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  • Chris Gib

Getting over getting screwed over

What do you do when there’s nothing at the end of the extra mile?

If, like us, you get a kick out of voluntarily going over-and-above in the (potentially misguided) hope that there might be extra rewards and benefits further down the line, it’s likely that you’ll have experienced times when your enviable work ethic, buoyant enthusiasm and desperation to impress has been thoroughly taken advantage of by a client, peer or superior.

A range of responses or reactions can be triggered in situations where you feel like your precious time, energy and kindness has been exploited without so much as a ‘Thank You’.


It’s natural to be angry at the person/people/organisation that treated you with disrespect, but you will probably also be just as angry at yourself for letting it happen too! Perhaps you feel a bit stupid for not seeing the signs (which in hindsight are now blazingly apparent). Maybe you’re angry because you lost so much sleep, because you missed out on events and family time, and because you invested so much emotional collateral in a project you believed in and felt super-passionate about. Your anger in this scenario is both valid and natural.


Even though you volunteered your time and effort willingly without any guarantee of reward, having your trust abused still comes as a shock. It makes you second-guess yourself and makes it harder to offer your trust in the future.

But we all know that productive working relationships, networks and friendship are built on mutual trust. What a dilemma! Because now you’ve been forced to reflect and re-evaluate your metrics for trusting. A ‘bitter pill’ to be sure.


You’ll likely ruminate for a while on all the time and money you wasted on that particular person, group or business – time and money which could have been spent on a productive and rewarding activity. How is it fair that you delivered so much value and success to a project, but in return the party that greatly benefitted barely showed any gratitude? And from now on, just seeing the name of the person or company in question will almost certainly elicit a negative emotional response. Ugh.


It’s so easy to get your hopes up when there’s an exciting project on the horizon; where a successful outcome could result in a number of rewarding possibilities. You probably thought it could be the start of something special. More work. Enthusiastic recommendations. A pay rise. An award. A promotion. A hero’s welcome. A credit. A name drop. You likely daydreamed about where you could end up if you committed a bunch of extra time, energy, blood, sweat and tears to the project. But no. In the end, it was all for nothing. The expected highs instead became disappointing lows.


This one is simple and obvious, and probably doesn’t require any clarification.

In the moment, it certainly brings no comfort to know that “it happens to the best of us”, and that these types of situations can also have positive consequences. Every cloud has a silver lining, right? The truth is that there will always be people out there who will take advantage of others for their own gain. Sadly, it’s likely to happen more than once, and its likely to be a person or a group of people you initially thought you could trust.

99% of the time there is no malice behind the actions of those who have wronged you; It’s just the way some people are programmed, or the way some organisations operate. They might be so focused on their own agenda that they simply overlook yours.

It's wise to have some coping behaviours in your back-pocket which will help you deal with the negative feelings and reactions if/when the time comes. Here’s a few to get you started:

  1. Negative emotions overtake rational thinking, which is how excessive rumination occurs. Obviously, these overbearing thoughts take focus away from the present, and the important things – family, work, friends etc. So it’s best to try and find ways to keep those emotions in check. Perhaps take a few deep breaths. Walk away from the situation (figuratively and physically). Find a distraction to occupy your brain; maybe an engaging hobby, a good book, a thoughtful film, an immersive game or a fun social event.

  2. Give yourself time to come to terms with what happened. Time really does heal although it’s quicker for some people than for others. Even a few days can bring a different perspective, more balanced reasoning, and less emotional turmoil. A wise (and we assume pessimistic) person once said “In a year’s time, you’ll have a whole new set of issues to worry about”. Or something like that. We know it’s not the healthiest of mindsets, but the intention tracks.

  3. Bow out gracefully. There’s nothing you can do change what’s already happened so focus on tempering your own reaction to the situation. Angry feelings of revenge and resentment are emotionally intense. Letting the negative feelings drain your psychological battery will only affect you and those close to you. Keeping your head held high as you turn your attention to the next thing will make you mentally stronger - and much prouder of yourself in the long run.

  4. Your initial (and valid instinct) might be to completely cut ties with the person, people or organisation that screwed you over. And you might feel compelled to make sure everyone knows why. Perhaps you’ll justify it as a warning to others who might fall into the same trap as you did. But burning your bridges definitely isn’t the wisest move. Especially publicly. You never know what the future holds, or what the domino effect might be if you make your thoughts and feelings known to the world. Take the opportunity to be the bigger person because there’s nothing to be gained from badmouthing.

  5. Use the situation as a development opportunity. Focus on what you learned from it, and how it made you more resilient, analytical and strategic. Perhaps you’ll decide to set your expectations lower in the future, or to temper your initial hopes and ambitions. Turning a negative situation into a positive learning experience is just about the best thing you could do!

  6. Remember it was always a gamble. There was likely never a formal agreement in place. Perhaps there was a conversation, but it’s fair to assume that the parties involved all placed a different amount of weight on the words that were said. You went into it knowing there was always a possibility things wouldn’t turn out the way you wanted. Going the extra mile was your decision. You took a risk, and it didn’t pay off. Next time it might!

  7. Don’t let it beat you. Don’t let it dull your sparkle. Stay fabulous.

It’s important to note that we at DarkScorpio Media & Marketing aren’t psychologists. We have no formal education about this stuff. The advice and guidance we’ve provided is the result of our own lived experiences, and years of having to change our thinking and behaviour in cases where we fell foul of our own expectations. Rightly or wrongly, expecting to be screwed over makes it easier to deal with when it does happen - and delivers positive feelings when it doesn’t.

We’d be very keen to learn from others who have experienced something similar, or from actual professionals who can offer a more scientific and educated perspective. Help us to help others; leave a comment or two.

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