Throwing Out Old Files

The company where I work uses the phrase, “Throw out old files” to mean something other than throwing away old papers.  The phrase is used to refer to eliminating perceptions of others we may have from past dealings with them.

How many times have you worked with someone that didn’t work out well?  The person may have been difficult to accept new ideas or rude in meetings.  Whatever the case, you have perceptions about this person and now you don’t look forward to working with them.

A second phrase jumps out, “Self fulfilling prophecy.”  If a person goes into a working relationship with thoughts of not wanting to work with another person and it will be troublesome, it usually ends up troublesome.

To combat this, people should try to “throw out old files” they have on a person.  Start new and give the person a chance.  The person may behave in the same manner as you have seen in the past, but giving them a chance gives everyone a chance to succeed.  Many times people do behave differently.  Maybe circumstances outside of work have changed for the person or circumstances at work, putting them in a better state of mind.

Throwing out old files is not an easy thing to do.  Especially, if the person keeps behaving in the same manner over and over again.  But you may be surprised as to how many people you can get a long with and even become friends with once old files are thrown out.

Posted on November 14, 2011, in People and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. We would all be better off if everyone practiced “throwing out old files”. How many times has something done in the past come back to haunt a person when they try to get a promotion or a new job? With all the social media which can capture everyone’s stupidity, more ane more people are going to want others to “throw out the old files”.

    Also, I have found that if I do overlook something that has happened in the past when I work with someone again, they seem to put more effort into the current project because of the second chance. This may not work every time, but we all appreciate it when something from the past is not held against us today.

  2. It is like a physician with great medical insight into a condition but a lousy bedside manner.

    I am reminded of a colleague who I worked with for many years. I always knew that when interacting with Ron his immediate response would be “no” in an almost dismissive manner; but after discussing the issue we would generally be in accord. The key here was one had to appreciate his creativity and analytical skills while anticipating and looking beyond his interpersonal skills. To be turned off by his initial response would be to miss valuable insights.

    • Good point, Bruce. I was facilitating a kaizen event one time with someone sitting in to observe. At the end of the day, she asked “Don’t you just want to slap them when they are whining like that?” My response was that I listen to what they are saying, not necessarily how they are saying it. Sometimes when an associate is passionate about their job, they can come across differently than they intend and they don’t even realize how they sound to others. We need to move beyond the personality traits and get to the root of the matter.

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