Principal Consultant, Career OverDrive!
"I can't believe it's already 11:00 PM on a Friday night! This meeting was supposed to wrap up hours ago!", you say to yourself as you realize that the "simple favor" your co-worker had asked you to do for him (you know the one that was supposed to start promptly at 6:00 PM with the client arriving at your offices and then end at 7:00 PM on the nose) has once again turned into a logistical, thankless headache with you trapped in the middle.
Worse, you've given up more of your own precious time and energy, burning yourself out and potentially putting your own personal and work relationships at risk with nothing to gain.
Have you experienced something like this before? If you have, you're not alone. If you haven't you surely will.
Within your current job and along you career path as well as within your private life, you'll have the need and occasion to help others as well as call upon others to help you. Depending on how you handle this, your stock will either rise in value or you''ll be used as a step and fetch it (in the very worst sense of the word) and become a dumping ground for the work that others can't or just don't want to do. You can also expect your income to suffer, your job satisfaction and engagement to suffer and your career to suffer. And worst of all, you can expect your work-life balance and health to suffer.
1. Some people are pure takers ("Takers") and never, ever give.
2. Some people are pure takers ("Takers") and will give but only when cornered, and even then they'll try to renege or slip out of reciprocity given any opportunity.
3. Some Takers routinely underestimate the frequency and value of what they take while at the same time overestimating the frequency and value of what they give.
4. If you're like most people, you're probably not communicating the value of your giving and the legitimacy of your own needs as well as the requirement that you fully expect the "chips" you've accumulated to be redeemed by the issuing party whenever you decide to cash them in.
Now, of course, no one wants to live in a purely quid pro quo world -- one in which you need to keep a running tally of everything you've ever given to others versus everything others have ever given to you.
On the other hand, no one wants to be taken advantage of or treated poorly.
Perhaps the most frustrating and painful situation occurs when you're aware of these patterns but just don't know how to act in a way that will enable you to reach your desired outcome while also not tarnishing your reputation or standing in the group.
Below I'll share with you a few simple but powerful techniques to test, reconfirm and further solidify your relationships with others both professionally and socially.
You'll also learn how to first signal and then train others in the manner by which you expect to be treated. Don't willingly be a step and fetch it or someone's door mat.
You may also remember that earlier we talked about developing situational awareness by pinging (sonar) and painting (radar) those around you.
Now we'll talk about how to do favors for others, set a value or impute value on those favors, collect chips for the favors you've done and most importantly, how and when to cash them in. We'll also discuss how to identify and filter out "Takers" and manipulators and we'll do all of this in an effortless and socially acceptable manner -- that is, in a manner that doesn't disrupt the harmony of the office or the group.
Obviously, much of this will be dependent on the LSD Principle of social relationships and interactions (this is a core principle of Psychological Jujutsu and is used and appears throughout all of my training) so you'll need to probe and map out relationships while learning to calibrate your responses and "challenges". But not to worry -- it's a lot easier than it sounds. Let's begin!
If you "give it up" on the first coffee date, whatever your true value (cosmically speaking) is, you'll find that it will suddenly be very much different from the value you have now signaled to the other party. And what matters most of all, is the signal that you have transmitted and the other party has received.
"He's easy. He just gives it right up..."
So don't just say "yes". Find out what they want and why. Gently push back or at the very least, "resist".
Consider the scenario, where a co-worker, Joe, wants your assistance.
Joe: "Can you do me a favor?"
Or he may be more specific "Can you do me a favor this Friday?"
Now, unless you have a very close relationship with that person, your spidey-sense should immediately get all tingly while you instinctively reply (verbally or written):
You: "What do you need?"
Or "I won't know until you tell me what you need..."
You can and should still say this with a friendly tone of voice but you need to prevent jumping in with "sure" or "sure, what do you need?" because there are legions of manipulative if not downright dodgy people out there looking to take advantage of hardworking and honest people by shifting their work to others, and they do it by setting commitment and consistency traps.
Alternatively, you may hear:
Joe: "Hey, are you going to be around this Friday at 6:00 PM?"
You: "Why, what do you need?"
Or "What do you need help with?"
A truly dodgy person will then ignore your request for more info and simply continue:
Joe: "Look, I need to know. Can you do me a favor?"
You: "Not until you tell me what it is".
Then posture away, shuffle papers, pick up phone to make a call, check your email or move away for a coffee and make a mental note: dodgy....hmm.
2. Once you've opened a dialogue you can press further. Resistance and challenges build value, filter out the "takers" and strengthen relationships with healthy people.
Joe: "Oh, I've got Mr. Kilkins from ABC, Inc. coming by at 6:00 PM this Friday and we need to give him a quick tour of our service bay and then a product demo right after that."
You: "You don't want to do it?"
Notice that although you've phrased this as question, psychologically you've framed it so that it appears that the other person is pushing the work that they don't want to do onto you. And maybe they are. Which could still be okay as long as get a chip of appropriate value and as long as that chip holds its value and is redeemable later for your own needs.
Joe: "I have XYZ to do"
Or "I have another meeting."
Whatever they say, listen closely to what they say, what they don't say and how they say it. Next gently probe to find out if it's a real business commitment or a social "commitment" such as having drinks with his friends, going to a ball game, etc.
After all, you deserve your own free time, too. And if you're giving up your free time to do someone else's work, you want to be certain that you then receive a chip of a certain value for your service and that said chip holds its value in the future and is accepted by party you previously serviced when you decide to cash it in.
3. Build value further by signaling your own loss to do this and quickly explore other possibilities.
You: "Wow, that's short notice, I've got a lot on my plate..."
Or "Hmm, I need to be at XYZ place by XX PM"....
And then add this phrase right after that:
"....so can this push (meeting) out for another day?"
Watch the reaction. See how the person comes back.
Joe: "I wish it could but I was told it must happen on this Friday."
If you decide this isn't for you, then end now and move away but do it in a positive, helpful manner.
You: "I feel for you. Would love to help but I've got my own appointment at that time."
By using "appointment" you've made it clear it's stronger than a "commitment" and it's also hard to break, plus it's nebulous -- what is an "appointment"? Is it business or personal? A meeting or a haircut? Who knows. And that's the point.
Now step in and assist. "Hey, have you approached Linda over in marketing?"
And then let this die out.
On the other hand, see what Joe says, you may decide to help out and by now the price of the favor he is asking of you is going up in value. By the minute!
4. If you do want to do it, continue with this dance (which is actually a form of negotiation). Also be sure to now set hard time and effort limits for any help you render.
You: "Look, I'm extremely busy / it means I'll miss out on XYZ / it means I'll have to reschedule ABC, but if no one else can do it, I'll step in because I know you'd do it for me..."
Watch his reaction....
He should say, "Yes, I would!" or at least acknowledge your gesture and that he would.
You can then confirm and prompt this by getting his public commitment.
You: "So do you need my help then?"
If he says "yes" proceed.
If he refuses to say so publicly and commit to it, then simply bow out and move onto your own things as he is ducking out of a relationship. He's a user a worst, a taker at best.
However, if he says "yes", then continue:
You: "I can do it, but I'm pressed for time and have a hard stop. He needs to be here no later than 6:00 PM AND I have a hard stop at 7:00 PM. No matter what. So I'm letting you know this up front and you need to let him know it."
Watch his reaction.
You: "I'll need you to send me a email about this and his contact details to me in case something happens."
If he fights that or says nothing will happen and so on, then just end it with:
You: "Look, I'm doing you a favor but it feels like pulling teeth..."
If he plays nicely and then sends you that email, reply with your requirements and terms:
You agree to do A, B and C.
The guest / individual must be there no later than 6:00 PM.
Your hard stop is 7:00 PM, no extensions, no exceptions.
1. Many times, unsavory people will use the "camel's nose under the tent" technique to sucker you in, and then the next thing you know, the guest or customer arrives two hours late, wants a longer tour or requests other info that was not agreed to. Worse, you may even find that due to logistics, you are required or requested to chauffeur the person around town after the meeting -- all while the guy who was tasked with doing this is watching the ball game or kicking back drinking tequila shooters. Which is all fine if it were your job, you agreed to it and you somehow benefited.
2. You have memorialized the events. This protects you from what you have offered to Joe (yes, unsavory people can pin anything on a sucker -- that's you -- and make it "their" problem, so this prevents you from assuming a situation of all risk and no return). It also gives you written proof of the agreement and your commitment. Make sure he replies to it with an "I agree" or "okay". Let him know if he doesn't reply (by replying to your exact email) that the deal is off. Do it in a nice, nonchalant, no skin off your nose manner. But just make sure you do it.
Once you have successfully performed this service, send Joe a short email talking about it and how it went. And be certain never to devalue yourself by using phrases such as "No problem" or "It was nothing".
Your next step is to be certain to , as soon as possible, cash in part of those chips by asking Joe for a favor. Never wait too long because you need to find out immediately if Joe is a guy who honors the chips others have earned for servicing his needs or if he is a self-centered skeezer or Taker.
This will let you now. Quickly. Painlessly.
And by the way, the more you do this, the simpler it becomes until you'll find that it runs on autopilot, in the background, that you no more think about to do this than you do when tying your shoes.