It’s hard enough to go through a rough time without other people trying to sneak in and take advantage of your misfortune. Yet, some people will do just that. This is because while an unfortunate event or difficult time for you might seem personal, it’s also true that other people can benefit from your tough time. Often, these people can benefit by making money off of (or during) your hardship. Of course there are people who you should avoid if you are trying to save money, and sometimes these people can be friends or family members.
However, there are also people who will jump at the chance to benefit from what you are going through. Whether they are sharing your personal hardship, or they are stepping in to take your job when you are focusing on something else, these people can wreak havoc. Here are four people to watch out for.
1. People at work
There are many people who will probably support you when you are having a hard time. If you lose a loved one, perhaps they will bring you dinner or help take over your job duties while you are gone. However, you also may have co-workers who would take advantage of your leave at work (whether family, medical, or other).
If you have to take off a significant amount of time from work, and someone wants your job, then they might take this time to try to prove to your boss why they would be a better fit. Of course, it won’t be easy for someone to come in and take your job; your company should have protections set up against that sort of behavior. But a particularly nasty co-worker could badmouth you to your boss, undermine your ability to do your job, or simply move ahead on the list for a promotion you were up for. According to Monster, if you know someone is talking about you behind your back, you can confront the person, make a joke out of it, or even report it.
2. Friends and family members
If you can trust anyone, it’s your close friends and family, right? Well, usually. There are some friends who are not really friends, and there are even family members who will benefit from your difficult times or the mistakes you make. Sometimes family members can benefit financially (for example, if you make poor financial decisions and your father decides to hand the family business over to your brother, or your family member lends you money and demands a huge return on interest).
Family members and friends can also benefit from other misfortunes. Perhaps you recently broke up with your partner, and you’re feeling really down; your friend might see this opportunity as a great way to move in on your ex. While many friends and family members consider exes off-limits, others don’t. People have different definitions of what is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to friendship and family.
3. The human leech
Pretty much everyone on this list could be considered selfish, but the human leech may be the dirtiest of all because these people don’t appreciate anything and will go out of their way to get as much out of you as possible. When you’re going through a difficult time, your other defenses may be down. This means that someone can often use your sadness or frustration against you. Acquaintances, friends, family members, or co-workers who act as leeches may ask you for money more often, or shame you and make you feel bad about your mistakes. You may not initially realize that someone is hurting you (financially or emotionally) because your attention will be on whatever else is going on in your life.
4. The media
Recently Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s upcoming divorce has been all over the news. Celebrity divorces tend to make magazines and other media outlets a lot of money because people want to read or hear about the misfortunes of celebrities (and their lives in general). When the couple married, the wedding photos were worth an estimated $2 million, and the photos and corresponding stories now are also raking in a lot of money as well. According to a 2011 New York Times article, the celebrity gossip industry was worth about $3 billion, and that can only have gone up since.
Perhaps you’re no celebrity, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t benefit from your misfortunes; think about social media and local media as well. People can easily share stories, and if you have an elected job or high-profile job, people might literally benefit financially if they are able to share a story about you.
Unfortunately, people will face misfortunes once in a while, and that means that other people will be around to benefit from them. You can’t stop this from happening completely, but you can take steps to limit the damage. Stay in contact with your boss and co-workers when you take time off, admit when you make mistakes, and avoid scandals when possible.