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The devil you know…

[ 2009-08-25 13:10]     字号 [] [] []  
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The devil you know…Steven writes:

Please help me to understand this sentence – “So before you hand in your resignation, first identify opportunities for change or improvement, because the devil you know is sometimes better than the devil you don’t!” – and, in particular, “the devil you know is sometimes better than the devil you don’t!”

My comments:

If this quote is from your current employer, Steven, be happy.

Because, finally, he’s telling you the truth and offering you some sound advice!

What these quoted words mean to convey is this: Don’t leave your current job before you are sure to have a better one with a better employer. If you’re leaving your current post just presuming you’d get a better one someplace else, think twice because your next job may turn out to be worse.

In other words, your next employer may well turn out to be worse a devil than this one (whom you’re working for now). So therefore make sure you know what you’re doing. Don’t just leave for the sake of leaving because your desire for change (experiment or adventure) may cause regret in future.

There’s a lot of truth in there. You should be thankful of your boss, again supposing he were the one telling you this, for saying that.

Leave him (if and when you identify a better situation) by all means and just the same but still be thankful of him for saying this to you. You see, bosses usually don’t give subordinates sound advice like this, even if the said subordinates have begun second-guessing the boss and dreaming about greener pastures elsewhere.

Anyways, “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t” is the saying in question here. It’s an age-old proverb describing people’s comfort with the familiar and fear of the unknown.

The devil you know refers to your current opponent, foe, enemy, business partner or whomever you’re dealing with at the moment. He may be a terrible bloke, cheating and lying from time to time but at least you know his tricks (and therefore are prepared for them, thus preventing you from getting hurt). The devil you don’t know refers to your next business partner, enemy or foe. He is a complete stranger. You don’t know what he’s up to and he may very well turn out to be worse character yet.

In short, dealing with strangers is deemed riskier than dealing with familiar foes and folks even though the latter are sometimes unpleasant to deal with.

Alright, media examples so that you’ll be able to see more of this proverb in context:

1. Danica Patrick has indicated that she intends to remain with Andretti Green Racing next season, but stopped short of saying a deal is complete to keep her at the IndyCar team that has employed her for three seasons.

Patrick also hinted that the recent changes in the team’s structure - with Michael Andretti splitting with partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree – played a significant role in her decision.

The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know,” Patrick said after qualifying 11th at Sonoma. “Every team has its pitfalls and its people that are difficult. I just like some of the changes that are being made in this team, and that’s good for me.”

- Patrick closing on new AGR deal, AutoSport.com, August 23, 2009.

2. I understand the potential dangers associated with looking for love on the internet and all the scams that can occur with this type of search, however, this should not serve as a deterrence since such risks may exist with people we meet in our daily lives. For instance, how do I know my boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse of many years is not a serial killer or child molester? After all, do you think the wife-to-be of the 22-year-old med student knew that her fiancée was the “Craigslist Killer” who murdered a pretty New York masseuse and attacked at least two other escorts? I am sure Megan McAllister wouldn’t have guessed in her wildest dream that Markoff, the son of a Syracuse dentist, whom she met in college and was going to marry was a killer. My point with this is that life is riddled with risks and people wine and dine with etc might not be who you think they are. In such circumstances the saying the “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know” is no longer valid when you can’t even guarantee you really know the “devil”.

- Would you look for love on the internet? AfricanLoft.com, August 14, 2009.

3. Hodges founded RSG in 1995 and also has a branch office in Virginia staffed by recruiter Terry Pope. RSG has weathered two prior recessions.

“Quite frankly, it feels different than any other recession we’ve seen,” Hodges said. “Between the difficulties that companies are having getting funds to expand or getting paid by their customers, the real estate market has made it doubly more difficult to get people to move.”

One factor is economic. The other is psychological.

“Where we saw in 9/11 the fear of the unknown and people wanting to be closer to home, now we have the fear of the unknown from an employment perspective,” Hodges said. “Sometimes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know from an employer situation. On top of that, we have people who can’t afford two mortgages and companies that obviously aren’t going to buy your house.”

- Executive Recruiter Copes With Economic Challenges, Memphis Daily News, July 24, 2009.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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