was my lifesaver. As a kid who didn’t like or know how to tie her shoes (still don’t), I only wore shoes with the patented hook-and-loop fastener. I could slips my feet into shoes, press the two strips together and voila, I was ready. Problem was that Velcro attracted everything. I was constantly picking lint and other debris from the two strips. Aside from the day I took the shoes out of the box, I never had
clean, pristine fasteners again.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about crises and Velcro reputations recently. I teach in this area, and the recent list of crises have been topics in my graduate and undergraduate classes and within my circle of colleagues:
The list could go on and on. I am always pulled back to Coombs’ arguments about the Velcro and halo effects.
The halo effect is the tendency for some positive attribution of a company to remain with the company subsequently….The Velcro effect is the tendency for negative attributions to stick to a company because of negative performance history. As Coombs and Holladay write, “A performance history is like Velcro; it attracts and snags additional reputational damage.” (Zaremba, 2010, p. 37)
I never realized that these terms could be applied to people until today. Our past performances can dictate who and what we are. And that past dictates the future.
Yet you can recover from a Velcro reputation. Just like you can clean Velcro for better results, you can renew your reputation for a better life. You have to take responsibility for your own reputation, and the sages since the dawn of time have given advice on how to do that: Turn the beat around. Own your issue. Own your history. Address the wrongs and make amends. Lean into the discomfort. Forgive and forget. Forge a new path. Follow your bliss. Do you, keep on pushing, and get yours. Be grateful.
You may never return to the perfect Velcro strips that come fresh off the line or out of the box. But you’re rid of the detritus clinging to you.