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The Three Month Rule

Updated on April 24, 2017

This lesson was hard-won and I earnestly hope you take it to heart:

At the start of a new relationship – business or personal – do not discuss your past negative relationships until three months have passed.


Simple Isn't Easy

It is simple rule, like all important ones. And, like all simple yet important rules, it is fiendishly difficult to stick to some times. Especially when your new friend, co-worker, or boss is really interested to hear all the gory details of your past. Feel free to prattle on about all the good things, but if asked about the bad, I have found it best to politely explain that although you’ve endured some negative experiences, you are not comfortable discussing them at this time. Most people are surprising understanding and even supportive.

This Isn't Therapy

While trash-talking an ex-friend or ex-boss may feel therapeutic at the time, it puts the new person on instant alert with you. Even if you are not “trashing” the other person, the emotion of the topic will leave a lasting impression that taints your new relationship. It puts up a barrier that inhibits a natural blossoming of camaraderie. After three months, you will have established a solid enough relationship with the new person that sharing past ordeals is a bonding experience that cements your rapport with each other.

Some employers will ask you about previous bad work experiences during job interviews. This is dangerous ground! Stick to your guns. Let the interviewer know that you are not comfortable discussing the negative aspects of your past employment.

Accentuate the Positive

Whether a prospective boss, friend, or lover; if they push, you can still give them a satisfactory reply without breaking the rule. Talk about what you learned from those experiences. Talk about the good that came of it. Talk about how it inspired you to find people who will respect and value you.

If they keep pushing, politely walk away. If this person cannot respect your wishes on this topic, they’re likely to ignore your other boundaries as well.


© 2012 Rosa Marchisella


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    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 3 years ago from Canada

      Thanks, Bill :-) It's amazing how healing three months can be! I wish more people would use this rule before talking to me, some times. You'd be shocked at how many people will vent to complete strangers or someone they just met. It can uncomfortable in a work setting ... even more if you happen to agree with the person being complained about! :-O LOL

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great words of wisdom. I think we all know someone like this who feels it is necessary to air dirty laundry... I love the three month rule; hopefully in those three months the intense feelings will leave and you can speak on a more rational level.

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      Thank you!

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Those are great suggestions!

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      It can be tough some times, especially if you're still emotional about an incident, but totally worth the self-restraint! :-)

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      This is a great idea. I will make sure I don't discuss negative situations with new friends. That will certainly help get a new relationship start off on better ground.