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Dr. Jason B. Fischer

Learning from Our Reputations

Of the many people you know—family, friends, co-workers or classmates, neighbors, the locals at your favorite restaurant or bar or café, the people who work at your most frequented stores, and everyone else who has crossed your path at one time or another—each has their own perspective about who and how you are. Some of these people know you well, while others much less so, yet all have an opinion, small or large, that has been gained through their interactions with you. In short, you have a reputation. In counseling, I’ve recently been thinking a lot about this notion of reputation, enough so that I have decided to share my thoughts about this important topic. In short, I feel that it is tremendously valuable to recognize this important truth: that we earn our reputations.

When is a Relationship Officially Over?

When people tell me that they no longer have a relationship with someone, I know this is untrue. No matter how great the gap that divides two people, no matter how vitriolic or rare their interactions, even if these interactions are basically non-existent, the truth is that the relationship persists. It may not be a great relationship or be particularly rewarding for either member, but it continues to be there, if only barely, nonetheless.

The Importance of Mutuality

When you go to the grocery store, you generally have a successful relationship with the cashier who rings you up. It’s not much of a relationship, but it is a successful one. This success occurs simply because you and the cashier share a certain mutuality. You care equally about one another, maybe not much, but equally. Since your feelings are mutual, it is easy enough for you both to share a brief and cordial exchange. Why? Because this is exactly what you both want. You want the same thing, to have this one transaction flow smoothly with a small measure of courtesy, then to both go on about your respective days, thinking no more about each other thereafter. Success.