View Full Version : Selfless vs. Selfish

2010-02-16, 04:25 AM
So something I hoped wouldn't come up kinda came up today.

Last week one of my superiors at work got fired for screwing something up pretty royal (I was told in confidence what it was, but I didn't understand most of it and forgot the rest). I've actually been waiting for something like this to happen so I could move in and get the promotion. However, one of my co-workers wants the position as well and she quite frankly needs it more than I do. After finding this out, I decided to keep my mouth shut and let her have it if she can get it. Since I have a good idea that if I apply then I'll almost definitely get it (do to seniority and probably a few other things as well), I didn't want to ruin her chances.

So today, the GM (that's general manager:smallwink:) calls me into the office and tells me to apply. I brought up that the other girl (I say 'girl' but she's somewhere around 30) was wanting the position and before I could get to the part of why I kinda wanted to see if she could do it, I got shot down and, in not so many words, told that "at the end of the day, it's still his decision and he's going to do what he thinks is best for the company." I take this to mean that if I apply, I'm pretty much guaranteed the position.

At this point, I'm gonna have to apply to avoid losing standing with the boss, which could lead to not having as good a chance at getting the same promotion in the future. I know I should be happy about this, but it feels like I'm betraying my coworker for going back on something that I never even told anyone about.

Well... that's my rant. I guess the moral of this story is that I'm just too nice for my own good...

2010-02-16, 04:38 AM
Well, for one thing:

Applying wouldn't be selfish. Sabotaging your coworkers chance at it would be, but not applying. After all it'd then be "Whoever seems to be the best for the job gets it", which is pretty fair.

And after that talk with your boss I'd say: Go for it. Not with all force, but at least apply. Sure, you might get the job in 99% of scenarios, but who knows, maybe the 1% scenario kicks in.

I understand why you're feeling bad about the thing, but apart from ruining your future chances you can't do a thing, and I'm sure your coworker will/would understand.

Maybe talk to her if it eases your mind?

2010-02-16, 04:40 AM
Will the new post give you a chance to help your colleague out at all?
Sometimes it's good to take a promotion to help your mates out.

2010-02-16, 04:56 AM
i would talk to the other woman, explain what happened and how you feel.

2010-02-16, 05:23 AM
Apply, and don't bring up your feelings on this with your colleague, unless her financial need for the job is truly dire. Telling her that "she needs the job more, so you'd like to stand aside" will be pretty damaging to her ego if she's nice (nobody wants to be a charity case), and identify you as a sap if she isn't.

Your employers want you for the job, you want the job, and it sounds like you might be the best person for it. And once in the job, you might be in a better position to help out and look out for your friend (in small, totally non-corrupt ways) anyway. Besides, if you don't take it, there's no guarantee they'll just give it to her if they don't want her for it.

2010-02-16, 05:34 AM
When I clicked on this I thought it was going to be a long and complicated philosophical question.

That said, I tend to agree with the above- if you really want to help someone, turning down a job opportunity that they have a good chance of not being offered anyway, is not the best way to do it.

2010-02-16, 05:35 AM
Genuine commiserations if/when you are chosen wouldn't go astray, at the very least.

2010-02-16, 06:26 AM
meh. do it. don't let your colleague know and remember, it is sep (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somebody_Else%27s_Problem). then execute your new position to the fullest capacity. and how do you know that your situation won't destabilize and put you in a spot where the additional income would be advantageous. don't think about it as betrayal, think about it as you asserting your place in the universal order of things.

2010-02-16, 09:54 AM
I agree that you should go for the job and not worry too much about your colleague since, as previously mentioned, if you step aside and don't apply, you'll lose standing with your boss AND you haven't told anyone that the reason you wanted her to get the job is because of her financial situation, then no one can blame you for going for a sought-after job.

A job that your boss wants you to apply for. I mean, if that's not an incentive to go for it, then i don't know what is.

EDIT: Also, let me just *SLAP* some sense into you. :smallwink:

2010-02-16, 10:39 AM
Do you actually have any reason to put this co-workers interests ahead of not only your interests and your boss' interests, but the company's interests, and quite probably the company's customers' interests as well? :smallconfused: It sounds like you're the right person for the job.

2010-02-16, 10:43 AM
If it were I, I'd apply, and take her under my wing. Make sure she gets a different (?) promotion, or follows in your footsteps... :smallconfused:

2010-02-16, 10:43 AM
However, one of my co-workers wants the position as well and she quite frankly needs it more than I do

Relevant question: why?

Mando Knight
2010-02-16, 01:29 PM
She might "need" it more than you, but if you're the one who's more qualified, it's not selfless to not apply, it's stupid.

Here's what you do: you apply, apply seriously, and if/when you get the promotion, you don't use it to take advantage of your new underlings.

If you want to help her, do so actively rather than passively. If you try to passively help her by not applying for the promotion, then if the promotion isn't enough to get her out of whatever trouble she's in, you still haven't helped. If you actively help her, then even if you do get the promotion that the two of you are competing for, you're already working towards helping her out of her problem and even have new leverage to work around with.

2010-02-16, 01:39 PM
Applying for the job is not selfish.

2010-02-16, 02:06 PM
Depends on if you define "selfish act" as "any act that is in your own self-interest" or not :smallamused:

2010-02-16, 02:45 PM
Redefining words to mean something quite different from their normal meaning is not a good idea. Doing so when the word in question has bad connotations is an especially bad idea - it is essentially deception by mis-association, i.e., you get to confuse the associations of the normal meaning with a different meaning.


2010-02-16, 02:52 PM
Yes- its mostly people seeking to "redeem the concept" that emphasise these parts of the definition and synonyms:

concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

1. self-interested, self-seeking, egoistic

Whether its a good thing that some people want to take the worst connotations out of that particular word, is a different question entirely.

2010-02-16, 02:58 PM
Are you and your co-worker the only candidates for this position? If you don't apply, is there a chance your boss will promote somebody besides your co-worker, leaving both you and her in the dust.

As for morality, I don't think you'd be considered Selfish for applying, now, refusing to apply so your co-worker gets it would be selfless, but that dosn't make you selfish if you apply. Also, if you don't apply, the message you will probably send to your boss is that you don't have any ambition.

2010-02-16, 03:03 PM
If your superiors are coming to you (and not her), then they apparently want you (and not her) for the position. Apply for the job. If you get it, encourage your co-worker to take some courses and improve her own chances of advancement next chance it comes up. (That is actually one of the things a good manager is supposed to do). If you don't get it, don't worry about it.

2010-02-16, 04:39 PM
If you care so much about her getting the job because she needs it more financially, then give her some money. You are okay with not applying and hoping she ends up getting the job. How about you get the job (seems like you will anyway) and then give her some of your wage. If you think that is stupid, then why even contemplate letting her take the position?

2010-02-17, 12:45 AM
Selfishness is a undersirable quality which occasionally produces desirable results, Selflessness is vice versa.

In this case I would say go for it. If they don't want to promote the girl, they won't. Heck, maybe you'll get further promoted in time and she'll follow up after you, maybe not - either way it should be based on her own merit. So, don't fear, it's alright to go for it. Maybe you could see your way to helping her out, though? I don't what what the problem is but there might be something you could do, even if it's just brigtening up her day with a well-placed cake?

2010-02-17, 02:36 AM
Selfishness is a undersirable quality which occasionally produces desirable results, Selflessness is vice versa.Selflessness, in my experience, is virtually always nearly as problematic as selfishness. (Heh, "virtually always nearly" is clumsy but the qualification IS necessary.) It's obvious if you regard society from an outside perspective. The reality that selflessness overlooks is that we are assets to our society in ourselves, and that our first responsibility should be to ourselves, because otherwise it has to be somebody else's (or we lose efficacy, or even perish), and that's highly inefficient.

It's my old boat analogy all over again: one person in the water, one in the boat. The selfish boater abandons the person in the water, but when he realizes he can't paddle to shore alone, the other person has already drowned. The selfless boater grabs the person in the water, and then falls into the water when that person pulls on his arm. The sensible person makes sure their position in the boat is secure, and then helps the other guy in, where together they can beat the current and get home.

Soceity needs people to place their own interests first but not only - and still help others. That's just how cooperation works best. Martyrdom is not efficient!

The OP provides another example. He's the best person for the job, and both he and the business as a whole would therefore benefit from accepting that position. Giving it to a less qualified person not only doesn't necessarily benefit that person (a promotion too soon is often a disaster), it necessarily harms the gestalt entity. His attempt at "selflessness" strikes me as being narrow minded.

2010-02-18, 02:28 AM
This is basically the kind of responses I was hoping for. Tell me to shut up and stop being neurotic. I feel better about it now. Thank you all.




... of course the job hasn't been posted yet for some reason so I can't apply:smallsigh:

2010-02-18, 03:47 AM
This is basically the kind of responses I was hoping for. Tell me to shut up and stop being neurotic. I feel better about it now. Thank you all.
Here, Let me *SLAP* some more sense into you to keep you going for a while.

... of course the job hasn't been posted yet for some reason so I can't apply:smallsigh:

Give your CV to your boss directly, if he's the correct person to give it to.
If he's not the right person to give the CV to, give it to the correct person that needs to get it and tell them that it's a pre-emptive application since you know the job will be advertised shortly.

2010-02-18, 03:50 AM
It doesn't work like that. I need to apply on the website (or the crappy little quasi-computer thing at work). So if the jobs not posted, I can't apply.

Yay corporations...

2010-02-18, 07:46 AM

Aye, I agree. Finding the middle ground is always the best.

2010-02-18, 09:32 PM
And, despite my bosses assurance that it would be posted today, it has still yet to be posted:smallsigh:

Yay corporations...

2010-02-18, 10:49 PM
One thing, cheers for actually caring enough about your coworkers. Hell, most the people I know wouldn't have even thought about it.

2010-02-18, 11:56 PM
Corporations, don't get me started.....
Anyways, bonus points for actualy thinking about your coworker, like already mentioned, most people would not think twice.

2010-02-20, 08:56 AM
I guess that makes me a meanie compared to the OP, because I honestly don't see anything to get all guilty over.

This is your future you are talking about. I don't see why you should be throwing it away. This isn't charity, IMO, it is sheer stupidity. And chances are if she ever found out, she would take your "kind gesture" as an insult. I know I would.

Even if you want to help your colleague, it should not come at the expense of your own career prospects. You are not doing anything to stab her in the back. Both of you are competing solely on ability. So let the better candidate get the promotion.

2010-02-20, 12:50 PM
So- its the difference between a sacrifice, and a benevolent gesture?

A sacrifice- of your own future- is something that it is unreasonable to expect?

If so, I'd tend to agree.