Sunday, 15 January 2017

Questions which should not be asked

You can tell whether somebody is a well-mannered person by observing if they know when to keep their mouth shut. In life there are situations when saying nothing is totally out of place, yet there may be equally many circumstances in which the ability to hold one’s tongue and resisting the temptation to speak one’s mind is appreciated. Usually one can point up their good behaviour if they hold back from either commenting or from asking questions. In the context of the former, it is enough to remind that in embarrassing situations silence is golden. When it comes to the latter, over the years I have compiled a list of questions I believe should not be ask and which as a matter of principle I resist to ask.

When are you planning to have children? / When will you finally get pregnant? / And the likes.
Maybe if such question is asked by closest relatives, it does not come out as inappropriate, yet I never ask it. Firstly, because the decision whether to have children, how many and when is a couple’s business, not mine. Secondly, with plague of infertility and other disruptions thwarting millions of couples’ dreams to have a child, such questions can cause unnecessary pain. Finally, some couple are not cut up for raising children, so maybe it is better if they do not have them.

When will you finally get married? / When will you finally get engaged? / Is he going to pop the question or not? / And the likes.
Formalising a relationship definitely has some practical aspects and by tying a knot two people officially confirm they want to be together theoretically until the end of one their days. But whether people wish to have their relationship officially legalised or want it to stay informal and keep away from registry office is their business. Indeed it takes more effort to break up when you are married, but for a really determined person if they really want, they will find a way, if they do not, they will find an excuse!

When will you finally find a boyfriend / girlfriend?
It still boggles my mind what the point in asking such questions is. Some people might prefer to be single and feel well about it. Others are out of luck in romantic relationships. There are also individuals who have been hurt once so badly that they are afraid of starting over a new relationship. At best such questions might f*ck someone up, at worst they wound.

When will you stop partying every weekend? When will you find a permanent job? When will start putting aside money? And the likes regarding lifestyle.
Unless these questions by somebody who lives under one roof with a reckless kidult or sponsors their pleasures, they are also out of place. Each human has the right to pursue happiness their own way, as long as they do not hurt nor harm others. A better way is to persuade such people to change their ways by cutting them off money or force them to become self-supporting.

When will you get a pay rise? When will you get promoted? When will you lose some weight? When will you learn (something)? And all questions pertaining to stuff that might be beyond one’s control.
What one achieves in life is a combinations of one’s ambitions, hard work, determination, but also circumstances, opportunities and skills. The three latter factors might not be dependent on an individual, since someone might lack inborn talents. Sometimes the price to pay for something might be too high. A good piece of advice seems to be to think twice whether when one being asked the question is the only one who holds his fate in his hands.

The autonomy of an individual is the value we should all cherish and stand up for. Silly or importunate questions only undermine it (but will not break it). I believe another human’s autonomy or freedom should be the main limit of one’s choices, although mature humans take heed of circumstances and other people’s feelings when they decide how to arrange their lives.

The next post is due in early February. Next weekend I am heading to the south-western edge of Europe to take a break from the winter!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

On a young man’s departure

Not the best start into 2017. On Monday I learnt from we ex-workmates from The Employer our colleague Krzysiek had passed away aged 31 on New Year’s Eve, thus eventually losing a half-year battle against cancer.

I first met Krzysiek in early 2011 when I joined The Employer as a full-time analyst. He had worked there for some three years and despite being only 25 had been promoted twice by then. As a definitely talented up-and-coming relationship manager, he was entrusted taking charge of the most promising prospective accounts.

He has not let down senior managers who had put a lot of faith and trust in his skills. In 2012 thanks to his determination, patience and negotiation skills he won the biggest deals in the history of The Employer. I was proud to participate in this success as I handled those clients on analytical coverage side. Though our styles or work differed and personally we were not on the same wavelength, we were always able to overcome different approaches to many issues and teamed up to pursue common goals. Our professional ties loosened up in late 2013 when The Employer decided to give up on the biggest accounts and part of business winding-down strategy. Since mid-2014 when I left The Employer we talked twice or maybe three times when we ran across each other in town.

Around the end of summer holidays I was told Krzysiek had been fighting brutal cancer for a few weeks and that the disease was ruthlessly spreading across his body. He went on a sick leave in September and was admitted to a hospice in November.

Farewell mass was administered on Wednesday in Warsaw and urn with Krzysiek’s ashes was buried on Thursday in his hometown. The very farewell, including priest’s sermon was touching and poignant. I counted around 300 people inside the church, including family, neighbours and friends from his hometown, schoolmates, fellow football fans, workmates and even CFOs of companies he had had relationships with.

Oddly enough, several people with whom he had worked until his last days in the office, did not turn up at the church. Sadly, no one from my team did not participate in the farewell as well, though they had worked with Krzysiek longer than me.

This sad event was a heart-rending reminder how fragile human life is. A year ago Krzysiek was a healthy young man with future wide open ahead of him. I would depart from the truth if I told Krzysiek had been my friend, he had been my workmate, yet his departure is a milestone in my life, as this is the first decease of somebody of my age I knew well. Until last days, in my narrow perception death would strike only people far older than me.

Besides my previous workplace is falling apart. The Employer, taken over by its competitor last year, is now seeing its workforce decimated. Several people with who I worked and whom I owe a lot have been laid off or are likely to be given the sack by the end of January.

But as it turns out again, every cloud has a silver lining. Had it not been for the farewell, I would not have met several people I had not seen for months. The sad gathering proved to be an occasion to renew old comradeships. Yesterday, despite the middle of the long weekend, we met up, not to foster memory of Krzysiek but to talk over what was going on in our lives.

With such starting point, I suppose things I poised to get only better.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

All is quiet on New Year’s Day

Not at my best today ;-) so will try keep my message short, yet not necessarily simple.

Year-end days are a time of compiling summaries; beginning of a new year is the time of making resolutions. I am not fond of neither of the turn-of-year activities. The former stands no chance of turning back time and erasing unfortunate past events; the latter sooner or later brings about frustration, since most promises made to oneself are not kept.

If I am to make a summary, 2016 was a year of breaking points.

The first one was rethinking my relationships with people before and after writing this post. I kept the record of mess in my head for posterity nearly in the eve of running across someone else’s wife and mother of two little girls, not fully satisfied with her marriage. We fell for each other instantly, but after a few months (when I think I’ve grown mature) I decided to terminate this dead-end arrangement…

Besides, I realised my job, though brings me self-fulfilment, is dead-end in terms of prospects of promotion, relocation and pay rise). Today my approach to what the New Factory offers me is even more pessimistic than three months ago and if I am to fend-off burning frustration, a change in 2017 seems inevitable.

If you still wish to do some exercise, take the trouble to indulge in what I have encouraged my friends to do in the last days of 2016. Recall what compliment you were most often paid in 2016 and which one pandered you the most. This should speak volumes about what you are good at and what you can develop.

Time for a set of wishes for 2017!

No human is perfect, but each human exhibits strengths and weaknesses. A human who strives (not obsessively) for perfection will realise and make good use of the former and fight, but not necessarily hide the latter.

The only pain is to feel nothing at all. Hollow life is the worst that can happen, I would rather wish you some painful experiences than uneventful, repeatable days. May 2017 be an eventful year! I believe the balance of good and bad luck in the universe is retained, so whenever cruel fate puts you to a test, lots of good people will come around, lend a helping hand and show they care. That’s at least what I observed in 2016 and what has filled me with faith in brighter tomorrow.