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Archive for December, 2012

“Where I Used to Work…”

You’re at work having a meeting and/or engaged in a conversation with a coworker. You may be discussing an approach you are taking to solving a problem.

You may be relating an experience you had with a problem customer or colleague.

And then it starts.

“Let me tell you about what we did where I used to work…” or “Where I used to work we never had that problem.” or “I’m trying to remember what we did where I used to work…”

Nobody has to say a word for you to know what they’re thinking. People begin staring at the floor. Or maybe their eyes roll as if to say, “Oh no not again.”

What’s the Big Deal?

Imagine you’re at dinner with your date. You’re having a perfectly nice time. You order a bottle of wine to go with dinner. “Oh, Sam (or Sarah) didn’t think that wine went well. They would always order the Merlot.”

Suddenly a good evening turns bad as you are joined by the Ghost of Relationships Past.

Or imagine you come home, look at the mantel and find a picture of your spouse with an old flame.

Nothing like a third wheel to wreck the evening.

That’s what it can feel like to coworkers when you evoke the name of your former employer over and over.

The Message You Are Sending

When you compare your present employer’s behavior to those of past employers, you are often giving the impression that they are somehow lacking something your other employer possessed.

You are also telling them you may not have emotionally separated from your former place of business.

You are, in essence, holding the people in the place you now work to a standard they did not ask or need to be compared. In doing so, you may be communicating that they are falling short of a certain standard set by your former place of business.

Consider This

If what is written here applies to you, you may have one of two typical responses:

“But all I’m trying to do is help.” That’s not helpful.

“Yes, I do it, but not very often.” How often you do it is a perception that may have little to do with how many times you mention the way things used to be.

It’s OK to think about how things used to be. It’s even OK to want things to be different.

What is not OK is to express it.

And what is really not OK is to compare, especially when doing so is perceived as being critical of your current employer.

So, beginning today, stop mentioning your old place of business. If you want to keep the plaque you won as employee of the year at Ajax Associates, that’s fine. It’s like displaying an old trophy.

If you want to display The Ajax Code of Conduct, that’s probably less OK. You now work at XYZ and should be displaying their Code of Conduct.

They don’t have one? Maybe you can suggest they develop one.

Comparing your present place of business to an old “corporate flame” is seldom a good idea.

It says you’re still a member of an old team.

If you’re not careful, it might well be a team you could be invited to rejoin.

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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488