The Hated-Beloved Reputation
Certain people, you know the names, are not entirely hated
The perception of Elon Musk is a curious one.
“While more people dislike Musk than before, more people also like Musk than ever before," say Rani Molla and Peter Kafka, both writing at Vox.
As for how this reality can be, a YouGov survey details the finding:
People with a positive opinion of Musk, 37 percent
Those with a negative opinion of him, 23 percent
The negative opinion went up 12 points to 35 percent
The positive opinion however was up 10 points to 47 percent
So what's this really mean?
For one, reputation is not singular in perception. People don’t always realize it.
Just as Musk has his vociferous critics, he has loyal, admiring followers. He's not alone with this discrepancy about how he is perceived and judged. The same goes for Donald Trump, of course. He has legions of loyal, proud, defenders and supporters as well as the hordes of critics who detest him.
After highly accomplished country singer Morgan Wallen was condemned in the media, online and otherwise in public for getting taught on video, drunk and using a racial slur towards a friend, his career and he took some hard punches, albeit temporary but his reputation remained strong with his large number of fans who continually supported him, maybe like never before.
Johnny Depp was considered guilty as a domestic abuser by a UK court and many women yet won a defamation case in the U.S. and still has a large, supportive fan base who defend him with enthusiasm.
Think back to the late Michael Jackson. Same thing. While many people were repulsed at his alleged behavior, a significant amount of fans denounced the allegations and criticism.
In short, it is possible to retain loyal supporters even when your reputation becomes mud with a chunk of society, if your supporters love you enough and simultaneously feel that the criticism and attacks are invalid or overblown.
All this to say, Musk has more supporters than ever, according to the survey mentioned in this article, because people respect and believe in him as a visionary, engineer, businessman and respect his willingness to speak his mind. They feel he’s an easy target and stands for some or many of their values or ideals.
All that resonates and outscores, for his advocates, those who dislike or hate him for his impulsive business decisions, questionable actions in the workplace and with women, and his often cruel communication behavior.
Is there an advisory lesson here I'm attempting to offer? No. Not at all. This is instead a look at the nuance of reputation that many don't often think about.
You can't always kill off an enemy's reputation if they remain somewhat credible or largely credible in the eyes of their admirers.
I will provide a piece of advice, however, and it's this: Don't assume, recklessly I might add, that you can own a largely positive perception and get away with significant failings. That's certainly not always the case.
If you do believe this and act as if that's true, your positive reputation power might quickly suffer a direct hit, suffer badly and change overnight for the worse. Far worse.
There are people who once believed this falsehood and whose professional lives were shattered and their personal peace became trauma as they became social pariahs.
Michael Toebe writes “Reputation Notes” and is the founder and specialist at Reputation Quality, a practice that serves and assists successful people and organizations in further building reputation as an asset and responsibly, ethically protecting, restoring or reconstructing it.
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