I’ve had my share of using people and being used by people. I know how annoying it is when someone depends on you too much for help, and I know how reticent yet desperate one can be to get help.
For my part, I’ve also had people who shut the doors and say up front that they’re too busy at the moment or they’d rather I try to get help somewhere else for a change. I’ve also been on the other side—trying to sugarcoat rejection (a habit which is slowly diminishing, thank God), trying to come up with an explanation that won’t get me in unnecessary drama with people who take everything personally, you know the likes.
The thing is, being in a (still relatively) new environment reminded me that lots of people try to beat around the bush. Recently someone’s asked me for help. She wants me to check her materials and whether or not the way she brings it during class would be good. I’ve been doing that since junior high, so that’s not really a problem.
During the actual meeting, though, that’s not what happened. I checked her materials, asked her what she’s come up with. Then she asked me to present it. Then she asked if she could record me saying it. Then she asked me for more arguments (the task was a debate that would later take place during class). My patience grew thin, but I still kept it cool.
Eventually, a sentence slipped out. One that says she actually wanted me to make all her arguments, and she’d just practice saying it for later. If only she were more perceiving, she would’ve seen the change in my expression.
Then, she asked if I could help her again the next day. I said I couldn’t since I already promised an old friend to check on another assignment (it was later on cancelled, but that’s not my point). What pissed me off was the two sentences that came next.
“Why would you help that friend of yours? Aren’t you being too nice?”
My reply: “Well, it’s my old and close friend. If I wouldn’t help her, why would I do such a crazy thing as helping you?”
The girl made an attempt to gain social pardon from me, but the damage is done. I’d rather have someone ask for a favor from me. You know, quid pro quo. Trying to be sly or sweet talk me won’t do any good to how I perceive you. In fact, it’ll probably backfire. A simple thanks is all I need.
I have a friend who’s awful at saying no. A few days ago she was slightly annoyed because she didn’t want too many kids copying her notes (and blaming her if it didn’t match the test questions). So after a kid came up and saw me holding a summary of the materials and asked if she could copy it, I pointed to my friend. She gave me a “WHY DID YOU PUT ME IN THAT POSITION!?” look. Lesson learnt—some people are too afraid of social pressure to say no. Even with me she needs to sugarcoat a subtle shake of the head with multiple apologies. That makes me uneasy. Meh.
On the other hand, yet another friend of mine (sorry, gotta protect anonymity, ha!) would gladly make me sulk a bit when she feels I’m taking too much advantage of her notes. Given, I’m disappointed at times, but not at her—it’s only because I have to do more effort to gain whatever it is I need.
In fact, I’m most comfortable with that last friend of mine. She’s quite the “no bullshit with me” kind of person. You won’t see it at first glance, and it doesn’t come out in her attitude, but in the way she deals with things and people.
Personally? My kind of person.
I really do wish people would be more direct when they ask for help or favors. It’ll save me a lot of trouble with social norms that just aren’t practical and exhaust me of what cheerful energy I managed to muster for that particular day.
Well, it’s in line with my lifetime resolution—being direct with people as long as it’s suitable. So that’s definitely something to keep in mind.
Goodness, I’m complaining again. *sighs* Well, what’s new with the world? (Or me, for that matter.)