You know the phrase “Cut off your nose to spite your face”?  Basically it means reacting in a way that hurts you way more than it does the person you are aiming at and doing yourself harm in order to make a point.   This happens a lot in the heat of the moment when we don’t stop to think about it and we decide to ‘take a stand’ or ‘stand on principle’ to show someone something.  Most of the time it backfires as we end up the loser both with them and with ourselves.  Sometimes its easy to walk away from such situations, sometimes it’s not and sometimes it takes having to go back, apologize, and try things again in order to make it right.

Over the past few months I have seen some of this and just shake my head.  People have jobs that are paying the bills.  Some are in positions that are careers for them, others are in jobs that are actually making them better money than they have ever had before.  But all are making progress in their lives and beginning to reach personal goals.  Then the problems start.  Management or supervisors do something they don’t like.  Not to be too flippant, I was a corporate manager myself, but management will always do something or many somethings that employees don’t like.  It could be personality conflicts, management style issues, idiocy, edicts from upper management, or many other things.  And it could be a mixture of these ingredients which makes it even more fun.  But in any case, management will do something, sometimes daily, that makes employees have a more difficult time doing their job, enjoying their job, or being effective at their job.  So what to do?

There are three very basic, general responses to this situation:

A.  Stick it out, try to make things better or ignore it and just keep working.
B.  Stick it out while trying to find another job.
C.  Quit.

In this economy a lot of people will be choosing A & B.  Money trumps everything else when you have to put food on the table and you don’t have other options readily available.  And right now options aren’t readily available for a great many people.

However C is what I keep hearing about lately.  People choosing C, being loud and proud about why and then scrambling to figure life out.  Now, I can’t say this is not the best choice for a person depending on the situation since I myself have said “Take this job and shove it” and walked away.  I have used option C in a couple of instances and option B in another.  I have to say that option B feels much more smugly satisfying and financially sound, but option C was liberating as well and I don’t regret it.  The thing is, I ate canned beans for a while, bounced a couple of checks (ouch) and actually bought lottery tickets to see if I could make it to the end of the month.  The economy was fine then, I got a new job rather quickly and was on my feet within weeks.  Did my stance change anything at those organizations?  Not really.  It made a couple of ripples in a couple of people’s lives and was quickly forgotten.  Could I have done different things that would have made more lasting impacts and possibly changed things, yes.  I figured that out after the fact.  Lessons learned.  Do they make great stories at parties and gripe sessions at the pub? Yep.  🙂

But now is just a tad different from then.  Jobs are hard come by, it’s an employer’s market, and prices are due to get even higher for so many things due to the drought this summer.  So why cut off your nose to spite your face right now?  I think it’s a clash between identity and reality.  Defining yourself through boundaries and morals and ethics and standards is great.  Standing up for your principles and for right action is appropriate.  Saying “I’m outta here because you suck!” feels wonderful and does make a splash.  And usually we get approbation and regard from our peers and friends for doing it.  But that doesn’t last.  So what have you become, what good have you created, what benefit to the universe, yourself and everyone else has come about by your taking a stand?  Time will tell but probably none.  So when you’re in a situation that you ‘just can’t take’ any more, think about what you’ll do when you put it down and what you can do to make it better right now other than cut off your nose.  Because you can take almost anything when you have to.  And the best revenge is success gained the right way through right action.