As a full-time permanent employee of a respected company, there would be little recompense if you were found to be bad mouthing a competitor, but as a self-employed individual, the same cannot be said. In fact, it could be career ending.
How you talk about others, as well as how you represent yourself, really impacts on the impression you give out, so whether in person or online, we think it’s vital that you remember to stay professional, honest and courteous. Think of it in these terms; speak about other people, as you would hope they are speaking about you. You might think that the quality of your work and how you come across in person should be all you need to concern yourself with, but in an age where faceless ‘keyboard warriors’ are continuously getting themselves in trouble because of their opinions, you need to make sure you have a tight grip on your thoughts so you are not banded in with them.
You need to be vigilant about your opinions in two arenas, so we have some handy hints lined up for you!
Online – From the most tech-savvy through to total beginners, you’d be surprised at how readily people seem to give their opinions about competitors on the Internet. It’s as though they think they can’t be identified, but it is shockingly easy to discover who is hiding behind an avatar these days!
Far from merely being a throwaway comment, strong opinions are forever visible and can really give a bad impression of your professionalism, so if you are asked about the credibility of someone that you think of as unprofessional, simply rise above their perceived standards and keep the moral high ground by replying with something along the lines of “I haven’t ever worked with them personally and I don’t foresee a time when I will.” If pressed further, be clear about the fact that you are unwilling to discuss someone that you know little about.
In person – It is easy to get caught up in conversations that take a turn towards being gossip, but you have to remember that you could be impacting in somebody else’s livelihood if you repeat uncorroborated snippets that you have heard or rumours. Just because you might not be someone’s biggest fan, you never know what their relationship is with other people and it would be very easy to make an unfavourable comment to the wrong person.
Try to always be focused on your own standards and making sure that nobody has any firm footing to think badly of you and let others run their businesses how they like. If they are as unprofessional as you think, they will no doubt be unsuccessful by their own volition and you will have remained an objective observer. Strive to be the person whose opinion is held in high regard and trusted, not the one who people consider to be a bad mouther or a gossiper, and your reputation will stand before you in a positive way.