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

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

By Rajesh Setty on Wed 09 Aug 2006, 6:00 AM – 7 Comments

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.


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7 Comments so far, Add Yours

Anonymous  on August 9th, 2006

Great post Rajesh!

I should send this article to my former friend (if i can find how to join him).

Anonymous  on August 9th, 2006

Over the years I’ve realised how important it is to avoid the ‘use and go’ trap. But what was difficult for me is to find out easier ways of doing it. I mean how do I make sure the other person feels that he/she is not being ‘used’ for my cause. Being in constant touch and helping them for their cause are two ways to think about it. But what if the other person is uninitiated to accept help? or interact and build a network? Inspite of he/she had once offered ‘help/suggestions’ to me.

I guess it all comes by experience.

Any thoughts Rajesh?

Anonymous  on August 9th, 2006

Well said Rajesh!

But I think there are different phases in life and each in phase you interact with different set of people. Once you complete one phase, you move on and proceed to next phase. Now it can be really time consuming to stay in touch with all those people who helped you in some ways in your previous phases. When you are facing challenges of new phase, you are more likely to invest your energy into building new relations, getting right help from the right people at the right time.

My say would be, even though if you are not able to stay in touch with people who helped you for quite long time, it can be OK if you are still respecting and having high regard for those people who helped you. As long as you are giving credit to those people, you are OK. Ofcousre, if you are able to stay in touch, then that will be the GREAT. I think there is a WORSER situation than what you mentioned in your blog.

I think “use and go” is not as dangerous as “use and forget” attitude.

If you try to satisfy expectations of other people by trying to stay in touch with them, then you may also start expecting from other people whom you helped. It would be great if we can just remove this “expectation meeting” attribute. Instead if we just follow “mutual understanding” attribute, then that will help to keep the relations more healthy.

In mutual understanding, both parties know that other parties can be very busy in their own world. And if there is no interaction amongst both parties for long time after they exchanged the help, then one can console onself saying that other party is busy. But this person is also sure about the fact that when next time he/she will meet that other person, that person is going to remember him/her and will be grateful to him/her if this person has helped the other person.

So again, “use and go” is not as dangerous as “use and forget” attitude! And we should try to avoid that trap.

What says?

Anonymous  on August 10th, 2006

I guess the only thing that we need to do is always be available to help others. Sometimes you may not be the right person for advice, In those situations you need to point the seeker to the right person. This the maximum that you can do since you can’t control the thoughts and actions of others but only influenze them.

Anonymous  on August 12th, 2006


Thank you for your comment. That was a great question. I am about to complete an article (or post) related to this. Give me a few days.

More soon.



Anonymous  on August 12th, 2006

Hi Aditya,

I think the difference is mostly in the semantics. I agree that “Use and forget” is equally bad.



Anonymous  on August 12th, 2006

Hi Nabil,

I got a few emails stating almost the same thing. I think you are not alone. Have a great afternoon there.



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