I was out to the vendor last week to buy paper, I realized I had only currency note. The vendor could not make change for me, so he smiled widely and said,”Don’t worry, you’ll pay tomorrow.” But I tensed up and nodded in disagreement. I insisted on paying for the paper, so I went into a store and bought something I did not need so I could make change. I handed the vendor the small note I got as change from the store to pay for my paper.
In that instant, the dynamic of our relationship changed. The vendor reluctantly took my money and drew back in sadness. “I did the wrong thing,” I later said to myself. “I didn’t accept his kindness. He wanted to do something meaningful, but I treated it as a transaction.” Good intention right? Yes, but wrong timing.
This experience made me realize something quite genuine. Many of us are caught up in our own lives and preoccupied with our own activities so much that we acknowledge the people we are interacting with as only instrumental – a means to an end. The world has so advanced into a toxic state where things are only believed to be transactional – a give and take circle. Instrumental treatment is now commonly seen as the best way to wade through a world laden with broken emotions & intentions.
This toxic character isn’t even solving the problem it is expected to overcome. This is because instrumental or transactional treatment more often than not is associated with negative outcomes for individual relationships and even organizational/business relationships.
Studies have shown that treating people as instruments would often lead them to self-objectify, that is, to perceive themselves as objects rather than human beings. This would result in them being less engaged in a relationship, a given task or a conversation thus undermining their mental health and performance in the case of organizational relationships.
The surreal thing about this instrumental/transactional treatment is that according to psychological researches, 9 in 10 people have been a victim one way or the other. While the experience is more dominant in some than another, one thing that is certain is that such experience made us broken and our self-esteem bruised. You’d agree with me that for our self-esteem to be intact, there has to be a sense of self-worth, however when our worth is being reduced to a transaction just like the newspaper vendor I mentioned earlier, the implication is a soul hunting for revenge or looking for the next available person to empty such frustrations on. Ever wondered why we have a lot of broken heart walking around, this right here is a factor.
In conclusion, it is important to note that using people or engaging people as transactions and objects is an exploitative character. Find a way to get help if you have these traits no matter how little. And if you are at the receiving end of this toxic behaviour, it is time to understand that those you thought loved you only needed you, they only loved you as much as they can use you. Their loyalty ends where the benefits stops.
If you find yourself in situations as uncomfortable as this, this is what you should do; “Uphold your dignity by walking away from people who are into themselves so much that they forget you have a life to live, dreams to pursue and destiny to fulfill. They only remember you when they need you do or be something for them. Be mindful of your own feelings.”