The Three Month Rule
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.
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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.
Notes to My Younger Self
This is an excerpt from my book, Notes to My Younger Self: A Guide to Personal Happiness.
Other sample chapters from this book:
- There’s a Reason You’re Attracting Losers
- 4 Steps to Help You Love and Respect Yourself More
- What it Really Means to Honour Someone
- Freeing Yourself From the Influences of Harmful Relatives
© 2012 Rosa Marchisella