Reserve Your Judgement
I love starting work with a new company. One of the things I enjoy most about a new job is meeting and getting to know new people. It’s very much in my character to thrive in these types of situations.
One of the things that never ceases to intrigue me is that sooner or later, some people take it upon themselves to give me additional background information on their colleagues I’ve met, or am about to meet. They have a feeling that I need to have my expectations set about certain people. Sadly, for the most part, this tends to be a negative opinion. So I listen to their opinions about their workmates’ work ethics, or social capability, and try to understand how they came to this impression.
Then I do my very best to forget everything they have just told me. When I do meet or work with the person in question, I like to start from a point where I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. I have to remember that it was just the opinion of another person (or persons!), but it’s unlikely that I would have been able to fully understand the context in which the negative impression was created. It’s definitely impossible for me to gain insight from the person in question regarding this negative opinion. So you can see the battle is already very unfair.
To be clear, I still do the same with people that have been given glowing reports too! For me, at least at the beginning, I see everyone on a fresh, clean slate. What they put on that slate is 100% up to them; it’s their own actions and their own words that form my opinion.
Ultimately I may indeed end up with exactly the same negative or positive impression as others, but at least it’s my opinion – and mine alone.