Back in the prehistoric days, if people wanted to label something, they used this torture device called a Label Maker. You had to squeeze the handle to emboss each letter and at the end the label maker would spit out a plastic sticky label and your hand would need a splint. Misspellings could eat up half your life. Now label makers use high-tech keypads and digital readouts.
You know why label makers didn't go away, they just became better? Because people are label-crazy. Labeling is how they make sense of things. They separate the world into categories so they can understand it more easily.
The bad part of this is that people like to label other people as much as they like to label objects. I'm not saying somebody's going to slap a plastic sticky label on your forehead sometime soon, but, rest assured, you will be labeled in some way. If you're labeled as a person who gets things done, then that's great. But what do you do if the label is wrong and/or negative?
If the label is bad, it's very hard to get rid of. At work, it can cost you business opportunities and job promotions. Here are some ways suggested by eHow on how to deal once you suspect you have inadvertently earned a label at work:
- Assess the substance of the bad reputation. Is there any truth to it? Or are you the victim of jealousy or whiners?
- Seek a second or third opinion from trusted colleagues to determine if there is any validity to your bad reputation.
- Reconsider your managerial style if you are in a position of leadership. Could you make subtle changes? Are you a good communicator and listener? Do you give clear instructions? Are raises overdue?
- If you determine that you need to improve a personal attribute, make a commitment to yourself to change your ways. Perform one act every single day that counteracts your bad reputation.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.