Sunday, July 04, 2010

Economics @ Home © Volume 2 Issue 13

When In Need

It is funny how we take so many things that we have for granted, only to realize their importance after we have lost them. But that is not what I am trying to discuss today. We go through stages of our lives meeting all sorts of different people and we make their acquaintance and before we know it, we become great friends.

However, when we prepare to move to our next stage in life, we are sometimes forced to leave these people behind. That is probably still acceptable but sometimes, we burn the bridge after we cross it. Just because we are moving on to the next stage of our lives, it does not mean that we can mistreat the people in our past. Of course, mistreating does not have to be in the form of abuse or ill-treatment. It could be something as simple as not expressing the gratitude towards that person's friendship and the things that he (or she) did for you.

I will give two examples of what burning the bridge means. In the first case, consider a couple who has recently broken up because the girl has lost her feelings for him. During the course of their relationship, the guy has helped her in every crisis one can imagine. But now that the period of her crisis is almost over, she decides to find a better guy instead. In spite of the hurt that the guy has to go through, he acquiesced to her request that they remain as friends. For starters, how the guy pretends not to hurt every time he sees her is a mystery to me.

However, months later, he realizes that the girl is only keeping him at his side because she knows how helpful he can be when she is in great need of help. Other than contacting him when she was in need of help, she has absolutely no care about his well-being and how he was moving on with his life. She still behaved like everything in the world revolves around her. She even had the nerve to tell him that they can't be friends if he can't let her go, not remembering that in the first place, it was upon her request that they remained as friends.

I strongly believe in the good of everyone. Given the opportunity, every person has good intentions. One can remember similar proposals from Jean Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher during the Enlightenment period. But when that guy realized how someone he loved so much had taken the things he did for granted in such an insulting way, he almost swore off helping anyone ever again. I suppose the key word here is "almost". After coming to his senses, he decided only to swear off helping people who do not deserve it, especially the likes of his ex-girlfriend.

The second scenario is less dramatic, but no less important. At some point in our lives, we may or may not contemplate a change of occupation. One of the most common reasons is job dissatisfaction. Some people find the job too stressful, the benefits too little, and the management too stupid. For some reason or other, it all begins with a simple misunderstanding. I explained the issue of the kind of snowballing that begins with a small problem. Nonetheless, the story was in another context, but the same principles apply (see Econ @ Home Volume 2 Issue 11: Of Mountains and Molehills). That's why the same solution applies. The key to prevent making mountains out of molehills is simply communication.

Nonetheless, for whatever reason, when some people leave the company that they were working for, they feel the need to be as destructive as they can. Not only do they stop caring about their jobs, they do not meet their deadlines and do not feel the need to maintain the quality that was required in the first place, simply because they are leaving the company. Of course, you may ask, "Why should I do this?". While it may appear like there is nothing to gain from your efforts, you are forgetting that the company is still paying for your services and it is only your responsibility to facilitate the transition process as much as possible. So because of the stubbornness of some people, they refuse to complete their task and act high and mighty simply because they think they will be compensated if they were to be fired. This is the kind of attitude that Malaysians have developed because of its rigid labor laws, but that is a story for another day.

So, their insolence would be considered as burning the bridge and little do they know that when they start applying for their next job, as they are about to fill up the application form, there is a section called "References". Since you burned the bridge when you crossed it, who are you going to list as your references now?

While some companies may not need any references, especially when the applicant is a young fresh graduate with little experience, as they progress through their career, references become more and more important, as your transcript becomes less so.

There are simply no benefits to burn the bridge when you cross it, unless something really really bad is chasing after you. Is something chasing after you?

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