So my friend lost her job because she "just couldn't deal". She was a very competent worker and skilled professional. BUT she had no chill when it came to taking "BS" from her colleagues and even her bosses. Recently we all got to talking and she told me how her boss asked her to help get him a bottle of water from the fridge, and she outright said NO. The boss in question is a man in his late forties. She was honest enough to admit that he was polite. Yet, she felt asking her to get him drinking water was degrading to her, insulting to her person and beyond the scope of her job description, thus it was well within her right to say "I'm sorry sir, but I can't".
While we were talking about this, it sounded unreal to the others but had a similar experience not been dealt with by a close friend and blog reader, I would have thought it implausible too. This other friend was serving at a law firm. Notice I said "serving". Yes, she had been called to the Bar but this was during her NYSC. She was serving at one of the top law firms in Lagos Island and it was not an easy place to get into. One fine afternoon, one of the Principals of the firm, a gentleman in his 50s, asked her to please get him a bottle of water from the fridge. My friend literally lost it. She too read him the "not my job/not within my job description" Act. She said everyone at the firm was stunned but she couldn't be bothered. In her own case she wasn't looking to be retained at the firm as she had other plans for after service year, but she insists that either ways, she would not have got him that bottle of water. She added "Sir, if you cannot get it yourself then I can send for one of the office assistants for you". I heard you could hear a pin drop.
While I applaud these two friends of mine, on the different occasions I've heard these accounts told I've wondered; what's the big deal really? Whats so difficult about getting a glass of water? Both bosses were several years older, anything wrong in helping your elder out with the little things?
They argue that, "that is how it starts", first they're asking you to help with a bottle of water, next thing they're asking you to make their coffee, and the next thing you know they're sending you to TFC to buy their lunch or to go and pick their kids from school. I quite agree.
Now, my friend lost her job and her colleagues are certain that her stubbornness is partly the reason. This leads me to ask; was it worth it? She's been home for almost five months now and I wonder if she regrets her actions, if she wishes she had been a bit more humble.
Yet, they say humility has got nothing to do with it, it's a matter of principle! It's just plain wrong for your boss to turn you into a gofer. We've argued about it back and forth. My stand is, it all depends on how the boss asked. If for instance he/she was polite, inundated and genuinely unable to get the water, or simply tired and needed the help, then I would. I wouldn't attach much thought to it.
Below is an excerpt from a mail a blog reader sent me some weeks ago regarding an older family friend whose company she now works with.
"She helped me with the job so may be that is why.Yesterday when I was going for lunch she said I should help her bring food when I'm coming back.Becasue of that I didn't go and eat again.I am very qualified for the job they hired me to do and I don't want her to use me for errands.If she asks next time I will say just tell her no.When we are outside I can respect her as my big sister but in the office I will not allow it.That is my personal mindset but what do you think?"
What's your take on helping your boss/superior at the workplace with a few menial tasks? Would you call these ladies proud or principled? Were they right to say NO, or is it ok to help out occasionally? Would you have done what they did or acted otherwise?
More importantly, have you ever had to deal with innappropraitely demanding superiors or stubborn subordinates at your place of work? Please tell us how you handled the situation.