“Can you review my proposal for me?! It’s due today!” This favor was asked of me yesterday. She might as well have said, “hurry up, pushover, I’m disorganized, and I need this done!” What can you do? While I felt completely annoyed and insulted by her audacity to ask for this pretty big favor at such a last minute in such an entitled tone, I also knew that I would be seeing her again and again and again at work. If I take the time to review the work, I’m enabling this disorganized self-involved communication, but if I don’t, then when I see her at work, those awkward interpersonal vibes will infinitely haunt our interactions, I contemplated on the spot.
As pushy and poorly calculated as her request was, as much as I wanted to say, “girl, get it together, and ask for favors with manners. Do you really think I want to be your editor now that you’ve sprung your last minute anxiety on me?! I have my own last minute stressors to deal with!” I inevitably reviewed it. I was a total pushover, a complete enabler; I’ll admit it. However, this will keep social interactions at work smooth. She does also show signs of ambition and tenacity, by asking me regardless of the time frame, which can be a useful trait.
I thought of it as an investment. I didn’t put my heart and soul into the proofread, and I kept in mind that she is still learning the ropes. So I made the feedback simple, pointing out the work’s strengths. It only took about 15 minutes to read over, so the tradeoff seemed fair in my head. A 15 minute nuisance keeps my work setting less likely to have any social weirdness.
But where do we draw the line? I guess the line has to be drawn with our instincts, with our professional critical thinking skills as well as the culture of the setting around you.
It’s such a sensitive and important issue that seems to never be addressed. With all the training and experiences I keep in my toolbox, where are the solutions to these types of decisions?
If you’re too complacent, you may gain the rep of being a pushover, which will wear you out with favors and will pigeon hole you as “not good” leadership material. However, if you don’t do any favors for anyone, you might be known as a selfish colleague and lose the trust of your co-workers.
This is one of those work-related issues that I can’t write a “how to” for because it doesn’t seem to have an exact solution. It seems the only thing I can offer regarding a potential “pushover” circumstance is to analyze certain aspects of the situation and decide for yourself.
6 Things to Consider before doing a Favor for Someone at Work:
2. The type of work relationship you have with the person asking the favor of you.
5. How often you interact with the person.
6. The motivation/purpose behind the favor.
I guess another easy way to decide is if you’re analyzing too much and wasting time not being able to decide, that’s probably a clear sign it’s not worth investing the time and energy, or maybe it’s just not a good idea.
What do you think?
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