The Thin Line between being Helpful or being a Pushover

Last updated 1 Dec 2015 . 3 min read

In a bid to try and please everyone, and to maintain different inter-personal relationships, you won’t realize when being courteous leads to being taken advantage of. Look out for the following signs to see where you stand and what you can do about it!

You’re the office doormat (without knowing it!)
A request from your co-workers to help out every now and then, becomes a norm. Colleagues soon become habituated to turn to you with their latest “emergency”. Or worse, use flattery like “You’re such a great writer, would you mind editing this document?” it’s time to recognize you’re being taken advantage of.

Being assertive is the key. Explain that in the future you won’t be able to help them out because it’s cutting into your own time and affects your deadline. This conversation may not be easy but it will be easier than dealing with your own boss when you don’t meet your deadline. Proactively anticipate an impending them in the moment of their crisis and try not to sway with praises.

You’re burning the midnight oil - (almost too often)
Everyone ends up doing time now and then. But if you’ve been regularly working overtime, keeping your own work for the ninth hour, you should expect to be acknowledged and rewarded in some way. It might be some form of recognition or better responsibility. But if it seems you’re not going to be rewarded in any way (in due time), recognize there's a problem.

Have a candid conversation with your boss and make sure he or she is aware of how much overtime you’ve been putting in and for whom. Suggest ways to resolve the issue and clarify the roles of each team member. If not, it’s high time you learn to say ‘no’.

You’re the office "wise owl"
Sometimes, knowing too much too often gets you in the limelight, but sometimes, it calls for unwarranted responsibilities. 

In situations like this, try to teach others the ropes. The saying ‘if someone is hungry don’t feed them, teach them to fish and they’ll go hungry no more’. This definitely holds true at the workplace. If the job requires in depth learning, make sure your team members’ sign up for training programs well before the storm sets in. It’s always satisfying when everyone in the team equally pulls their own weight.

Your ideas and opinions get plagiarized
Often colleagues catch you by the water cooler and indulge in random conversations about ongoing assignments and feedback. Soon your opinions are paraphrased in meetings with senior management and applauded even. All that’s left is you dumbstruck.

Document your suggestions and ideas. Never leave an opportunity to voice your opinion especially in the right forums and the right audience. In case you are railroaded, interrupt the person and let them know you won’t stand for plagiarism.

Remember, being a Good Samaritan is great (especially for moral science). But at the workplace, you must be conscious of your potential, ensure your efforts are not taken for granted and in the right direction. After all, only the shrewd will flourish...

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By Bonita Fernandes

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SHEROES - lives and stories of women we are and we want to be. Connecting the dots. Moving the needle. Also world's largest community of women, based out of India. Meet us at @SHEROESIndia

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