Ways to distinguish yourself #158 – Avoid the dangerous trap: "Use and go"

During my talks, one of the question I ask is “Can you think of interacting with someone in the recent past, someone who was very nice to you until he wanted to get something out of you and once the work was complete – seems to have disappeared from the planet?”

I usually hear people say – “I can think of more than one person that fits the bill”

I follow on with another question – “What if I pose the same question to all the people that you interacted with in the last six months. Would any of them put you in this category?”

Typically there is a silence. I normally don’t expect an answer for this. It is more for people to think and reflect on how they behave. While expecting someone to behave in some way is easy, it is hard to put that thing into practice in one’s own life. This is one such case.

“Use and go” is a dangerous trap that has a very big “future opportunity cost” associated with it. Let me explain. You establish a relationship with someone with the hope of getting something done. With your charm and finesse, you get that work done and since in the near future you may not have anything to do with this person, you decide to disappear from his or her life. Not intentionally of course. You are busy and you want to invest your time where it makes most sense. From an “efficiency” point of view, it seems like a case can be made for this approach, come to think of it – it can hurt you BIG time in the long run.

Here are the reasons:

a) Any smart person will know the he or she has been “used” for your cause

b) Very rarely will the other person be “as open as before” to fulfill your requests for help. He or she may not say “No” but can come up with a great excuse as to why that may not be the “right” time for them.

c) Getting a “free ride” can become a habit for you and may hurt your other relationships

d) Most important: Any sensible person would want to protect his or her network. If this person feels that someone in their network may be taken for a “free ride” it is in the person’s best interest that he or she not connect you to anyone in their network. You have not only lost an opportunity to make any other request to this person, you ALSO LOST an opportunity to make any request to any member of this person’s network through this person.

I can go on but I think the point is already made. The cost of the “short-term advantage” you will gain by the “Use and go” attitude is not worth it.


Note 1: Here is a Squidoo lens that links to most of the previous articles in this series:
Squidoo: Distinguish Yourself

Note 2: The first 25 entries in the series have been packaged in a ChangeThis manifesto that was published on September 07, 2005. You can download that manifesto here:
ChangeThis Manifesto: 25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself (PDF, Free)

Note 3: My latest manifesto on ChangeThis was published on August 6, 2008. This is a photographic manifesto featuring 15 of my mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). Here is the link:
ChangeThis Manifesto: Mini Sagas – Bite Sized Lessons for Life and Business (PDF, Free)