeared to have succeeded in creating a system based on alternating current (AC), Edison was furious.

Edison determined to ruin Tesla’s reputation. He determined to make the public believe that the AC system was inherently unsafe–and Tesla irresponsible for promoting it.

To this end Edison captured all kinds of household pets and electrocuted them to death using an AC current.

When this wasn’t enough, in 1890 he got New York State prison authorities to organize the world’s first execution by electrocution, using an AC current. But Edison’s electrocution experiments had all been with small creatures. The charge was too weak, and the man–only half killed.

In perhaps the country’s cruelest state-authorized execution, the procedure had to be repeated.

It was an awful spectacle.

This is not the kind of reputation you want to follow you into any sales or negotiation setting.

Although in the long run it is Edison’s name that has survived, at the time his campaign damaged his own reputation more than Tesla’s.

So he backed off.

The lesson is simple–never go too far in attacks like these in negotiations, for that will draw more attention to your own vengefulness than to the person you are slandering.

There are better ways to build a fearsome reputation.

How to Create Your Fearsome Negotiating Reputation

Your reputation is critical. There is no exception to this law. You must build it, layer by layer, maintain it and protect it. Then it will proceed you in any negotiation.So you have to start at the foundation.

Since we must live and work in society and must depend on the opinions of others, there is nothing you can gain by neglecting your reputation.

By not caring how you are perceived, you let others decide this for you.

Back in October, the New York reported on online reputation management:

“There is all type of damage by miscreants on the Web to a business,” said Marc S. Friedman, chairman of the intellectual property practice at Sills Cummis Epstein & Gross in Manhattan. “The number of methods depends only on the creativity of the wrongdoer.”

While you shouldn’t shoot for stifling constructive criticism, you should definitely be the the master of your fate. And also of your reputation.

In the social realm, appearances are the barometer of almost all of our judgments, as a Chinese University of Hong Kong discovered a few years ago.

And you must never be misled into believing other wise. This is the reason for the supreme importance of making and maintaining a reputation that is of your own creation.

Sustainable reputation optimization requires going back to the root cause of what influences people’s opinion of you and what creates the buzz–whether online or offline–about you.

Then you must figure out how to set the conversation in the right direction.

The solution here may have less to do with paid media [read: billboards, banners and ballyhoo] than with such foundations as customer service, education, Web infrastructure, and personal mission and philosophy

If you think you can build a fearsome reputation with gimmickry, manipulation, or next-day PageRank, you’d better think twice.

And your blog, while it might allow you the opportunity to dialogue about how you’d like people to think about you, will only go so far if there’s isn’t a compelling, credible message.

It better be a message that bloggers can’t pick apart by comparing (via hyper links) disconnects between what you say and what consumers actually experience.

How to Build Your Fearsome Negotiating Reputation

In the beginning, you must work to establish a reputation for one outstanding quality, whether generosity of honesty or cunning.

This quality sets you apart and gets other people to talk about you. You then make your reputation known to as many people as possible. Step back, and watch it spread like wildfire.

A solid reputation increases your presence and exaggerates your strengths without having to spend much energy.

As they say, your reputation inevitably precedes you, and it it inspires respect. A lot of your work is done for you before you arrive on the scene, or utter a single word.

How to Protect Your Fearsome Negotiating Reputation

Reputation is a treasure to be carefully collected and hoarded. Today, this afternoon or tonight: take the time to discover what you will be known for.

[It helps, if you haven’t already, to get to know yourself through a profile test like Myers-Briggs. You can learn your Myers-Briggs profile free here.]

Make your reputation simple and base it on one sterling quality. This single quality–efficiency say, or leadership–becomes a kind of calling card that announces your presence and places others under a spell.

Then take the time to cultivate it. This happens slowly: steady but sure.

And remember, avoid Edison’s mistake: always take the high road when it some to reputation and never appear desperate or vengeful in your self-defense.

Never transgress this law. Learn to protect yourself from hurtful rumors. Confront people. Blog or post a response. Trademark your name.

And if all else fails, initiate legal action. But take action to protect the reputation you’ve so tenderly cultivated.

Like Jesus said, “When among the wolves, act like a sheep but play sly like a snake.” [Rough paraphrase. Forgive me.]

Ancient Observance of a Fearsome Reputation

Robert Green tells a fascinating story about a Chinese general who uses his reputation during China’s War of Three Kingdoms to avoid certain death.

General Chuko Liang of the forces of the Shu Kingdom dispatched his army to a distant camp while he rested in a small city. He kept with him only 100 soldiers.

In no time scouts returned shouting that an enemy army of over 150,000 troops was just over the hill.

Without wasting time Liang told his soldiers to fling the city gates open and to go hide. He put on a Taoist robe, grabbed a lute, lit some incense and sat on top of the highest wall, strumming and chanting away.

Minutes later he could see the massive army approaching, swarming the countryside. Pretending not to notice, Liang continued to strum.

Soon the army stood at the town gates. At its head was Sima Yi, who instantly recognized the man on the wall.

As his soldiers itched to enter the unguarded city, Sima hesitated, held his men back and eventually retreated.


Chuko Lian was commonly known as the “Sleeping Dragon.” His exploits were legendary. His reputation proceeded him. And Sima figured it was a trap.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the real estate marketing Blog.

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