Have you noticed — in your personal life or in your work life — when someone is cut loose or leaves of their own mind how that person heading away is usually demonized by those left behind?
Is that demonization a necessary means to restore order caused by the one leaving or is that character assassination merely a frivolous attempt to fill the hole created by the one who left by those who remain?
Why is it so hard to stay neutral and wish someone well without having to mock them behind their back later or cloak them in a veil of evil in order to move forward?

12 Comments

  1. I’ve been lucky to work in places where that hasn’t happened.
    I’ve noticed that when people leave, no matter how large their personality or how much they contributed, after a week or so, it is almost like they were never there after work gets shifted around to the remaining people.
    Most of the places where I’ve worked have been set up to allow anyone to quickly get up to speed with anything that is going on in the office, i.e. files are kept in a central location and all records are put into a computer system, so that work can go on while people are out of the office for hearing, etc.
    The courts in larger cities are set up like this so that many standard cases can go on, even if any particular judge is unavailable.
    This type of set up makes it really easy for the institution to continue the work when someone leaves.
    It proves that we aren’t as indispensible as we might think.

  2. I agree no one is indispensable, Chris. That is an excellent point!
    I wonder if the more creative people and places — where the idea is the thing instead of the law or a tangible product for distribution and purchase — leans more into the demonization of former loves and workers?
    There is a certain essence in that atmosphere that constantly tempts fate and failure and any perceived negative imbalance in that milieu seems to demand the sort of action I mentioned today.

  3. I suspect that a certain amount of movement is expected in my “industry.”
    The people who work in power firms in big cities seem to end up moving to new jobs in a couple of years, unless they make partner. I suspect the stress of long hours forced by billing requirements isn’t made up for by the higher pay.
    The same thing happens in the suburbs and smaller areas. People move around to gain new experience or stay because they are happy (or were made a partner).
    There’s a track that some new attorneys seem to follow: work for the prosecutor, go out on their own and starve for a while, get hired by a place, move to another place, then hang their own shingle after gaining some experience.
    Even the big power firms seem to always be in constant change as partners come and go.
    I’m pretty happy where I am, so I’m planning on sticking around. 🙂

  4. I think I have seen more demonization of management then I have of coworkers who have left. Sometimes there is even talk of why can’t the rest of the group be like the one that chose to leave.

  5. AS’ comment makes me think about the time when I was working at the grocery store.
    People often demonized co-workers who advanced into management. There was a sense of resentment that someone who was once doing their job is now a boss and making more money.
    Sometimes advancement can make someone into an “enemy.”

  6. That’s an interesting take, AS, and I’m glad you stepped up to share your thoughts with us today.
    Perhaps my viewpoint is too specific to the Creative Arts where one vision leads a band of followers — or a single creative idea from a worker can salvage a purpose and a dream. When the idea people leave they are always disparaged and made to rot in the minds of those who once loved and respected them. It’s a sad thing to behold.

  7. I cannot relate to work practices – I am a one woman band – however in social circles it is almost always a transference of loss – in other words it is a mechanism by which those left behind cope with the loss and put the absent one down to make the feel better.

  8. Nicola!
    That’s precisely what I’m getting at today — it doesn’t have to be work related — it can be a moving away from a neighborhood or a friendship or a school.

    it is almost always a transference of loss

    Perfect!
    THANK YOU!