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Pride or Principle? You Decide.

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. 


  1. Charity begins at home & respect is reciprocal... stupid,silly principles.... this is jus d first time he asked,f he did a second time den u cud politely tell him ur mind...serves her right!!!!

  2. I don't see anything wrong with helping out. Even your colleagues can ask u to bring somethingspecial for them. Maybe it's me but it doesn't remove anything from me.

  3. I don't see anything wrong with helping out. Even your colleagues can ask u to bring somethingspecial for them. Maybe it's me but it doesn't remove anything from me.

  4. Jobless just becos of a bottle of water from the fridge. He didn't say you should go and buy outside oh. *sigh

    And you dont think someone is pulling some strings in ur village?

    1. And to think that he even asked politely. Forget job now, you can't go on an errand for someone probably older than your eldest sibling? Smh

  5. There is nothing there. I can do that for a colleague I rapport well with talk more of my boss. If the person asked politely why not. I will only act that way if the person makes it a habit to send me around. Humility is key in getting ahead in life. If you are going to buy food and someone asks you nicely to buy for them, why not. J

  6. A boss quite older than you, ask you politely to get him water, and you begins at home.
    A friend of mine who works in one of the top oil and gas firm said a daughter of the CEO then (now chairman) of a top new generation bank came to serve (NYSC) in dr firm after graduating from a top notch foreign University. That one day they found her crying in a corner and when they asked her what the problem was, she said all other corpers were sent on errands by the main staff of the firm (such as please get me water, make me a cup of coffee blah blah blah), but nobody sends her anywhere, that she to wants to run errands ( this is a first class ajebutter o) and that she's not different from the other corpers. My friend said they were dumbfounded, but we're able to calm her and told her that they would send her on errands from that day. This is obviously a girl who was going to work in her daddy's bank after service, so does not need to rub the ego of any present 'oga' by bin ready to be errand girl.
    He said that day, he learnt what humility was.
    So to my ' I cannot run errand for my boss, cus wen it starts it neva ends' continue in ur ways o, and see how u will miss out on a lot of good opportunities. Thelma, tell ur friend not to put the experience she got from her former firm o, because if a present firm writes her former firm to confirm that she worked with them, the nasty things they will say about her, she sef go faint.
    Learn to respect elders, whether at work or home.

  7. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).

    It's not professional for the boss to request she get him a bottle of water, but she could also have handled the situation with more tact (and respect, I might add, because we may not lose our manners in the name of a career). No offense intended, but now that she's home all day, I bet she has time to make lots of trips to and from the fridge in her kitchen all day, everyday. Let's put reason before right.

    Anyway, I hope she's learnt something out of this, and makes for a better employee at her next job.

  8. *clears throat* *raises hand* I beg to differ Mas and Sir(s).

    Humility... yes. it's good to be humble but I also think we should define how we want to be treated.
    I did my IT in a big company and everyone in my dept. then was at least 5years older than me. But no one ever asked me to buy anything save Kunle. Now Kunle that day had a wound on his leg and he asked politely that I should please help him buy slippers. But it was a one time thing and I perfectly understood why.

    Fast forward to today.... i'm still the youngest and the only girl...(and nigerians have this thing that women should be the ones to do certain things... like share cake, pass the pizza around et al *rme*) one of my ogas asked me to make tea for him since I was going to the kitchen... no biggie.. I did.
    The next day... I was going to the kitchen and he asked for a cup of tea... now, i'm an engineer not a secretary or a tea girl. I politely told him no cuz i'm sure if I had not, it would have continued like that. He got the message and he stood up to go make his tea by himself. Shikenah. It is not a traditional setting... so why should you think because you're older, you can send people on errands. When it's not like you're in your family house? it is just wrong abeg. Before I came, was he not drinking tea? It's not about being proud or not being well trained. It's a formal setting where everyone's job is clearly defined. I'm a colleague not a personal assistant or secretary or tea girl.
    This same man would be the first to call kabuoy when there's pizza to share... i'm like errr... anyone can do that. he'll be like but you're female... and i'm like errr soo? Lol! (he actually enjoys looking for my "trouble"... not like I have anwyay)

    During NYSC, anyone that asks me to do anything outside my job description(which wasn't clearly defined anyway) ... I simply make it clear that i'll do it if it is convenient for me or if I can.
    These boundaries should be set... if you need a tea girl or someone to always buy you lunch, employ someone for that.

    Someone very close to me shops for her boss, buys office stuff(like kettle, tea et al) I'm like that's not your job!
    That's not to say if i'm going for lunch and someone asks me to buy somfn, I can't help. Or do things for my boss if he needs me to.
    But when you want to make it an everyday thing... or begin to act like you're entitled to it or rewrite my contract informally, i'll simply call you to order.

    Well, I don't think you friend was being silly or proud. She chose to set boundaries... it didn't turn out well but that's how she felt and she acted accordingly.
    I agree some battles are not worth fighting... well I guess you win some, lose some. She'll get a better job I hope. :)

    Ejoec... I understand your point but then... there's just so much one can take. if I had continued making tea for him... one day i'll get tired and it would be too late to correct it. so the best thing is to nip it in the bud. The setting/environment also matters a lot. If it's a very formal setting, it would be easy to set such boundaries and not worry about all that. If not, you'll just have to stick it out.

    1. " thing is to nip it in the bud...". I couldn't have added anything better to your comment. Nice one Kabuoy.

    2. When your crush says "nice one"
      *makosa* *alanta* looool!

    3. Kabuoy thanks o!I wanted to comment earlier but with previous comments saying she was proud,i just decided to hold my peace.
      Something similar happened to me during my Nysc days.I was posted to a private primary school & I made sure I put in my best but after I had worked for 5months,the HOD of the nur section came one morning & asked me to go and buy balloons from Ipodo market.I told her point blank that it wasn't my job,they had utility staff so she should send them.She hurriedly went to tell the headteacher & the next thing I saw was a rejection letter.I collected the letter,thanked them & left.They probably thought that would cause me problems during that period but God pass them.Though in some cases,we may just decide to be the nice girl & run the errand but it's best to set boundaries because some bosses can like to abuse humility.

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    5. Yep,its all about boundaries.
      Give em an inch and they be willing to take a mile.
      The only exception to this rule wld be to the people who actually own the biz. He who pays the piper...bla bla.
      Sometimes it's not just bout the monthly alerts u get for having a job.

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  9. When it becomes an everyday thing is well its a big deal
    The guy I worked for some months back asked me to help him buy something downstairs one time and I did,the next time he asked me to I said No ,that's not my job
    And I didn't go
    But if am going to get food and someone said I should help them get food in that same place what's the big deal
    I prefer to help a colleague than all this bosses that feel cos you are under them they can turn you to a slave
    Not gonna happen with me
    But I feel your friend was proud ,since it was the 1st time and he asked politely

  10. Forget humility o...I'm not running errands for nobody ... I watched as senior lawyers in my former firm turned junior lawyers to house helps. Sending them to buy recharge cards and food and even to the bank..these people are lawyers like you but bcos they decided to be " humble" you turned them to house boys .

  11. It's sheer pride and silly to start acting that way!!..
    Charity begins at home..iit's not like they're sent on d errand everyday, and if it's becoming a habit of the boss then they can politely turn him down n remind d boss of the office assistants.
    Ambition may take u far..but Character will keep you there.

  12. No one has asked what kind of environment she worked. You will not believe the things some people do to move up or stay relevant. I had an Oga who dobale'd for the chairman. Some Nigerians blur the lines between personal and professional life. They come to work and expect to be worshipped like they're home. HR boss expects junior colleagues to clean her house before they are promoted. The fact that she lost her job shows she works in a 'boy boy' environment. Even if she had given him some water. She would have lost her job for not dishing out his lunch. She's just not one of them. I lost a job because I was not ready to go on all fours; to kiss arse or give arse. In life, it's best to know where you stand on certain issues.


  13. Nigeria is the most unprofessional work environment. But it also takes a lot of tact to deal with it. Blurting out its not your job, isnt the way to go. Those kind of things are better addressed in the senior partners office.

    I had a Nigerian female boss who yelled at me in front of everyone including my subordinates for something i had no control over. I let her finish, walked back to my desk and marched my letter to HR. I explained calmly to HR that i was unwilling to work for a bully or an abusive person, afterall i never abused any of my junior team mates. I also tendered a resignation, and my boss tried to apologise privately and i told her since she decided to do the insulting publicly, she had to apologise publicly. She did and as soon as a better opportunity came along less than 3 months later she begged and offered to increase my pay, i humbly declined her offer and moved on.

  14. Our work environment and work culture is very very bad just like you said Miss Pynk. Even as workers, we do not know what obtains for fear of losing our jobs.

    It all boils down to how you want to be treated or addressed. A well mannered boss would never send you on errands except he/she is incapacitated.

    My previous boss won't even allow me help him with any menial task. He would tell me it's wrong and there are people assigned to do such.

    However considering that we have some bosses are sent from hell, it's, Important to be very tactful.

    I have seen senior bank officials send their junior colleges to get meat an food stuff for them to take home. I sure can't do that, best to nip all iranru in the bud before it gets out of hand.

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  18. This is tough one...I don't wanna sound hypocritical so lemme sit this out...the comments tho' to read...

  19. When I went to 'work' in one of our partners' offices in the UK, I observed that when the guys (all white) wanted to go get a cup of coffee or chocolate beverage, they would ask other colleagues (including us - Nigerians) around them if they wanted a cup and actually get it for them. No big deal; it was part of them. Ditto for food and any other item. That was not to say anyone had the right to send another on errand as they pleased.

    As I was reading the post, I tried to visualize the request for a bottle of water made by the boss. To me, it all depends on the circumstance; I would not have anyone turn me into what/who I am not or should not be. At the same time, my boss could politely ask me to help bring his pen, glasses or bottle of water from his fridge. I remember once when we had a meeting inside my MD's office and the chairs were not enough, he went to bring one himself which I sat on. If such person now asks me for a bottle of water, why wouldn't I oblige him?

    Also, we must recall that most Nigerians are very traditional people who respect age more than professionalism or wisdom; hence the need to define boundaries sometimes. However, if it is not habitual, helping to run little errands (defined errands - not the 'go to the market' kind of) once in a blue moon shouldn't be a big deal particularly for the overall boss. Sometimes, we need to stoop low to conquer although not too low as to lose our dignity. We need to apply wisdom.


  20. I think this testimony of mine is worth sharing. My name is Andrey and I live in Canada. I lost my job in a stoke broking firm some years ago. All efforts to get a new one proved abortive and for 3 years I was feeding on my savings and for the past 1 year I have been borrowing to feed. I went to several churches and I was told that they were forces working against my getting a job which I believed but none of them could help me get out. I never believed a psychic can cast a good spell to help me get my job back as I have always been skeptical about them. I saw Dr Etiosa online and I read his article: “how to know a fake spell caster” after which he dropped his email contact DRETIOSA@YAHOO.COM. I contacted him after reading the article and lo and behold, he told me some things to do. I obeyed him with full faith and believed and it took me just 7days to get my old job back with a promotion. Now I am a floor manager in my office, thanks to Dr Etiosa. I know you all have your doubts but I assure you that contacting Dr Etiosa will make you see the difference. He is real friends, he is wonderful. He also does love spells, beauty charms, he can help you get your ex back, he does property charms and many more. I introduced my friends to him and he has proven to be reliable and genuine. His contact is DRETIOSA@YAHOO.COM. I wish you luck.


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