Bad References From Previous Employer (The BEST Way To Handle It)
I’m going to tell you how to handle this & how to think about it.
By the end of the post, you’re going to feel a lot better about this situation.
So stay tuned.
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I recognize that just because somebody says something bad about you OR somebody doesn’t want to give you the greatest reference, it doesn’t mean anything about you OR that you’re a bad person OR that you’re a bad employee OR that your career is ruined OR anything like that.
But we think it does, we think we’re screwed most of the time because maybe our previous manager isn’t going to be the greatest reference and we’re kind of scared that that might ruin our possibilities for our next job.
I’m going to talk to you about a couple of examples where I’ve been you know spoken of poorly and how I handled it and what ended up happening and also one that happened with my dad and how he handled it.
Both of us got through it and it didn’t affect us so it’s totally fine.
It happens sometimes and that’s the first thing I want you to know, okay.
It’s not a big deal.
You can get past it.
You can live a very successful happy life.
It doesn’t have to be a huge detriment or big deal.
The first thing I want to talk to you about is when I’ve had an experience at work where one of my co-workers wrote an email to me that said a bunch of crazy things that I had done.
She wrote an email to me and she said, “You were sexist, you treated me badly, you said this to me, you said that to me.”
And so, when I was reading this, I was confused.
I was literally like, are you mentally stable?
Like what why are you saying this?
It doesn’t make sense, right?
That was my first thought.
And in the position that I was in, we both were on the same team.
The first thing I did was I sent that email directly to my boss.
And I said, “Hey, just so you know this is what..”, I’m going to call her Sarah ’cause I’m not going to say her real name.
I’m going to say, “This is what Sarah just sent me.”
The decision that I made was I’m going to you know to be very open with what Sarah has written ’cause that’s a fact the email, that she sent me and then I very carefully chose how to think about it at the time which was anybody that knows me, knows what’s true about me.
Anybody that meets me will know what’s true about me and it doesn’t matter what anybody else says, they can be wrong about me and I have to let them ’cause they’re entitled to their thoughts and their feelings and that was very helpful thought.
What ended up happening was my boss read the email, she initially, she was like, “Okay, so we need to sit down and have a talk.”
Long story short, the woman who wrote the email, Sarah was let go.
In the end, Sarah didn’t just write that email to me that was a little bit weird.
She did some other weird things too, and eventually, her result was that she was let go and it was no longer a problem for me.
And I’ve had maybe one other situation in my career where this has happened.
One of my employees accused me of stalking her and again, I couldn’t control that she had said that.
I could just control how I chose to think and my thought was anybody that knows me, knows that I wouldn’t do that.
Anybody that knows me knows that’s not true, right.
And so, while it can be very infuriating to have somebody say these things about you OR you know you think they might say them if they were to call up for a reference OR something, you can’t control what they say, right.
When we are stressed and have anxiety about what someone else is saying or might say, we’re trying to control reality.
When we try to control reality we lose 100% of the time, that’s a Byron Katie quote.
That’s the first thing to recognize.
If somebody’s going to say bad things about you, they’re going to say bad things about you and there’s nothing that you can do to control that.
Talking to them and asking them not to is probably not going to make a difference OR you would have done that already.
They think what they think and they believe what they believe and they’re in their own head and that is all their business.
Then you just need to focus on what you can do and how you can be and show up as the most powerful person despite whatever they might say about you.
That’s what I did.
In both of those situations, I didn’t freak out.
I didn’t say, “Oh my god, she’s crazy and I didn’t accuse her of lying OR anything.”
I just continued with my mantra of anybody that knows me, anybody that meets me, knows these things are not true and I believe that in my heart and both cases turned out that both of those people were let go.
And both of those people, it was realized like they created the result on their own where they were let go because other people saw that they were a little bit off with what they were thinking and believing.
That is how I have chosen to manage those situations in the past when somebody is saying something bad about me.
It made me feel very empowered when I was able to say those things to myself and to anybody else.
So, I said that’s my boss.
I said, “Look, you know me, we’ve worked together for four years. You know me. Do you think this is true?”
Like she said, “No, I would like to understand why she’s saying these things. That’s where I came from and I hope that that could be useful for you. And if it’s related to a job then I’m going to explain to you some ways that you can get around this. “
The second thing is when you decide to be very grounded in who you are and who you’re being.
Then you get to focus your energy on you instead of where we normally want to go which is to control the situation, to be like: “Oh, I have to tell them not to call this person OR you know, I have to tell this person not to say about things about me OR maybe I can’t even apply for the job ’cause I can’t put a supervisor name down.”
Like your brain starts to go in all these directions where you become at the effect of that circumstance.
You think you don’t have a choice and that’s where I want to empower you to see your other options in the situation.
Grounded in yourself is probably the most important thing you could be.
Who do you want to be when somebody else is saying those things about you?
Who do you want to be?
Do you want to be the person that reacts, calls them crazy tells, them that they’re lying, flies off the handle, reacts?
OR do you want to be the grounded person who’s like, that’s ridiculous, anybody who knows me knows I would never do that?
When it comes time to interview for a job and you believe that your previous supervisor might not give you the best reference, you do not have to put that supervisor down as a reference.
You can put another supervisor down as a reference, that’s one option.
I mean there’s no law.
And in the interview, you want to show up as this person who is so genuine, so authentic and so eager and willing to help.
This person whose being is so amazing that they wouldn’t believe this reference if they did need to speak to this person.
If somebody wants to hire you, they are going to make excuses in their head, they’re going to justify wanting to work with you or wanting to hire you.
If you show up and you are this person who is so authentic, so genuine, so interested in what they are doing, so interested in helping them get to their goals and achieve their results and they believe you can do that and they believe you’re the right person.
And then they talk to somebody and this person says, “Oh, this person’s awful, they’re terrible, blah blah blah.”
They’ve made a connection with you already.
They’ve had a personal connection with you, they know you.
They don’t know this other person.
Your connection with the interview has to be stronger than anything anybody could say about you.
You might think that’s not possible but it completely is because you have more of an influence over how they think about you than somebody that they just have a five-minute conversation with.
And also, normally, when somebody’s saying bad things about somebody else, it actually makes that person look bad.
You have to trust in the people that you are going to work with, the people that are wanting to hire you to make the right decision based on who you are and how you show up and how you present yourself.
Now, if you can put another supervisor’s name OR even drown it out with good references, that’s going to say a lot too.
If you have to put that supervisor’s name down but you can put five other people who have glowing references, maybe you can print out LinkedIn references that say great things about you, maybe you can drown out one bad reference into a whole bunch of really good references.
That’s what my dad did.
My dad owns a furniture company called the English Cabinet Maker.
He builds custom furniture and he’s been doing this for 20 years.
But anyway he was driving his truck and obviously his truck is very promotional on it says the English Cabinet Maker.
It’s this old van. He cut someone off in traffic one time and he didn’t mean to.
This guy got so mad at him, he pulled up beside him when there was an opportunity on the road and he looked at my dad and my dad was trying to say sorry to him so he was turning about, sorry but the guy thought that my dad was like trying to swear at him.
It was a big miscommunication.
Anyway, so the guy went and wrote a one-star review on Google for my dad.
And my dad was so like, “I didn’t mean to cut him off. I have tried to apologize, it didn’t work.”
You know like total misunderstanding but now the world just sees this one-star review about my dad’s furniture.
My dad was like, “Well, how can I get rid of this? Like how can I eliminate this off my page? I don’t want this here.”
Upon looking further, every piece of advice out there was to drown it in high reviews, drown it in five-star reviews.
He worked on that and now he has an abundance of five-star reviews.
And because that happened, he now has a way better reputation online than he ever would have.
And that was a misunderstanding.
My dad’s not a bad cabinet maker because one crazy guy in traffic misunderstood him, right?
It’s not the end of the world.
There are things you can do and the most important thing is who are you being and how are you showing up.
And if somebody can’t see that in you, then somebody else will and you have to have that belief, in yourself, in your ability.
And there are lots of situations where people were not the right fit for a particular role, they didn’t do the right thing, they weren’t in a good fit, they weren’t ready like I’ve had situations like that.
And now I can look back and be like, oh, I totally understand why that person you know didn’t have any patience for me, I was inexperienced like I can totally get that.
It doesn’t mean that now I’m a terrible employee.
It doesn’t mean now that that is anything to do with my ability to perform for the future in a new role OR in a new situation.
It has nothing to do with that.
We have to keep that in mind and stay grounded in who we are as a person.
And then that negative reference is just on the person who wants to give a negative reference and if that person is going to give you a negative reference, that is on them, that is their choice to do that.
You can control who you are being and how you are showing up and if you are showing up consistently well, you will have a lot of people willing to vouch for you positively and that will be enough for you to succeed.
And even if you don’t have a ton of people, you show up powerfully enough and in the headspace of helping and service and intentionality, you will be able to overcome any negative reference or anything negative that anybody says about you.
And people make their own opinions.
So, if you see somebody on YouTube saying that my videos suck, you can make your own decision about whether you think that’s true or not.
You can listen to one person’s comment OR you can listen to a whole bunch of other people who have said thank you and who are wonderfully helped by the videos.
They can make their own decision about you. They don’t have to rely on somebody that they talk to for five minutes that they don’t really know.
And even if this person is in a high up position, if they are going to give a negative reference, that is on them.
That’s what I have for you my friends on that topic.
Negative references are not the end of the world.
There are strategies you can use.
Ground yourself in who you are.
Commit to showing up as the best person you can be.
Be in intentionality, in service.
Drown it in good references.
If you understand yourself and you are so clear in the fact that you were the right person for the role and that you can help and your abilities and your capabilities, then you will not have a problem with negative references.
I’ve seen my clients overcome negative references.
They are not the be-all and end-all and if you are willing to take this information that I’ve taught, you today you will be much farther ahead.
My name is Natalie Fisher. I’m a career mindset coach. I help people navigate all these little things.
I invite you to sign up for my free training, it’s called Get a Better Job in 30 days.
Check out the link below to get that workshop.
In this workshop:
- We’re going to go over the opportunities and how to get infinite opportunities, so you’ll never have to worry about where you are getting your next opportunity from.
- You going to find out how to crush your interviews and how to focus on what you can control to nail those interviews.
- Also, how to get a win no matter what, how to feel likeable, so whether they like you or they don’t, how you’re still going to feel intact, and how you’re still going to feel confident in yourself to keep going to ultimately get to your goal.
- We’re going to talk about mastering salary negotiations so that you can make the money that you want to make over the course of your lifetime. We’re talking five, ten years out, what is it that you want to be doing.
- You’re probably thinking pretty small right now if you’re like most people. I want to challenge you to think bigger.
- And the last thing we’re going to talk about setting up your promotion, so, the things you need to be focused on right now in order to get where you actually want to go.
If you’re interested in that, click the link below, you can get it immediately, you just have to enter your information, and It’ll be in your inbox.
I also give away the exact resume and cover letter that accomplishes the exact result even during the COVID pandemic.
The economy has nothing to do with your results, that’s all right in here and I’m here to help.
I know it’s possible.
I’ve seen it.
And it’s possible for you too, you just haven’t figured it out yet and that’s okay.
You will, okay.
It just depends on how committed you are, how badly you want to do it, and how badly you are willing to be open to new ideas to figure it out.
Do you know one person who could benefit from the information in this post? If so, do your friend a favor and share this info with him/her.
And remember, the current system isn’t perfect, but you can outsmart it. I’m here to prove to you that you do have what it takes.
I’ll see you next time and I can’t wait!
In Work & Life
I’ve got your back
– XO Natalie