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Submitted by xcelerator on


 One of the least effective phrases that I hear a lot is "When I worked for 'Company X' we implemented SAP a different way - or - our CRM system tracked information way better - or - this is the report we used - or - " ... you get the idea. I've caught myself saying this. We say it under the mistaken premise that it somehow lends more credence to an idea or a different way of doing things. It's a mistake because anyone listening to it is thinking "here we go again" -or- "but we don't want to be Company X". The irony is that the merits of your idea are lost; the audience zones out as soon as you start.

Think about it ... have you ever heard someone (or you) start a point like this and the reaction is "Wow, you're right, if Company X is doing it, we should too!!!" Not hardly.

Let your ideas stand on their own. Get over the lack of self-confidence that causes you to need validation by referencing back to a previous company. Use feedback to help your directs avoid the same plague.

By the way, when I hire a new manager from outside my firm, this is part of the 'fit-in' discussion I have with the new hire. If you're a newly hired manager, it can kill you really quickly with your directs, in spite of your best intentions!

Solitaire's picture

Another option is to say "in my experience".
I try to say "in my experience" instead, when I find the "when I used to work for Company X" phrase stuck in my mind!

naraa's picture
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 Xcelerator, I just want to say I fully agree with your post.  Great recommendation.

The same thing applies for foreign people when they say something like: "In X Country we do not do it this way.  We do it this way."

I have done that myself before I learn that while I said it to share things can be done differently, people perceive it a superiority feeling comment, and it happens exacty how you say it: the audience zones out.  Also it is a comment that is not true, because we cannot hope to know, based on our limited experience, the way things are done everywhere in the other country.  

So I agree with Solitaire, it is much better to say: "I have had experience doing it this way."  Or simply provide the new option with no need to say it is based on experience as it could also be just a new idea that could work just fine too!

Sometimes the  sentence "In my experience" can also come across as an implication that we are somehow superior than the other because we have had an experience that they haven´t had.  Sometimes, depending on the situation, I find that it is best to share the  details of the experience so the other person can learn too.  For example rather than saying: "In my experience this painting product has not have a good performance", say "I have used this product in two prior occasions and the performance of the product is highly dependent on the application procedure.  The application is very  difficult and if the application is not properly done, the product tends to fail."

mfinc1fmt's picture

Totally agree with this post

What I start off with is a simple saying "my motto is anyone can throw stones, It takes brains to throw solutions/options"

So how can we make this better...

Other options are "I would like to understand how we can do this better..." or I usually lead or facilitate a group of people to outline how it can work better. After outlining a new solution, I would encourage them to look at it differently.

Be careful in using "in my experience..." as it could come off too "high and mighty".

So I usually alternate with two items "In my experience" and "Talking to other organizations, they do..."