User coworkers

You’ve seen him (her) do it dozens of times: Turn on the charm whenever he wants something, then treat people as though they don’t exist once he has what he needs from them. Unlike a healthy team environment where most people pitch in to help each other, the User believes in a different kind of give-and-take relationship – you give and he takes.

If you don’t learn how to deal with this person, you may find yourself becoming resentful and unhappy at work. You can’t rely on bosses to fix it, because there’s a very good chance they’re not seeing the User’s behavior in the same way you are.  And you really shouldn’t ignore it, because it’s not going to just go away. The good news is that, while you won’t be able to change Users’ personalities, you can usually change their behavior when they are around you. Here are a few things you can try:

Quid Pro Quo

Every time he asks you to do something, strike a quid-pro-quo agreement before you do it. In other words, have him commit to something firm in return in advance. For example:

User: “Hey, you are so amazing the way you put those proposals together. Could I get you to help me with one of mine?”

You: “Sure, if you’ll cover off my calls so I can take Friday afternoon off…”

Make A Joke Of It

When he turns on the charm and then begins to ask your help, look right into his eyes, give him a big smile and light-heartedly point out what he’s doing. For example:

“You’re only being nice to me because you want something!” or, “You want something, don’t you? You are so shallow!”

Just Say No

Play along with him, until he pops the question, then just smile and say “no.” If he asks why you won’t help him, be direct, eg: “Fred, if I thought for a second that you would help me out in return some day, I’d say yes. But that’s not likely to happen, now, is it?”

Good luck!


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