Giving yourself away

Giving yourself away

Zoey Lim, Terrific Mentors International

Deborah, a 17 year old intern working with a company took some money from the petty cash. She was found out. Manager Z was greatly concerned and wanted to help. He cared for her feelings and wanted to avoid a nasty confrontation. He tried easing into the conversation by asking about Deborah’s life, thinking that she was facing some financial problems. Deborah was generally happy and gave no indication that she needed financial help. Z then asked, “We noticed that $360 was missing from the petty cash. Did you take the money?” Deborah said that she “borrowed” the money, not thinking that he would mind. She had used the money to purchase a pair of boots which she fancied, and said that she would return the cash as soon as she got her pay. After a ten-minute conversation, it seemed apparent to Manager Z that Deborah was not sorry for her actions. She still insisted that it was a loan. Manager Z fired her. 

Let’s look at the same Deborah, but a different manager. Manager J was greatly concerned and wanted to help. Instead of easing into the conversation, he went straight to the point, firmly. “Did you steal the money?” Manager J said that if she had, he would call the police. Deborah was afraid and yet not sorry for her actions. Manager J said that she would not be receiving her salary for two months as punishment. Deborah agreed to this and begged him not to call the police. Manager J said that he might consider not calling the police, and might even still pay Deborah her salary, depending on her performance over the next two months. Deborah had a second chance. She was kept on her toes and worked more diligently than ever. We never discovered if Deborah regretted her actions.

Both managers were greatly concerned and wanted to help. Both managers cared very much about Deborah, so why were there two different outcomes? 

For every conversation and interaction, we give a part of ourselves away, our time, our thoughts, our hearts. Sometimes we leave the other party inspired by what we shared with them. At other times, we leave the guilty party with a good memory because of an adventure we experienced together. We often hear people say of others, “you made me who I am” or “I would never have come so far without you” and perhaps this is what it means.

Before we meet someone, are we prepared to give a part of ourselves away so that the other party might benefit from our exchange? Do we make the effort to give them something worthwhile? Are we grateful for the part of themselves that they have given to us? We know of people who give themselves away and end up getting hurt. We should not be afraid, because most times that we give ourselves away we fill a desperate need for another.

I spoke to Manager Z. He made the decision to fire Deborah because she did not appear to feel sorry for her actions. He was waiting for her to give away a part of herself to change things. This seemed reasonable, surely. He also shared that he could no longer trust her, he could not put the company’s intellectual properties and his reputation at risk. He was not ready to give away a part of himself and so called off their relationship.

How do you think Manager J came to the decision to keep Deborah employed? 

Good morning

Zoey Lim – I welcome your views about Manager J’s decision at