Being Used by a Co-Worker? Should You Help Them or Not ?
6 Points to Consider
by Catherine Pratt
Do you think you might be being used by a co-worker?
For example your co-worker asks you for help in finishing a project, so you put aside your own work and help them out. No big deal plus you feel good helping others. But, what happens when you need someone to lend a hand and you ask that same co-worker and they say “No”. If they ask you again in the future for assistance, would you agree or would you do the same thing that they did to you and refuse?
It’s a tough question. You want to get along with your co-workers and you want to be supportive when you can but on the other hand you don’t want to end up feeling like you’re just being used.
To help or not to help, here are 6 things to consider before you give your answer:
1. Pay attention
You can learn a lot about your co-workers by paying attention to how they treat other people. Do they usually help people out when they’re asked? Maybe they really are too busy to help you right now. If you ask again at a different time, would they still say no? Also, are they always asking everyone else to help them with their work and do they usually take all the credit for work that’s done or do they share the glory?
You should be able to get a pretty good idea of what type of person your co-worker is just by paying attention.
This will also give you a better idea of whether they think you’re just someone for them to use or whether they ask you all the time because they respect and admire your work.
There is also the possibility that they may be able to help you out in the future in a different way. For example, they could be a reference for you or put in a good word for you when a prime job comes up. It’s usually best not to burn any bridges if you can help it but by figuring out your co-worker’s personality type will provide you with excellent information on the best way to handle any future interactions. You’ll also know whether they are someone you can trust or not.
2. Think of the big picture Is your boss going to notice that you’re a team player and willing to come to others’ aid when they need it?
Are you gaining skills in a different area?
Are you making valuable connections with other people?
By helping out your co-worker now could pay off for you in the future. For example:
By thinking of the big picture, you could come out ahead in the end even if you sometimes feel like you’re just being used in the meantime.
Communication is key to any relationship whether it’s personal or business. Tell the person in a professional and constructive way how you’re feeling about the situation. If they don’t know how you’re feeling then they can’t address the issue. It may be a situation of two people viewing the same incident in completely different ways.
4. Use humour
You could make a joke and say something like, “Are you buying lunch?” to get across the point that you expect something in return this time. Use this one carefully though. Some people respond to humour well, others don’t. From using point #1 (figuring out their personality type), you should have a pretty good idea on how they would react.
5. What are the consequences? Is your boss going to just tell you to help them anyway?
Does the person hold grudges?
Will they make things more difficult for you in the future?
Will they be fine with it and simply ask someone else?
Are they going to understand that you’re busy too and that your time is to be respected as well?
As Einstein said, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” and there will be consequences for whichever answer you give. Think of all the possible outcomes to whether you say “yes” or “no”. For example:
6. How does it make you feel?
When the situation happens, it’s important to be aware of how it’s making you feel. Do you feel good or do you just end up with building resentment? Are you getting madder and madder because you expect something in return and you’re not getting anything? If it’s causing you a lot of extra stress and anger, it may not be worth saying, “yes”. You need to take a look at your feelings towards the situation and deal with them. Also, point #3 of communication would be valuable in this situation. If it’s causing you anxiety, talk to them about it. If it makes you feel valuable when you’re able to help others then that’s also an important consideration when making your decision.
Ultimately, you know the situation best but by considering the above 6 points, you will have taken the time to think it thoroughly through and will be able to make the best possible decision. It’s one of those areas where how you react today could have a huge impact on your future. Think carefully before you speak and you’ll come out ahead.
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