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kevbo's avatar

What's a good way to negotiate ghosts of the past with respect to work and networking?

Asked by kevbo (25629points) May 29th, 2008

I’m in a transitional period with respect to work and will soon be picking up something new. During this transitional period, I dropped many of my past friends and acquaintances because I changed and began to have less and less in common with them. If I stay in my field or return to the social or networking circles of my past, then I’m likely to encounter them, which for me doesn’t feel comfortable. In other words, I feel as if my domain or potential domain is or will be crowded by people who have seen me at my worst and with whom I have little desire to humor. In my head, I realize this anxiety trip is a little silly, but without working it out, I’m sure it’ll affect my confidence and behavior. (In the past, I moved around so much that I rarely had to deal with this kind of circumstance.) So how do I negotiate this?

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8 Answers

JasonH's avatar

Can you slam a revolving door? try that!

Adina1968's avatar

Maybe some of your past acquaitances have changed too. If not then just be polite. No need to createthe idea that you want to start hanging out with them again. I wouldn’t worry about them seeing you at your worst. We’ve all been there and no one is perfect. It is who you are today that matters.

marinelife's avatar

People change and move on all the time. I think the important thing to remember is that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Prior to an encounter with or more people you are uncomfortable about, imagine the worst thing they could say to you. Then craft your response.

Build a set of stock phrases. For example, someone wants to plan a get together with you that you don’t want to see? Try your own words version of “Thanks for thinking of me, but that’s not possible for me right now.” Don’t give in to why nots. Just repeat. If necessary, say “It was great to see you again, Name. Take care of yourself.” Then just head on your way.

By rehearsing worst case scenarios, you pull their teeth as terrorizers.

I am betting this will be less of a gantlet than you imagine. People do not think about us nearly as much as we think they do. They are busy thinking about themselves.

Good luck.

MrKnowItAll's avatar

Treat them like old friends.

marinelife's avatar

Editing my response above. 1st graph, Line 2 I left out the word “one” in the phrase “with one or more people”.

Trustinglife's avatar

kevbo, my suggestion is to spend a lot of time with yourself in preparation. Meditate. Maybe use Marina’s suggestion and rehearse potential situations.

My main thought is to ground yourself in who you are now. When you see your old acquaintances, there would probably be less pull and attraction. Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

Dog's avatar

There is a saying that the best revenge is to live well.

We all have such ghosts in the form of people we wish to never run into again. Sadly the world is not big enough (I even ran into one while in NYC on business- 2000 miles away.)

The best thing to do is stand tall and proud- be, think and act professional and happy. They will no longer think of you “at your worst”

DeezerQueue's avatar

I’ve been in this very dilemma before. Because I had changed a lot during that period of time, and for the better I must say, it didn’t really matter who I came into contact with from the old crowd. Somehow I managed to handle it with a great amount of dignity and grace, and they could tell that I had changed, as well. It’s as if they were more thrown off than I anticipated that I would be.

If you’ve made positive changes in your life since then, you’ll see them in a different light this time around, kevbo (fl), and there’s nothing to fear. You’ll be gracious and not condescending, and you might find that some of them have changed, as well. You’ll take the high road and not give in to what may be intended as high handed quips. Some may in fact be jealous that you’ve changed for the better while they haven’t, and you’ll be graceful when met with that, too.

One thing that I have maintained throughout the years, is that it’s far easier for a person to change than it is for others to accept that you’ve changed, it speaks to trust and how little people have at times. It may take time for them to see and actually believe that you’ve changed; if you have, you’ll be patient with them, as well.

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