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Reader’s Review, May 2012

By John D. Baker

The Power of Reputation: Strengthen the Asset That Will Make or Break Your Career

By Chris Komisarjevsky
210pp. New York, N.Y: American Management Association, 2012
Hardcover (USA) $22.00

Chris Komisarjevsky is a veteran of over 35 years experience in the field of public relations and public affairs. In that time he has served at the top management level in several global public relations. Now, he is retired from the position of chief executive officer of the public relations firm of Burson-Marsteller.

Currently, Mr. Komisarjevsky serves as the Harold Burson Professor and Chair in Public Relations at Boston University. In addition to this book, Professor Komisarjevsky and his wife, Reina, are the co-authors of the internationally popular work entitled Peanut Butter and Jelly Management, published in 2000.

The Power of Reputation is premised on Mr. Komisarjevsky’s belief that “reputation is among our most treasured and powerful assets” (p. 3). Given this as a given, the rest of Mr. Komisarjevsky’s book concentrates on how-to instruction for building, enhancing and preserving reputation.

Reputation, in Mr. Komisarjevsky’s view, is decisive in human inter-action. Quite simply, he concludes, “phonies don’t last” (p. 59).

Although Professor Komisarjevsky addresses the broad range of human activity, anyone who understands negotiating knows from experience that reputation is fundamental to every negotiator too. Liars, con artists and frauds of every stripe eventually destroy their own credibility and with it the ability to be considered players in most negotiations.

In negotiation, “phonies” do not last in most negotiating situations. Alas, however, just as in other fields, weeds continue to crop-up in even the best tended gardens. It is reputation that precedes negotiator and negotiating environments over time and sorts out the landscape. Reputation is always the negotiator’s “most treasured and powerful” asset.

So, what is the foundation of reputation? Professor Komisarjevsky explains that reputation rests upon three critical factors: character, communication, and trust. Each of these factors is examined in some detail and the author explores how each component may be enhanced by individuals to grow their reputations. It is a valuable enterprise.

I found one of the most interesting of Mr. Komisarjevsky’s sections to be one focused on preparing for meetings. Despite a steady chorus of advice to negotiators that preparation is fundamental to success, the press of other claims on time often leads to shortages in preparation for negotiation sessions. The result, of course, is less than optimum performance at the negotiation table.

The author explores the importance of preparation for meetings as an important step in building and enhancing reputation. How does careful meeting preparation lead to enhanced reputation?

Mr. Komisarjevsky suggests a wide variety of steps as essential elements in thorough planning for important meetings. Let us briefly touch on some of these planning steps as illustrative of what the reader will find on the topic.

Professor Komisarjevsky suggests using “mental rehearsal” as an essential preparatory step to future inter-actions. Many readers know and some may practice envisioning what is to come in a meeting, a performance, or a sports event. This reviewer and many readers know its importance to success.

The author moves on through a series of preparatory steps that have proved valuable in strategic and tactical planning. Among these are attempting to put yourself into others’ shoes, trying to imagine others’ arguments, and always acknowledging the opinions of others. Add to these preparatory steps, careful verification of all facts one plans to cite, clearly thought-out reasoning, and a “straight talk” presentation style and one has the making of carefully crafted success. This is the essence of the value of planning. The personal bonus of this sort of planning is the impact on your reputation. It will be enhanced by the process.

There is more here, of course, but the message is clear. Reputation is built by preparation, character, communication, and by honest encounters with others.

This is a practical book for the negotiator.


John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine (May, 2012) Copyright © 2012 The Negotiator Magazine