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Agnès passes for a lazy. It will not be increased. Reason given by his superior: “Insufficient involvement. One of her colleagues, to whom she confides her feeling of injustice, admits to her that she does indeed have a reputation for being lazy: “You arrive late every morning. Agnès has chosen to accompany her children to school, and she believes that she can make up for her “stolen” time by staying later in the evening.

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Pierre Blanc-Sahnoun

Pierre Blanc-Sahnoun is the author, among others, of The Art of Coaching (InterEditions, 2006). He answers your questions on every month.


Reputation is a story of image, made by a group on its members. It is used to determine the “good” and the “bad” members, those who respect, or not, the rituals and behaviors of the company. The big topic of conversation in a professional community revolves around the gap between an individual and the “right” ritual. Agnès’ colleagues have developed over time, without her realizing it, a “dominant story” about her.

The dominant story is a reputation that inflates and ends up obscuring the other aspects of a personality. When an individual is a victim of it, everything is related to it, interpreted according to it. Agnès’ colleagues say that she stays during her lunch break or later in the evening precisely because she is lazy and unable to work properly on time, like everyone else. The dominant story can turn into denigration, it creates scapegoats within a community that gives itself a good conscience at little cost.


Fight step by step against this story, let no innuendo, no joke. The victim of an unjustified reputation must relentlessly feed a “counter-story”. Evaluate the damage to this reputation, by requesting an interview with your superior to obtain facts, figures, dates, reality. Organize counterexamples. For Agnès, it will be a question of finding another solution for her children, and of arriving very early, the first, from time to time. For a person qualified as a bootlicker, it will be a question of seizing every opportunity to participate in an action between colleagues. Make sure that it is seen, that it is known, publicly.

Go back to basics, that is to say the objectives set by the company. It’s not necessarily about arriving at 8:30 am, or having lunch every day with colleagues, but rather about carrying out certain productions, being creative and competent. Renegotiate a mid-year raise. To resign oneself to not being increased is to say: “You are somewhat right.” »

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.