Be the Expert: How would you respond to this co-worker?

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How would you handle this?

Years ago, I had a co-worker who needed my help to finish a project that (1) he was leading but (2) it would also help my team. “Sure,” I said, “just find me tomorrow and I’ll show you how to do it.”

The next day came and went. He never found me.

Later, when he was asked about the project, he sighed and said he hadn’t gotten it done. He asked if I could help him later.

“Dude, you were supposed to find me,” I told him sharply.

“I know…” he said. “I was just busy…sometimes if you want someone to do something, you have to go above and beyond.”

I exploded. “Listen, if you need my help, you need to find me — not the other way around.”

Then he said something I’ll never forget: “Technically, you’re right. But you have to decide if you want to be right…or you want this to get done.”

Is he right? How would you respond?

This isn’t just about co-workers, by the way. This situation opened my eyes to an unexpected twist of persuasion that I use to this day.

I’m curious how you would handle this. Share your answer in the comments below.

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396 Comments

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  1. I believe hindsight is a bitch.
    Knowing now what happened, it is easy to formulate a “what-I-would-have-done” theory.

    So, what I would have done is: when the co-worker approached me asking for help, I would try to schedule a specific time to meet and discuss the project needs and what to do. Maybe add to the calendar.

    People seem to be always so busy all the time, unless something is actually added to a calendar (and shared with the other people involved), the task will be forgotten – unless, of course, you really need it done! Than that falls on you to follow up and through.

    • I actually deal with kind of situation on an every week basis (at least) So what I do typically is that I will tell the person asking for help when to meet with me and I will wait keeping busy while I wait of course. If possible I will make notes that will help the other person and get done anything I can without that person being there . I will then find another time in my day when I can find the person in need of help ask how they missed finding me that morning ,listen to what ever excuse offered then lay out what I have already done to help hand over any notes I had made then ask if there is anything else needed to complete the task. I learned that I can be “right” or I can get things done and be happy . Its easier at times to just get things done . While this option isnt always the first choice it is the best in the situation you have laid out , in my opinion

  2. In this case “it would also help my team” I will take ownership and get it done. Taking a lesson from stephen covey – Begin with the end in mind.

    • If it was an important part of Ramit’s plan he would have scheduled time for it in his own week and taken response-ability. He is reflecting that it would be a benefit to his team.But ultimately it didn’t get done – Covey’s lesson would have been a relationship one – the space between stimulus and response, and in it lies our freedom to choose. Why explode – the guy is hardly Frankl’s Nazi persecutors – he is an office politician. Key lesson – it would have benefited me and didn’t get done, so maybe I should have done it.Covey and his thinking underpin most of the discourse in conversations of this type – great that you are an enthusiast. I’m wondering if in this situation Covey would have said; “Good – you see things differently. Help me understand”

  3. I don’t have time to argue with people about who’s right and who’s wrong… Take initiative and get the thing done. That’s my thought!

  4. It wasn’t clear if he ‘sold’ it as something that would help him with a side benefit of helping you, or as a help to you with a side benefit to helping him. That would determine the tone I had with him.

    In any case, if it helped me, I would have searched him out.

  5. It depends on the context. But if it’s a low key one-on-one talk, then he’s right.

    He doesn’t need to hear about how important you are that he comes and finds you.
    If it was that important to him he would have found you.

    But since it benefits your team, definitely take the initiative and bug him about it to get it up the priority list.

    In the end it’s his project to manage, and his ass on the line, with the side benefit of having it help you and your projects.

    The correct response would be, “I’ve been available, and am still available, lets set up a time and place.”

  6. I guess in terms of just getting things done as a team it is best to help him out. I am always wary of saying to someone to come get me when they need me, what if I am busy at the time? It’s probably best to say – I’m free at 3pm so let’s do it then. I understand how things get away from you and you wind up forgetting things – always best to have a schedule.

  7. I’m going to disagree with most of the posts here.

    If your colleague was leading the project, then it was up to him to have a timeline and determine all the resources that he needed. If he found that he hadn’t prepared well enough, or if something unexpected came up, then asking for the help of team members would have become necessary.

    However, if you ask for help, and someone tells you they are available, but you don’t take the initiative to find them the next day – you are at fault. There are repercussions to not following through.

    If I was in your shoes, and there are things that I had to do, I would have politely told them that my available time was yesterday – not now. I now have other things to take care of and don’t have any available time today. By setting boundaries like this, you encourage people to respect your time and input.

    • I agree with you! The colleague asked for help and he was the lead. If he really wanted Ramit’s help, he should’ve scheduled it on his calendar. Setting boundaries is vital!

    • I feel the same way. I don’t think I would deal well with someone who told me:
      “You are right, but would you rather be right or get this done?”

      That is why I can’t handle working for other people. People like that guy need to go. I would want to fire him.

    • I’m with you as well. It depends on the circumstances, but the way the scenario is set up it seems that the guy is the project lead and Ramit was willing to do a favor for him. If he doesn’t want to take him up on that and even goes so far to turn around and say he’s not going to finish it without him… well, tough cookies. He can feel free to shoot himself in the foot, it’s not Ramit’s job to deal with his laziness.

      But if the project was something that would be hugely beneficial for his team, sometimes you have to deal with idiots like this and attempt to work around their attitude. I’d still make him come to me though… use psychology. “I know something you can do that would make *Respected Superior* fall all over themselves. They’ll want to make you Employee of the Month. It has to do with X, but I don’t have time to share it all right now, so let’s meet up at Y.” Makes them feel they’ll get the glory and curious about whatever your plan is.

    • I agree with Dave Grant – he asked for help and it’s his job to follow up.

    • I agree you were right Ramit, but he almost sounds a little beaten down, maybe, and not worth getting mad at. Either that, or he’s a game player, and you will be having other issues with him in the future, if thats the case.

  8. Interesting situation. Most people would feel justified in saying that if someone asks for your help, then undoubtedly they should be the one to seek your assistance, not the other way around. However, the question posed makes me think about what type of attitude is more effective when accomplishing a common goal. Being proactive, or sitting around waiting for instruction?
    I would prefer to be proactive, and take the bull by the horns to get the job done.

  9. Once a man told me: Do you want to get what you want or do you want to win the argument. That’s kind of the same point and I live on that since then. Works really well. Sometimes you have to swollow your pride.

    • I totally understand and agree about the pride thing, it’s just that this guy sounds like a contentious asshole. I would want to get it done, but have no desire to work with someone like that, who probably has a terrible work ethic.

  10. This kind of thing happens with friends too. You meet on the street and say “yeah, call me, I’d love to have coffee,” but that is a vague promise, and rarely happens. However, in this situation it is his responsibility to ask for help. I would be really frustrated too.

    I guess in the end my response would depend on how much his mistakes had a negative impact on me, and if that impact cannot be pushed aside, I would make it a point to be the initiator next time by setting up a solid appointment on the spot. So instead of “call me, I’d love to help,” say “Let’s check in again at 2:15 tomorrow and we’ll see how I can help you. Does that work for you?”
    By asking for a confirmation from your co-worker you’re engaging him in the commitment as well.

    If, on the other hand, his outcomes didn’t reflect badly on me, I would just note to myself that he requires clear and specific communication and then I’d let it go.

    I hope that helps!

  11. I wouldn’t have sought you out. If a person volunteers (paid or not) their services, I don’t feel I should have to hunt said person down to finish the project. Of course, pre-planning a time and date could’ve prevented this issue.

    • Ramit didn’t exactly “volunteer” his services. The guy asked for help and Ramit said yes, “Find me when you need me tomorrow.” This is a fairly direct interaction that clearly leaves the responsibility on the other guy who was asking for help FROM Ramit. that’s my opinion.

  12. Tell him to fuck off.

  13. With the benefit of hindsight, things are always more clear. But you said it yourself Ramit- that it would “help your team”. As the leader of the team, your responsibility was to take charge, especially on the things that benefit them. This gentleman had proven once before that he was not reliable. It is a “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….” kind of scenario. Leaders. Lead. Leaders, take charge. Leaders don’t let others dictate when and if things get done.

  14. Take charge. Get it done. Put my signature all over it. If I’m willing to help it’s probably important enough to just go ahead and do.

  15. Ramit! Your co-worker might be twisted, but you promise to help him!

    Often times we think that others should seek us out because we feel important.
    Personality has a lot to do with it, when I am in a team, I don’t wait on the team to find me, I find the team and add my two cents.

    I will share my experience with a you that I had with a friend. I email him a number of times. He never responded, So I kept email him a couple more times. He then responded, Devon you are flooding my Email. I wrote him a letter and said, When someone reach out to you, and your first line of response is you are flooding my mail, that serves as a insult. I said in the future, look pass others defects and see their needs. It took a lot for me to reach out to anyone for help. I felt insulted when you stated I am flooding your email. Which I was not.

    So Ramit, in the future see pass yourself, and see the other person needs than his or her defects.

    Devon L Wilson
    Author of the Sanctuary the Open Door.
    Amazon.com

  16. If he was the one that needed help, then he should have sought you, not the other way around. The fact that he didn’t shows that you weren’t his priority.

  17. Good day – unfortunately the co-worker is correct. We live in a strange political world, where things are not what they should be.

    Someone has also mentioned correctly that best would be to schedule a specific date & time.

    Finally, I believe that an e-mail trail (paper trail in olden days) is definitely required.

    Take care.

  18. I think people get so caught up in what they think other people are supposed to be doing that they waste time complaining about someone else then doing something about it. Should the project manager be getting it done, scheduling the meeting? Yes. But clearly he’s not doing it, so if you want something done then you do what you have to do to get it done yourself. I do this a lot in my job. If someone’s not reviewing a document they need to approve on their own, I schedule a meeting where we step through it point by point, together, for hours. Is it painful? Yes. Should I really have to do it? No, approving said document is part of their job responsibilities. But it gets the job done, which sitting around and complaining doesn’t do.

  19. In my experience, most organizational groups struggle with this – is the team focused on delivering the objectives of the project, or on “the way the work gets done”?

    Idealisticaly, leaders go to great lengths to see these 2 objectives aligned, ensuring that meeting objectives IS the way for team members to be recognized. Identifying roles/responsibilities clearly & empowering the team with authority.

    In practice, effective team members can consider 3 things before deciding on their course of action.

    Am I more invested in a positive outcome for this project than my personal perception of “how it should be done”?

    If I choose to sacrifice project performance, can that be of greater STRATEGIC benefit to the organization?

    If so, what other steps to I need to take to expose, support & drive that strategic change?

  20. It would depend on how much it would help me. If s/he needed the help, should be their responsibility. But if it would help me enough, I would take the initiative. (I would only hire someone like that, that makes excuses rather than actions, if the potential was there to coach them into action rather than excuses.)

  21. I’d be pissed off, but it sounds like you’re the one who was more concerned with getting it done than him. It sounds like you’re the one who needed it done because it would have benefitted your team.

    In this case, the fact that he’s being a dick is irrelevant. Seek him out, force his hand, and get it done. 95% of people are sheep, even if they are nominally “leading.”

  22. I would use Boomerange for Gmail to send him a reminder email that day. You can schedule an email to be ‘sent later’.

    So right after you said “find me tomorrow’, you take 5 seconds to schedule a ‘Hey, just a reminder to come find me to finish project X. – Ramit’

  23. The comments about the calendar are spot on: nothing scheduled means nothing done.

    But beyond that, It depends on if it getting done was more important to you, or to him. If him, tell him it was his responsibility to follow up, and/or create a meeting invite, not yours.

    If you, then you should have stopped to help him then and there, or set a time for later that day, and not tomorrow unless absolutely necessary.

    But after making a comment like the “above and beyond” one, I’d have turned it back onto him: it was his project not yours and you were doing him a favor by helping.

    Final thought: Never trust that person again with anything important.

  24. By telling him to find you, you were testing your value and using your ego. I do this all the time setting up appointments. “If its important enough, they will seek it out” I’m testing their devotion to their project. And testing their desire for me to lift a finger. But at the end of the day I find that doesn’t serve me or anyone. My bloated ego doesn’t put food on my table. When I choose to be a man of action and the aggressor, I always come out on top. I look good, I feel good, and the project is done better than if I dragged my heels going into it.

  25. So many factors.

    If you wanna let him know that you’re serious, then say: “It’s not about being right, it’s about time management and it’s about you spending so much time working and not getting anything done.”

    Besides, if he’s your friend, he oughta know about 80/20.

  26. This works in parenting and relationships as well. You can be right or you can be happy, they don’t always coincide.If it is of no consequence I choose happiness, being right is usually about ego.

  27. “Come find me” never, ever works. If you want to meet you hammer out a time right then and there or you will both forget.

  28. “Technically, you’re right. But you have to decide if you want to be right…or you want this to get done.”

    …They are not mutually exclusive so how about both? Lets get this done.
    We both have a stake in this, so before we start lets promise each other that we will set each others expectations and stick to them so there are no more unnecessary hold-ups.

  29. I think about it for minute, and then say you’re right. I’m getting in my own way. Getting this job done is more important for my group and me, than feeling the honor of being right.

  30. I’d have a hard time not exploding myself with that defensive response. I don’t agree with him. If you spend all your time worrying if you’re right, then how will you grow and ever create success? I’d say something to the nature of: “Right” comes in time, maybe, but I think it is about trying, putting it out there, failing a bit and then getting back up and trying again. Shit gets done when you commit, reach out and talk and do and communicate and stop expecting anyone will do it for you.

    I’m learning the more I take responsibility for what I’m creating, the more people follow and work together with me.

    Now, if I ask for help I also nurture the crap out of those relationships and I follow through and follow up, and make sure we’re communicating and I’m not waiting for some magic fairy dust to fly. I don’t know if this is “right” but it keeps me moving forward.

  31. I am in this situation fairly regularly.
    If someone tells me they need help or doesn’t pick up important work, I will generally take it on and follow up without waiting for them to approach me, though, if I tell someone I need help, I take it as my responsibility to tell them what I need help with – if that person follows up with me, it shows me what type of person they are.

  32. It is ultimately the project manager’s responsiblity to ensure s/he is meeting the timeline and requirements. If he had asked me for help, I would have sent him a meeting request or email reminding him that I’m available.

    I recently ran into a similar situation where someone asked for a significant amount of my time to help with a project that would be beneficial to many different areas in my department. I set up meetings with the vendors, got approval from my manager, and scheduled meetings. And nothing happened. I followed up 2 times and then left it up to the PM to get back to me. When she did come back to me, roughly 6 weeks later, I had to tell her I could no longer help. Was it my responsibility to still be available? Offer help even though I don’t have the time? You can only go so far.

  33. I would state – that he is right, and that the time we spent going back and forth could have been time spent on going over what help was needed with the project. As failing the project would not benefit anyone, its best to just get things done. Therefore, lets move forward and set an official appointment time, if now would not work, for us to meet and go over what was needed for the project.

    Additionally, I would make a mental note that going forward, any time he asked for help, to immediately set time off in the schedule in which we could have a meeting (no matter how brief) – to discuss assistance needed. I would follow up with an immediate calendar invite – so that the time was blocked out in their calendar, and they therefore would not be able to become distracted and “get busy” with something else.

  34. Important tasks need to be scheduled. If they were serious they should’ve setup a meeting to deal with the issue.

    I see it as a failure on both, the result benefits all parties yet nobody took initiative.

  35. Important tasks need to be scheduled. If they were serious they should’ve setup a meeting to deal with the issue.

    I see it as a failure on both, the result benefits all parties yet nobody took initiative.

  36. Sounds like a person who is probably still working the same job. Expecting others to find you because what you are doing has “perceived benefits” to them is a surefire way to keep yourself at the same level of employment, because as I’ve learned from IWT most people won’t take action. You being the person who doesn’t give in to this culture probably means you won’t be at the job long, but you’ll ultimately be making more and enjoying life more after you leave.

    “Sometimes if you want someone to do something, you have to go above and beyond.” That entire statement is a blunder and a highlight of his inabilities. Going “above and beyond” means to go around the problem to get the result. He IS the problem, and his advice is to go around him to get it done. Not a very good way to sell himself.

  37. This actually falls in a grey area, because it’s hard to tell from the information whether this person is on your work team, and supposed to be leading it, or a totally different work team that needs bailing out – to mutual benefit. Context matters.

    If you’re all on the same work-team, I agree with just about everyone here.

    If it’s the latter situation, that changes. I would disagree with 90% of the posts. It’s his project, he’s the lead, it’s his responsibility, he asked for a favour, since you’re not even on his work team – and now he can’t even take initiative for following through for his own team? It’s now YOUR team’s problem to take care of? Really?

    That’s disrespectful of him and ultimately harms the work relationship, so, in the end, bailing him out may teach him he can continue this behavior, to the detriment of all, long term. I see that as penny-wise and pound-foolish.

  38. Being that at the time you two were peers i would say that he is mostly right. Im sure you had a point in that day where you could have went out of your way to find this person and help them quickly because this will help your team.
    what is the reason you did not find him was it because then you could say “i told him to find me i would have helped but he did not find me!” that way their faults are not made yours as well.
    and technically he did find you just at the end of the day

    But i would have responded like this “if you would have came and got me instead of going “above and beyond” to not finish it the project would already be done most likely”

  39. I’d go find him if I didn’t have larger priorities ahead of me.

  40. Marc Sandor Woolf Link to this comment

    Initially I would have narrowed the time frame that I was available – “I can block out time between 1 – 3pm. Otherwise I’m booked solid …”

    Then I would have confirmed s/he would be at the agreed upon location at the agreed upon time.

    Neither party is right or wrong; your co-worker made a choice not to show up and is not being accountable for his/her actions.

    Regarding your explosion, Ramit, what was it specifically that pushed your buttons so you reacted to someone else’s irresponsibility?

  41. I think it really depends on how important the project is to you.

    Essentially, with someone like who you described, it is quite likely that would end up leading the project by proxy, which is usually a challenge of its own.

    So, if the project and its expected benefit was important enough to you for you to take it on yourself, then definitely push him to get it done.

    But, if its not important, just write it off as a learning lesson for your co-worker. After all, it is his project, at the end of the day.

    Then again, getting it done might have other benefits–for your career and network.

    It is always a hard choice.

  42. It’s a little reminiscent of “Do you want to be sexy, or do you want to be rich?”. I don’t know what kind of investment you had in the project that your friend was working on, but if there was significant value / benefit to your team, then I would have taken the initiative to follow-up with him.

    I agree with what other posters have said about scheduling a time on the spot instead of one person having to look for the other – more efficient that way.

  43. I think the bitch of it that you have to influence his ass rather than rule it. Which means be precise with your help, not find me on Monday, but let’s talk on Monday at 10am by the coffee for 25 minutes about your status. Your prep for the meeting is to spend 5 to 10 minutes thinking about the stuff you can do to help and what free time you have.

  44. At his second request for help, before ‘Dude, you were supposed to find me’, I would’ve initiated the follow-up since the colleague failed to do the follow-up the first time.

  45. I am finding, more often than not, that people hind when they become overwhelmed – and that overwhelming feeling is from fear. So you agreed to help. You right in expecting him to put on his big boy pants and set up a time to actually do what needed to be done/ but he won’t in fact many people wont… so instead of saying Find me… the answer might have been one of a direction action – I am free NOW or in 10 minutes or tomorrow and set up a time. If he says he’ll call you have to babysit and say lets get your secretary or your day-minder right now and set the time.

  46. I’ll help him whether it benefits my team or no. I will learn anyway. Then we argue after. I see no point of arguing over something that is not even halfway done. Since he found me let’s do this!

  47. At one job a long time ago, we had a “team building exercise” where we had 4 tables with 10 people sitting at a table. Each person was given an identical puzzle to solve – just a regular simple wooden puzzle, with several geometric pieces that needed to be arranged in the right order to complete the puzzle. The pieces were all mixed up and distributed randomly to all the people at your table.

    Here was the rule: you could not speak, and you could not point. The only thing you were allowed to do was GIVE AWAY one of your puzzle pieces to someone else.

    There was a competition to see which table could finish all their puzzles first. We quickly finished all our puzzles — except one person, sitting right across from me, just could not solve his puzzle. He didn’t seem to realize that he had all the pieces he needed. He just couldn’t solve it. We waited anxiously for about 15 seconds for him to figure it out, but he was just totally stumped! What can we do???

    Well, it was simple. We could only do 1 thing: give away one of our own puzzle pieces! So, I gave him one of my puzzle pieces, and then another. Of course, my puzzle was now incomplete. But this was enough to give him a new perspective, and he quickly solved his own puzzle, and then gave me back the extra pieces. And I quickly solved my own puzzle too, and we won the competition. :-)

    Summary: Your co-worker was right. Sometimes, if you really need to get something done, you have to step up and take responsibility for the whole solution, not just your own piece of it.

  48. Neither of you handled that perfectly (love my Hindsight Glasses). But what an interesting twist on his part.

    He was the “lead” – as the lead its his job to manage the tasks and the people involved. I’m assuming you weren’t sitting idly at your desk with no work while he was busy not finding you? He should have said – GREAT, thanks Ramit. Let’s sit down in 10 minutes and we’ll hash it out.

    You – telling him to ‘find you’ – probably turned him off. He was in a position of power, being in the lead role and he expected you to defer to him. Instead you were setting the tone, by telling him he needed to find you. He was busy and probably feeling overwhelmed and when you tell him to find you, it probably triggered him into a defensive mode. If it had been a different personality – someone more self-confident and sure of his role – you would have had a totally different interaction. And probably would have gotten it done in record time!

  49. Everyone is different–some people need their hand held and others don’t. When you learn that someone needs extra help, then you have to do what it takes to successfully work with them. So in this case, this dude needs his hand held, so I will take steps to make sure he’s taken care of–so I would put things on calendars when dealing with him and not trust him to be responsible for himself.

  50. If some has the courage to ask me for help I am usually willing to go out of my way to be available to help. I would have checked in with him the next morning to schedule a time to get together to get the job done.
    My tag line is : Making things happen!

  51. It really depends on who actually stood to benefit here. If he was doing the whole thing to benefit you, then the onus is on you to make it happen if you really want it.

    If the benefit to you was just a side benefit to the real benefit being for him, then the onus is on him. The person who stands to gain, or who ultimately wants/needs it done is usually going to be the one who has to take the initiative and get things done. If you were just twiddling your thumbs waiting for him to take the initiative for a project that was really for you, I’d say he’s more right than wrong on this one.

    However, based on the wording that “He was leading, but it would ALSO benefit my team.” I’d say he dropped the ball, and made his own bed. If you were hoping to get any real benefit from it, sometimes you have to be the one who takes the initiative, even if you’re right in principle.

    You say “Later when he was asked…” Asked by whom? Was it by you?

  52. My response would be to offer an appointment time that would suit both needs and discuss the matter. This would allow me to offer help but place the responsibility of the co-worker who sought my advice to get the job done.

  53. It’s funny, an executive told me this exact phrase albeit in a much different situation. I, like you had the moral high ground on an issue, and had every right to say “This is on you!” to another party who had severely dropped the ball. However, due to political and other concerns, my executives advice was to take another approach, to take it on the chin and continue to help, way beyond what was expected in order to get the job done.

    In this situation, I’d measure the effect of acting, not acting would have before I decided to pursue your colleague.

  54. Well after I internally roll my eyes at his wonderful attitude. My experience with today’s schedule vs tomorrow’s schedule is that today is real, tomorrow is just theoretical to some people. I give them some time, and then send a quick non-threatening message. I need to open up a block of time, when do you want to do that thing? There’s no point fuming about it at your desk when you can just bypass someone’s laziness engine.

  55. I probably would have been mad, too. At the same time, if this would have helped your ultimate goal, things that could’ve been done are:

    Text or call him when you’re free and tell him to stop by.
    Email an abbreviated instruction list that could help him get started.
    Have a colleague run by his office and tell him you’re available or ask if they can help.

  56. IT was HIS project. His choice if he needed your help or not

  57. true….but it’s not your question to answer but his. How he answered should be interesting-let us know what happen afterward!
    have a great day!

  58. In my openion, I would try to help him out as he had asked for help. By now he has already understood the importance of taking help from right people at right time. So, I would try my best to solve his problem.

  59. I would have responded thusly,

    “Who is right or wrong is beside the point now. Let’s just agree with one another that the next time one of tells us we will find the other that we actually find the other person and focus on what we can do to get the project done on time as it’s important to both of us. So, what did you need my help with again?”

  60. It’s all about status. If he needs the help less than you benefit from helping him, it’s on you to drive. Especially if he is a more senior / more busy person. Share the accountability to get it done by making the value prop clear to the other party and then you’re both motivated to make it happen. It can backfire though if you get a perceived reputation as being flaky / “oh yeah, working with him/her is great but you always have to be the one to chase them up” (I worked with a team member who was widely known to be like this and so everyone else always managed him, rather than vice versa).

  61. I met many people like that in both dating and business. Sometimes friends do that too. They tell you they will do something like calling/texting you but they never do. The reasons vary, sometimes it is because they’re really pre-occupied with something else and sometimes it is because they just don’t care enough about the issue. In my opinion, if somebody told me that he/she would call me on a certain day but didn’t call, I wouldn’t get angry immediately. I’d send them a polite message reminding them about the stuff we had agreed on. If they kept postponing the project or simply became unresponsive I’d stop contacting them and find a way to finish the project with somebody else’s help or on my own. If somebody is serious about meeting you: (1) They would meet you on the date and time you agreed to meet (2) they would offer to re-schedule the meeting if something came up.

    Erm actually all the rules I use in dating, I also use them all in business. That includes the rules about dealing with flaky people..I’d suggest setting up a time in addition to date to meet up. Show them that you’re serious about the project because some people think you’re like them, meaning you are “laid back” as they are and it wouldn’t be a big deal for you if they just disappeared.

  62. I handle this sort of thing in the same way I handle my Inbox. Once the onus has been put on someone else to run with something, I archive the email.

    If they need my help or want to bring me in, great. If not, fine. Either way, that task isn’t going to suck up any more of my bandwidth until the person brings me in on it.

  63. Hi Ramit, I agree with you- this guy would’ve drove me up the wall! But since this was going to benefit the team, I would’ve taken it as a learning experience for both of you- what to do and not to do, and arranged a time to meet and work on the project. No burning bridges!

  64. It’s NOT a question of pride or moral high ground. It’s about priorities and taking the path of least resistance.

    If you needed the project done, then it doesn’t matter who the lead is on paper, what matters is that the project gets completed. Would you rather yell at someone for not meeting a deadline, or actually have the desired output?

    It’s easy to say people are wrong, or people need to change, but it’s much more difficult to get someone to change. It’s much easier to change yourself to get the most out of another person.

    In your case, Ramit, I hope your threw your pride out the window and helped move the project along. Aside from the short-term benefit of getting your deliverables when you need them, it also has the long-term benefits of creating a relationship with the person you helped, and of strengthening your own reputation as a person who gets results.

  65. No he is not right. If I need someone’s help I would make sure that I reached out to them as soon as possible because that person might think you handled it on your own after the fact. Although it would have benefited my team it was his project. I wouldn’t want to take over the project because then that would have been another problem.

    Point blank you ask for help you follow up and don’t expect the person to approach you about it. I mean you asked for help not the other way around…

  66. TBH…if it were important enough for you to be upset about, then it was likely important enough for you to take responsibility for the project.

    Personally I learned a while ago, if the outcome is important to me, I never leave my fate in the hands of someone else if at all possible.

    Think about it, IF you were upset about him NOT coming to find you, then you had some skin in the game too. Why not take responsibility for it?

    I can’t judge by saying who was wrong or right…that’s pointless. And to a degree his response was appropriate. Do you wanna be right or be done? ;-) If you want the project done, then who better to take responsibility for it, than you? That’s my 2 cents…

  67. While it would be very nice if people like this actually took responsibility for themselves and did what they already knew they should have been doing, in my experience that almost never actually happens.

    Unfortunately, there only seems to be a small number of people in this world – 10% perhaps – who not only take responsibility for themselves and their work, but genuinely want to see their tasks get accomplished and actually take pride in doing their work well and completely.

    This may have at least something to do with the fact that most people don’t choose their professions so much as end up with them, but it’s been a rare case in which I’ve actually been paid to do something I want to do and yet I still always take pride in doing it well.

    So, while it is tempting to get angry at people like this, the fact is you’re unlikely to change them and if you want to get through your own life efficiently you often end up cast as their babysitter in addition to your own tasks.

    Or, to put it classically, some of us just end up as our brother’s keeper.

    They may be perfectly nice people who we really like personally, but in any form of work the best we can ever really hope for is to learn to direct these people and use them as tools, learning to push them into the situations in which they can make the best use of their skills that they often refuse to leverage for themselves.

    I suppose that at a certain point I simply decided to stop being frustrated with people who act like this, accepted that this is the way they are, and tried to find ways to make them useful for myself and the work we were doing.

    So, in the moment, when he didn’t come and find me I probably would have tracked him down and made him come with me. Of course, I also would have made sure at least a handful of people knew that I was helping him.

  68. I have these types of situations come up at my job, where someone needs my help, but getting the project done is mutually beneficial. I try to schedule time with them to complete the task. If that doesn’t work I will follow up the next day to see if the person still needs my help. If so, I will help immediately, or try again to schedule time. If that doesn’t work, I may try one last time a day or two later. After that I feel I have gone above and beyond and unless I have a huge stake, I’m done. I’m very interested to hear your take on this.

  69. You handled it fine. And you also now know this guy is a chump.

  70. So I think the question Ramit is asking here is similar to when my husband offers to take out the trash, and then doesn’t. Is it better that I leave the trash alone so I can point out that he failed to follow through (being right) or take the trash out myself (getting it done)? What if it’s my child rather than my husband?

    There was a great podcast by the Get-It-Done Guy about five years ago (found it here) that has stayed with me. The idea behind it is, you have to decide, what is your primary end goal here? If your primary goal is that the project gets done because it will help your team, then you take the initiative to follow up. If your primary goal is that your coworker learns they won’t get your help without putting in the effort to follow-up, then you let the project not get done.

  71. I’m actually amazed that most of these responses place the problem on you (Ramit). The co-worker was the lead person on the project and responsible for completing it. He failed. If he didn’t search you out for help the next day…the assumption is he didn’t need your help anymore.

    It’s utterly ridiculous that people think you should have searched him out….and even more so that you should have to do his work. He was responsible. He failed. Further (and assuming you’re higher up the food chain in the business), I’d also explain to this co-worker that his approach to this project will likely not lead to other projects (and no chance to add more value)…or even fired.

  72. I believe that as a top performer we should go above and beyond at times. I would have reached out to him via email at the beginning of the day alerting him to the fact that he asked me for help and that I am a willing participant. I believe that that is more than enough. The email will serve as a reminder that he asked for help and also that I am supportive.

  73. I have learned that people generally only have their own interests in mind and will not look out for your interests. So, I would say technically that you were right, he should have came to find you. However, since both parties have a vested interest in getting this project completed, I would have followed up with the coworker to find out how I could help. Taking initiative is more productive than sitting around and waiting.

  74. This depends upon the size of the project, the interrelationship between this project and the importance to your employer / the person who retains your services. I think with hindsight if this was important to me and my boss, I would have helped or at least demonstrated making contact to offer support.

  75. Communication breakdown. Since neither of you set a specific time you both were at fault and have to accept that break down and come up with a plan of action to make it work and follow through on your original promise to him. He didn’t really promise you anything or give you conditions of satisfaction.. sounds like you assumed it in your initial conversation (and he sounds like a bit of a turd with that kind of reply to you). So just apologize to the dude and re-schedule with a specific time that works for you both but before you do that you must get him to commit to his conditions of satisfaction that holds him accountable to his initial request for help.

  76. He’s right. You should have stepped up. The project would help your team. I’m guessing would also help the organization your team was a part of and would help this other guy. By stepping up and helping this guy you’re building trust, respect, and authority with a coworker. You’re also showing everyone you’re willing to do what it takes for the whole organization to succeed, not just yourself.

  77. I’d fire that guy, then take notes about his reframing skills.

  78. What he said to you seems a bit manipulative. If it’s his project, he ought to be responsible for it. On the other hand, if you were really that invested in the outcome, maybe it’s right for you to take the initiative.

  79. I personally have come across the beginning portion of this scenario. I take ownership of the portion I’ve been asked to assist with and ensure to follow up the following morning if I haven’t received the required information. Utilizing my calendar I can plan my day and ensure that missing information is acquired in a timely manner. The last thing I’ll allow is the opportunity for someone to use me as their scapegoat. I’ve seen how some colleagues fail to complete projects on time, primarily due to a lack of planning and follow through on their part, and if asked to assist and you’ve agreed then some liability does lie on you to get the portion you agreed to complete. If they fail to provide the essential information or requirements so you can complete it and you’ve followed up with them requesting the information, then it should be rightly concluded that they don’t need you any longer for that portion of the project.

  80. Say initially that you had one time and that time only to met, no make ups instead of just saying come see me aka “my time is not valuable”

  81. I had that type of situation a lot at my last job. Except ambiguous to-do list items really stress me out, especially if someone else is involved. That means they could show up when I’m in the middle of something and it could take 2 hours to help them. Or they could show up just as I’m getting back from lunch and we’ll bang it out in 10 minutes. Not knowing is what would stress me out, so I would have found the co-worker the next day (even though I told him to find me) and try to take care of it as early as possible. If he was busy, I’d put as much of it as possible in email form and hopefully only have to answer specific, short questions later.

    This only applies if the task benefits me as well (or if my boss wants me to help.) If it’s 100% a time suck for me and a huge help for him, he’ll have to schedule something in my calendar, and re-schedule if he’s 5 minutes late and I move on to something else. Not because I don’t want to company to get this done. But because the company will be better off if he learns to schedule things in advance when they’re mission critical.

  82. Hi Ramit, I don’t think you’re asking for what you should have done in the situation to this point, but rather what to do once you were in the situation (& we all do have misunderstandings or disagreements with people even when we are communicating very well overall). It’s easy to say that with hindsight I would have made an appointment to speak with him when he first approached me.

    I would be annoyed with what he said to you because I think he’s being hypocritical (he could have gone above & beyond too rather than under perform by communicating his agreement – even if tacitly by not making another suggestion – to come find you the next day). I would be tempted to tell him so, but unless this unreliability on his part was a repeated issue for you I would take a deep breath and say something like: ‘Okay, you make a good point that I’ll use in future. I think there was a miscommunication the other day about how we’d get together to work on this. Everyone’s busy so in future I’ll be be more careful to make a time to meet & schedule it. I’ve got you now so is this a good time to get started on it, or is there better time for you to do it today.’

    I put in abbreviations because I would make it sound casual, natural and yet carefully considered to avoid getting his defenses up. I’ve pointed out subtly that I did come to find him today. Still he might see this as a ‘win’ in that you’ve acknowledged his point and what you could do better in the future. What does it matter to you if he thinks he gets a ‘win’? You’ve modeled the type of behavior you would like to see from him in future. You’ve taken responsibility for your part and in a conciliatory way said that the responsibility for the problem was shared with him. You’ve just said aloud what you would have been thinking: ‘how do I avoid this type of problem in future’. This approach is the most likely to leave him respecting you, being open to taking his share of responsibility and, most importantly, get on with the job. The main goal here is to get the work done efficiently for both of your teams, not to worry about whose ego gets a boost.

  83. I like Joe’s response. That’s the justified answer, like your co-worker said, you would be “technically” right in telling him to “get lost” :). But, you really have to look at the “big picture”. What good is it to deplete good-will amongst your co-workers? You should determine if the goal of the project aligns with the good of the organization and then take charge of the project yourself (in a way that you get some credit without offending your co-worker), or if nothing else, by helping your co-worker, you gain some good-will (for your future needs), and if it won’t put you out, just let go of that pride and help out (make it happen). This would NOT apply however, to helping co-workers who disrespect you continually, or who will not return the favor. You are not a doormat, and should not enable bad-behavior if it’s a habit pattern of a dis-functional office. If it was your superior or boss, you’d be obligated, but to a co-worker on the same level, you’re not – in which case you shouldn’t let it bother you, especially if it’s not a mission-critical project.

  84. Ramit,

    What should have been important is the VALUE that YOU were getting. As you said there was a benefit to you and that’s why you agreed.

    But you mentally placed the action item on him, and left it at that.

    You had a belief that you held onto (he should take the action to find you) and due to that belief you blamed HIM – but the facts say that YOU ended up losing.

    So, let go of that belief. The ownness is always on you.

    p.s. I think I just made up a word.

  85. As the team lead, it was your co-worker’s responsibility to coordinate the efforts of the team. If he wasn’t prepared to be the lead, he shouldn’t have accepted the responsibility. If he was forced into being the team lead, then this was a good time to develop some initiative on his part. According to the story, he didn’t take either initiative or shoulder responsibility. That is a big problem today; people seem to want the prize but don’t feel they should have to run the race. This prevalent notion is evident in the comments I have read here. Hard and/or smart work used to win promotions and advancement at work, not passivity and abdication of responsibility.

  86. BATNA (Best Alternative To No Agreement) is a key negotiating term. In the end, whoever has the better BATNA (in other words, who suffers more if you don’t work together) has the leverage. If it’s you, dig in and tell him he missed the opportunity, and he will either cave and do anything to bring you back into the fold, or he will fail and be exposed. If he has the leverage, then figure out a way to get it done on the best terms possible for you (i.e. take ownership so you get the credit, do as little as possible, etc.). You were a good teammate the first time around, but now it’s time to negotiate.

  87. He is right. What’s the real win- that you’re “right” in this moment or that your project is successful?

    Although I don’t agree with it, I likely would have done what you did. While I understand the concept of seeing the bigger picture and keeping your ego in check while you get there, I’m still practicing this every chance I get. Most times I’m kicking myself afterward when analyzing the situation.

  88. I agree with the commenters who say it depends on who really stands to benefit. If the degree to which it would help me/my team (or the amount of hero cred/good karma) was great enough, then yes– it may not be fair to have to be the proactive party about getting it done, but it’s better to suck it up and make the extra effort. But in that case I’d make a mental note that next time I was asked, I’d whip open a calendar invite and say, “OK, I only have time from 2 to 2:30 PM today, I’ll send you an invite. See you then.”

    Because the flip side of it is that once someone knows they can just come running to you whenever they screw up, they’ll expect you to drop everything and clean up after them every time. I’ve been in situations where I was going out of my way to be helpful, and the situation took up a lot more of my time and energy than I anticipated, and suddenly people are behaving like I’m the point person and I find myself thinking, “When did this become MY job?” And while I might have earned some goodwill, that doesn’t necessarily make it a good use of my time. I might have ended up getting distracted from a much more important-but-not-urgent focus with someone else’s urgent-but-not-as-important-to-me problem.

    So if the benefit to me was nice but not crucial, and it’s really more about saving his butt, then it’s about how important it is to me to save his butt. Maybe it’s partly a woman thing because we’re so used to putting our own stuff on hold to clean up after everyone else and we often have to make an effort to learn not to do that, but I’m kind of in favor of a “sorry, you had your chance, and your attitude isn’t making me want to help you either” reply if his success was not vital to my own. I’m sure that’s going to turn out to be the wrong answer by Ramit standards, but having been burned by situations like this before, I’ve made my peace with being a jerk in my own best interests.

  89. There is an old saying “Would rather be happy or be right.” It is another way of saying you should choose your battles.
    In this case it depends. If getting the project done is very important to your priorities you should do whatever is necessary to get it done so you can move on to the next task.
    Consider this person and all the circumstances surrounding his inability to contact you. Did he have a legitimate excuse or is this typical. If it is typical you need to call him out and think twice about relying on him in the future.

  90. Ramit, The easy answer is, if that project crossed your mind EVEN once the next day and you had a minute, he was absolutely right. Would it have killed you to help?

    Now that is assuming all is created equal and there is no animosity in the situation nor would he be using you to get the job done…

  91. Depends on how important 2) was to you (“it would help my team”).

  92. I would have setup an outlook meeting to remind both of us. That will show up on my screen and his screen. I could then give him a call at that point in time if he was still ready for the meeting.
    I still believe though , that ultimately ,it was his project and he needed to take responsibility

  93. I would have never said, “Just find me tomorrow and I’ll show you how to do it.” For me, that would communicate to the other person that you’re not really interested in helping or that you’re too busy to help. I would have said something to the effect that I’d be available from 10:00 to 10:30 the next morning and then invited him to stop by my office. Of course, he could have asked you on the spot where you would be at 10:00 the next morning and you would have had a scheduled appointment from the get-go.

    However, if I had said what you said and then had the subsequent conversation, I think I would have just let it go after “Technically, you’re right. But you have to decide if you want to be right…or you want this to get done.” No sense trying to prove your point after that comment! Your co-worker needed to decide if HE wanted to get the project done. And his approach wasn’t one that would work in his favor. Of course, you could have always humbled yourself, said you were sorry he misunderstood your statement or that you made him feel like you weren’t willing to help, and then followed up with, “Let’s try again. Are you free at 4:00?”

    I’d be more concerned about preserving the relationship than teaching him a lesson.

  94. I probably would have helped him when he first asked instead of putting him off. But if I’d asked him to come find me the next day and he didn’t, I would have followed up — assuming I remembered and cared about the project. I care a whole lot more about getting stuff done period than getting them done the ideal way. Or being right.

  95. Sounds like it was more important to you than him. As others have said, you can go forward and schedule a time or let it go and wait for him to do it. If it’s your need, then be proactive in scheduling and checking in after to be sure it gets done.

  96. Also, once you’ve agreed to help you’re obligated to make a reasonable attempt to do so, to protect your reputation (even of the task doesn’t significantly benefit you). You need a good reason to back out of the commitment you’ve given and finding him a pain to get hold of and work with the first time is not enough.

  97. Well, you’ve framed the situation to describe the guy as a dick. I mean, he needs your help doing something that he’s responsible for, and he didn’t follow through. And when asked about it, he puts the responsibility on you!

    The things that people have said about making the help actionable (setting up a specific meeting time on a shared) are totally true.

    I’m surprised you framed this as a “persuasion” issue. The guy already seemed to be aligned with your point of view from the start. I see it as a follow-through issue. Am I missing something here?

    I actually had a very similar experience at a job a few years ago. I was leading a project which I was transitioning to another manager (less assertive and w/ less follow-through IMO). He needed some support/buy-in from my boss to get something done, and I thought he needed some help. I went to him, suggested he do this. He said “yes,” and turned back to his computer. I said, no, you should really schedule a meeting with my boss and stakeholders x, y, and z — “because unless you block out time, people around here are so busy that it will never get done.” I actually walked into a meeting where he gave a technical presentation on my work and never explicitly gave me credit. Pissed me off all to hell (which is a different issue), but the company moved forward.

  98. Always take more ownership and responsibility than most people would consider reasonable.

  99. Let me see if I understand this correctly. He approached you for help because he was leading a project that would also help your team. So… it’s *his* project. His statement that ““ you have to decide if you want to be right…or you want this to get done”” indicates to me that he thinks you have a greater (or at least equal) vested interest in the project than he does. If that is *not* the case, then disabuse him of this notion very quickly. For example “while your project would help my team, frankly, it’s not my baby, and I can find some other way to advance my team’s interests if you don’t complete your project.” Be sure to say “your” project, not “the” project. “The” project implies group ownership. If he’s the leader – he’s the owner.

  100. Right and wrong indicate one thing, expectation meets expectation. If someone wants something done by a certain time then BE SPECIFIC. Lack of details, on your coworkers end, left the project to float without protocol, leaving only whatever space of attention he has left to be the leverage of any follow through. The most efficient way, the “right” way, would have been to set a time to meet, figure out what exactly needs to be done, how long will it take, and any other possible factors that need to be included to get this project complete. From the words of your coworker, I assumed he was not taking full responsibility for his issue. My idea of respect always implies respecting someone else’s time. I think he is carrying illusion in his perspective about the situation, because he is not validating your perspective. The illusion being his assumption that getting it done is more important than acknowledging how he handled this project. If I were him I would of apologized for not being specific enough and then I would go through the above mentioned protocol. A belief I have for myself is when I have the choice of being kind or right, I choose kind. Most of the time, people recognize what works and what does not on their own when I respond with kind honesty. I believe in taking responsibility for anything in my life and I do believe your coworker not taking full responsibility for this project and how he handled it only implies what karma he asks for. How I choose to respond to him is my own karma. Next time, if he does it again, ask him when, how long, the deadline, and what exactly do you want from me. When he has to answer the specifics, desired action is more likely to take place. Maybe asking the question is he right only leads to an answer that takes sides…maybe the question should be, how can we both handle this project in the most efficient, timely, and successful way?
    -M

  101. That’s not persuasion. That’s complete and utter laziness and irresponsibility, combined with a guilt trip to manipulate the other person to do the work for him. My response would have been that he was the leader and it was his responsibility to get the work done on time, no matter what else was on his plate. But, when he was ready to get around to working on this project, he could check and see if I was still free to be able to help him. If I wasn’t, it would be his loss.

  102. One could argue that you both had your egos in the way of getting things done. Maybe scheduling an “equally” workable time and technique might have worked, especially if its a mutual benefit project.

  103. Being right is such a trap. You can be right and still be poor, stuck, sick or dead. Let’s give up our rightness and be rich instead.

    This co-worker in your example was kind of a dick though.

  104. As a former project manager, I would sometimes have hundreds of tasks to coordinate to complete a project. If I asked someone to help and they said, “sure, come find me tomorrow”… what you are really asking me to do is, add “go find Ramit so he can do his part” to my task list. If you want to win the respect of your co-workers and boss and more importantly yourself then just do it!! Do you want to get the project done? If this will benefit you and your team in the end then do your part and don’t have to be asked twice or need special attention from the lead just to get it done. Believe me, the only way you’ll ever be asked to be a lead on a project is if you are a team player that goes above and beyond without being asked twice or sometimes even once!

  105. This guys knows how to get what he wants… that is for sure. But he manages the issue form a power position, he wants things to be done his way but then lacks of responsibility as he is leading the project and he should be taking action in the benefit of the team and not only to reinforce his position. In the end I believe that the person that was able to help could have told him: “Yes, I want it to be done and so do you so let’s do it know”. No more delays, no more who should ask who, just immediate action. I believe that when you put yourself in a position where it is more important the solution and the benefit of the team you are leading, no doubt.

  106. Since hindsight is 20/20.
    * Response before reading this post
    – I would have sighed and rolled my eyes and said alright let’s do this.

    * My ideal response in the future.
    – Schedule the time ahead of time (if they skip appointment then I will reschedule with a scheduled follow up email)

    * My likely response in the future.
    – It would depend on how busy I am and what happens right after we speak (I can be absent minded at times).

    So the next question is how do I make the ideal response more likely.

    Systems!!!!!!

    * Always have a pen.
    * Have a notebook where you put things.
    * Schedule a review of the notebook 2-3 times during the workday.
    * Practice different scenarios to ensure you understand where things my fall though the cracks.

    Here are some I just thought of.

    – Walking to the water cooler some asks you do something you do have your notebook.
    * Tell them hold let me go get my notebook.
    * Then take your pen out of your pocket and put it your mouth
    * The pen is your reminder of why you went to your desk.
    * Grab your notebook and go back to the person.
    * Write down your notes put the pen back in your mouth (as a reminder again).
    * When you get back to your desk write things that we spoke about in your trusted system.

    • Awesome response.

      Especially for easily distractible (clinical ADD or just too many actions at work???? only the shadow knows…) people like myself.

  107. Brice Morrison Link to this comment

    It’s true – if it had been really important for you for this lazy guy to get it done, critical to your goals and career, then sometime you need to compensate for other people and carry the team (and then hope you don’t have to work with them going forward). But if it’s not critical to you, then you have no obligation. Then you can just be right.

  108. It is 100% the co-worker’s /fault/. However, his statement is also a valid truth. While far the ideal, this situation is somewhat common. Even though it may not be convenient or fair, this is the burden of a leader in reality. He must do what is necessary to get the job done with the people at his disposal.

  109. Forgot to mention how to respond to co worker… I would just take responsibility.

    _____, you are right I could have taken initiative and checked in to see if you needed help. I learned something from our encounter. Please do not hesitate to ask me for help in the future. If I can help I will make a concerted effort to do so.

  110. Sometimes it depends on the situation. Things can happen. No one likes excuses. i should learn from this today.

  111. Quick response after fixing my auto-correct which wanted to name you “Ramos.” I would probably give him the blank, confused stare I just gave the screen after reading his response. He missed two opportunities:

    1. He missed the opportunity to show the firm that he was not only adding value on his team, but on others.
    2. He missed the opportunity to build capital with you from which he could benefit for who knows how long.

    It’s not about me being right or me wanting this to get done. Because of those reasons, I would stare at him a bit longer and lock in me not being able to see him the same way again. Then, I would set about helping him with the project, though at some point I would cut him out of the project.

  112. I would rather be open than right.

  113. I’m not sure if you’re asking what we would have done the day we were supposed to help when the guy didn’t come find us, or what we would have done when he said you had to decide if you wanted to be right or get the project done. I think one key fact here is that the project would help you too. That being the case, I would have scheduled time to get together rather than assume the guy would come find me. If you mean what would we have done when you confronted him, I probably would have agreed that since it was also in my best interest to get the project done, I should have followed up too. Depending on whether or not I liked the person, I might spent some time feeling resentful though.

    I definitely agree with the part about “being right”. People who consider themselves top performers also tend to focus on being right and/or superior to everyone else (I can be guilty of this myself). I think where you distinguish yourself and truly become a top performer (as opposed to merely calling yourself a top performer) is by being more collaborative and focusing on the outcome rather than being right.

  114. Right. Oops — no accountability built in — should have scheduled something more defined than “tomorrow.” That being said…

    I would have said, “Dude, you suck! We all get busy and I was counting on you — but you’re right. I’d much rather have it done than waste breath and time about being right which doesn’t matter in the end. It’s not too late; let’s crank this puppy out now.”

  115. I would rather be open than right.

    My favorite mantra.

  116. I don’t like to rely on someone else “finding” me or contacting me, open ended. If there is a benefit to my team, AND if there is no benefit to my team and it would really help out this one person, I would offer an appointment time to hold him accountable.

    If he doesn’t show up then obviously you didn’t need each other that much. I think that’s where priorities come in. If it’s beneficial to both parties, well, phone rings both ways.

  117. I have to disagree with most of the commenters. He came to you for help, and you agreed. The benefit to you & your team had nothing to do with it, because you could’ve been helping show him how to do it so he wouldn’t bug you for help in the future. This guy’s chutzpah is incredible (he’s doing you a favor by asking you for help?), but this is the line that killed me: ““I was just busy…sometimes if you want someone to do something, you have to go above and beyond.” HE was giving YOU a hard time for not going above and beyond? This is his project on the line, not yours, even though it would benefit your team. “Give a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a day”–this guy was expecting you to not only give him the fish but spoon-feed him as well. Ridiculous.

  118. Great scenario

    To me, it depends. I actually think the co-worker’s statement was right. The end result of the project would assist both teams. If the success or failure of the project affects both teams, you should have been more pro-active throughout the process. Getting towards the deadline, nobody should be surprised if the project is not close to completion. Everyone involved should have been able to see that sooner and as a team reevaluate your execution strategy to meed the deadline.

    With that said, the project leader is also at fault as he’s ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the project but there is definitely fault all around in my opinion.

  119. I would say,”I have a problem. I set aside time to help you and you didn’t show up.Treating me like my time had no value put me behind on my on project.”

    This would help him understand that his behavior affects others.

  120. He’s right (albeit in the wrong). He should have found you, but if If it were me, and the project was important to me, I would have followed up when he didn’t – if for no other reason than so I could block out the rest of my time. I’d already offered to help him – why spend the day limiting my choices, waiting to see if he’ll show up? In this case the help he needed included someone recognizing that he was overwhelmed.

    He should know better, but my goal would not be to provide consequences that showed him the error of his ways.

  121. Frankly, I’ve always been the kind of colleague who, if asked for help, makes it her business to go find the person who asked for the help and deliver it. In the case you describe, the fact that the project would be of direct benefit to my team would have been an additional motivating factor. The bottom line is that even those who ask for help–or perhaps ESPECIALLY those who ask for help–can get caught up in other aspects of the project or other areas of the day-to-day workplace. I’ve been there and done that. Whenever I’ve taken that extra moment to go find the person who requested help, I’ve found that the person is exceptionally grateful to have the impetus to stop whatever else is going on and get the help she wanted. In my book, it’s not about “right”, it’s about completion and going the extra mile.

  122. both of you were right… and both of you were wrong… =)~ Having raised four kids and worked with attorneys for 30+ years, I know first hand that if you really want to get something done, you have to initiate the process, nudge the process along, hold everyone (including yourself) accountable for status on the process, and then be the lead in congratulating the team on the successful conclusion. In this case, when someone asks for my help on a project I don’t tell them yes and then tell them to find me later to discuss. If I am not available (or they aren’t) at that moment, I set the time for follow up (I’m a control freak – I admit it). I then follow through on the set time/date, and confirm once I have given assistance whether they want me to continue tracking/monitoring the project. If they say no need, I acknowledge (in writing, usually email) to confirm I have assisted and am no longer monitoring (CYA baby). If they ask me to continue monitoring I do so, letting them know I will follow up in x days. I think set a calendar reminder (sends me emails) for myself to do so. This has made me a successful paralegal in this multi-attorney law firm within three years of my initial hire, with clients and attorneys sending the office manager and managing partner thanks on multiple occasions. It also saves valuable time/effort in chasing down the status of people/projects, and many people ended up following this same procedure once they started working with me. I have had the manager/partner on more than one occasion mention this as well. =)

  123. This is FASCINATING and I am so glad I read this today. I deal with this all the time, it is a major source of frustration. Yes, if you want it done you may have to do it yourself. But why do the higher up people, who are paid more and have more ‘prestige’ get away with not doing thier job? If it is their project, they need to deliver, not pass it off to become someone else’s responsibility. Isn’t management supposed to supply the support for the workers to do their job? Every time I work on someone else’s project I get more behind on the things I am supposed to be focusing on. This was a great conversation today!

  124. The co-worker has a point. If another person’s completion of a task/project will be of benefit to you, you’re really helping yourself by taking a proactive approach. As much as I could, I’d try to remove any obstacle to the other person completing the work. Even though it can be frustrating to have a leader who’s not completely “owning it”, you’re doing a disservice to yourself by not pitching in as soon as its known that you’re needed.

  125. “I would rather get it done than be right. The problem here is that you’re the lead on this and you came to me for help. You’re not the only one who is busy.”

  126. Looking at this just as it stands:
    if someone came looking for my help, I would help, regardless of who that help may benefit. If the moment in time is inconvenient or I’m swamped, I would offer a better time and then follow-up. I practice a proactive approach. And I think it works well. In the end, the person who asked for help initially likely thought you weren’t reliable or just weren’t interested. If i were the one asking for help, you would not get asked a second time.

  127. 73 posts and nobody is concentrating on what Ramit learned about persuasion from this?

  128. At first blush, you’re right. But since his project would benefit you, it’s in your best interest to think of it as ‘our’ project. Keep communicating with him. He’s not coming to you? Why not? Go find out what his roadblocks are, see what you can do to help. Remind him that you have this shared goal and enthuse on how his project will change mankind.

    1. Communicate
    2. Inspire
    3. Forgive

    If he’s just a lazy bastard, he needs a splash of cold water. That’s when you can let him know you’re very, very unimpressed.

  129. He’s a dick, but he’s right.

    The circumstances don’t matter here, or ever honestly. What matters is how you react to the situation. This affected your performance, and you had control to find him if you wanted to. Sure you can be mad, but be mad at yourself for not taking control.

    Maybe you wanted someone to blame for the project not being done other than yourself? I can only speculate.

    I’m interested to hear the persuasion technique here.

    (BTW, not trying to be a jerk. That’s just what I see)

  130. Imagine it was Ramit who asked you to help him prepare an article for IWT and you would benefit from his response. You ask him to contact you the next day but he does not.

    You now have the opportunity to distinguish yourself from 99% of the people out there and to benefit your project.

    Do you step up? or blame Ramit for not following up?

  131. First I will be startled at his answer and would want to give a sharp retort, but then, you did say this task would have benefited you. If it is me I would have:
    1. Given him a call sometime before the deadline to ask for updates
    2. Checked on the project to see at which stage it is, at which I will jump start the project if it hadn’t started, then given him a call to tell him what I had done, and indirectly telling him to get his acts in order
    An doing this, not because am a nice guy but I hate being dragged back unnecessarily.

  132. I would say it depends on the situation. What do i meant by that? i meant, if a project that needed to be done is more valuable finish than unfinished, i would have made my own initiative to help the guy. That is the ‘price’ that i am willing to pay in order to get the thing done. That is the textbook answer, as for my personal opinion, i would remind him using email and during the actual meeting (if there is any) i would reconfirm his commitment to the project. There is nothing more useless than helping a person that don’t want be help. If there is no meeting, I have gain more precious time.

  133. Technically, dude was lazy and irresponsible as hell. However, he is right…if getting the project done was important to you or essential to your team, then you would have found and helped them finish it.

    Key words being IF what he was working on was important to you…

    Miss U.

  134. No way, that guy was way wrong. Take some personal responsibility plus if you ask for help, that other person is doing you a favor. He should be going above and beyond to accommodate you. How would you know that he didn’t just solve the problem himself. Yeah it would have been cool if you called and asked if he still needed you but I don’t think it should have been expected of you.

    This kind of stuff happens to me all the time. I get asked can you help me with project X because it’s due tomorrow. I say sure, tell me about it and I give them a list of things that I need from them.

    They’re always like, “Wait, I have to do all this work? Aren’t you going to do it?”

    I say, “Yes, but in order to do it I need to know basic information A, B & C about the project. Don’t you already know that?”

    Their reply, “No, that’s what we want you to do.”

    My reply, “O.K., but it won’t be done for 3 days.”

    Their reply, “Never mind. In that case, we can do that ourselves.”

    My reply, ” :\ “

  135. It’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about what do you value most. Sure the co-worker dropped the ball in not getting back but the facts remain, 1) the project still needed to get done, 2) there was still time for the project to get done and 3) you still have a stake in the rewards of it getting done. The arbitrary deadline of tomorrow wasnt compelling enough to follow through on amongst other priorities of the day, so it was ignored.

    It’s kind of like when I made date reservations with my girlfriend and she was late (customarily) and I got pissed about it because we ended up late for the reservation. Well, the reservation might have been at X time but the deadline for dinner is whenever the restaurant closes. She “disregarded” the reservation time because perhaps to her, any time up to an hour or so before closing would have been sufficient to “get dinner done”. But even if I was pissed, the fact remained, she still looked hot and we both still had to eat. What do I value most, punishing her for missing my arbitrary reservation/deadline, or getting in that quality time? Let go of the snag and keep moving on. After all, the way to my heart ain’t through my stomach anyway.

  136. So, I had to re-read this a couple times, because my first read through I thought “this guy’s a real fucking douche”…but upon re-reading it, he’s right.

    Here’s (to me at least) the key: the project would have benefited YOU also.

    If it’s was strictly a one-sided equation (where only he benefited) then I’d say screw that.

    But, if it was a benefit it to you, and getting the project done would help you – you should have sought him out – checked in with him and said “let me help you” or “let me show how to do this…”

    Straight up honesty here: I’m not the most go-getter type person – but I know, when someone asks me for help or assistance, if it’s going to benefit me, I’m going to seek them out and make sure I get the benefit that’s coming to me.

  137. Being “right” or righteous is very expensive…to money, to relationships to productivity.

    I was just in meeting…three people invested 2 hours of my time (read wasted) debating on who was supposed to fulfill one piece of the project…emails read and debate words more debate more words…until they said well let’s just get it done.

    Both parties were right. That’s the darn thing about it…just were focused and hell bent on convincing the other person they were more right.

    Point being…if someone asks for help…it’s on them to circle back…it’s on you to ask if they still needed help…you’re both right and wrong depending.

    If you get asked for help, you say yes willingly…reasonably there’s a reason why you’re saying yes…promotion, attention, praise, good person, etc…if you circle back you are then known as the person who helps without being asked and takes charge when commits to another person’s project.

    If being a helper is part of the currency of your environment…friends, spouse, job, volunteerism…then stockpile that currency in your favor for when you need it back.

  138. So he had a job or a responsibility, asked for you to spend time on it and help him under the pretence that it was going to benefit you. Then, when he fails to honour the agreement, his excuse is once more that its benefit to you outweighs his apparent incompetence and failure to live up to his word.

    Under that same train of logic. Ramit, I have something that will benefit you, I need 2 hours of your time and help to get it done. Oh woops, gonna have to raincheck you my friend but, worry not, it’s in your best interest to pursue this thing you have no idea about because, maybe, just maybe, this might benefit you. It is completely irrelevant that my lack of professionalism already indicates a severe reason for doubting my capacity to output useful things.

  139. Joan Rubinstein Link to this comment

    I would have offered to help him right then and there and if not then I would have gone to find him and this is even if there was no gain for me.

  140. I’m a micro-managing control freak. Since it would have helped my team, I would probably take the project from the guy and gotten it done my way, in my time.
    I have delegation issues.

  141. Hey Ramit,

    I think that if you co-worker cannot handle his task, he has to come and find you. If he doesn’t, then he might not be suited for the position he had.

    You were right by saying he had to come and find you, there’s not doubt about that.
    How could he have possibly defended his position further?

    -T

  142. Since it would have resulted in some personal benefit, I’d have done the work myself, and then done anything in my power to not have to rely on this friend’s output in the future

  143. In some areas of life I need to learn how to bow down and be graceful. In some others I seriously need to learn how to stand up for myself. I would use the situation to learn the appropriate thing. How would I know it instantly? If this happened to me at my workplace and if I was in Ramit’s shoes, I would have felt punched for a wee second and would be tempted to just suck it up quietly. But I would CHOOSE to recover reasonably quickly( since this has happened so often now) and offer to help again AND point out to the other guy that he was being a jerk. At the end of the day I would be able to respect myself better this way than just meekly offereing to help a passive aggressive specimen!

  144. Your co-worker asks for help. You say sure, come and find me and I’ll show you
    how to do it…if he can’t follow your first instruction, “to find you” , how do you think he will follow your other instructions when you “show him how to do it”?
    This fellow sounds like a poor communicator. What he truly wanted was YOU to
    “just do it”, not show him how to do it himself. He then whines he was “too busy”. We are all busy at work! I would “just do it” for the team’s sake at this point and make a mental note to deal carefully with this guy in the future as he sounds like a potential mess in the making!

  145. Ramit,
    You have already responded to this guy. Your response was to start your own business and become the boss. As a result, when a person with whom you are working on a project first drops the ball, and then, when you try to point this out to him, tries to turn around and blame it on you (instead of acknowledging his mistake, apologizing, and then stepping up to make it right), you fire him, because you do not have time this kind of nonsense. Hilari

  146. Hi Ramit,
    Consciously or not, your coworker seemed to have turned the tables of power on you. Here’s the play-by-play translation for what is actually being communicated in between the lines:

    -Coworker: “Can I get your help?”
    -Ramit: “Yeah, come find me.” (Translation: You are asking for something from me. I am in power.)
    *Later*
    -R: “Why didn’t you find me?” (T: What happened? I need you to do this work for me.)
    -C: “Oh I was busy.” (T: Yep, guess you need me after all.)
    -R: “Dude, you were supposed to find me.” (T: Uh, not that much. B*tch, please. I’m still the one in power here, because you’re asking for something from me.)
    -C: “I know, I was busy….if you want someone to do something, you have to go above and beyond.” (T: Whatever, you need me a lot, so make it easy for me.)
    -R: “Listen, if you need my help, you need to find me — not the other way around.” (Listen, I’m the one in power here! You need me more than I need you.)
    -C: “You’re right. But you need to decide if you want to be right…or to get this done.” (Whatever. I’m here to help you. YOU need ME. Are you going to play power games or admit I actually am valuable to you?)

    The lesson from this scenario may not be about setting expectations, or whether the manager or employee should be following up first, although those are very important lessons. What I haven’t seen mentioned is: power dynamic in relationships.

    The coworker responded in a way that could force Ramit into what appears to be an either-or situation: give away some power in exchange for the work, or stand his ground and thereby indicate that the work was not actually valuable to him.

    That’s a tough place to be, and I don’t have the answer for how someone in Ramit’s position could respond for the best outcome to get of the either-or situation framed by the coworker.

    However, Marshall Goldman of the book “What Got Your Here Won’t Get Your There” teaches a great lesson to managers: Eliminating just 2-3 of 20 behavioral patterns common in top performers, like “Trying to Win Too Much”, could pay dividends in work and personal relationships, and could be applicable here.

    Or, using advice from “Crucial Conversations” or similar books about communication techniques, I would clear if up there are any feelings of lacking respect or underappreciation, before talking about setting expectations with the coworker.

  147. Agreed- being right isn’t always the goal nor helpful. Besides you can never convince someone against their will. It’s more helpful to try to see the situation from the others perspective and then try to reach them from where they are at. Ok so in this situation- if I wanted to help and it would benefit my team, I would have followed up with him. Right or wrong is irrelevant, meeting my goals any way I can I’d what I care about.

  148. This is an example what I call “Communication Breakdown”.
    Both of you should have first decided a specific time of day to meet and discuss the project, not just agreeing with him that you would, “just find him sometime tomorrow”. That where thing went off the rails, never good just to assume that follow thru is just gonna happen based on such a loose plan.

  149. Hi all,

    Book some time and help to get the task done. The guy is reporting an issue, it is better to know asap.

    Best.

    Jesús

  150. This reminds me of a poem I was taught when was younger.

    The poem is supposedly written on a (fictional) headstone and reads;

    “Here lies the body of Jonathan Gray,
    Who died defending his right of way,
    He was in the right,
    As he sped along,
    But he’s just as dead,
    As if he’d been wrong”

    Since I first heard this at a relatively young age – I’ve generally worked to the fact that if it’s in my interest for someone else to do something – I’ll go out of my way to ensure they do.

  151. I’m willing to help but I need more than the minimum from you. If you can’t give that much, you should consider paying me.

  152. Excuse my blunt language but the guy is an idiot. There’s no accountability on his part. First he blows off an opportunity to have your help, then tries to make you responsible for the success or failure of the project using a “Do you want to be right or win?” approach. Only you can decide if it’s worth putting up with this non- performer. I think he has demonstrated his working M.O. and nothing you say will make a difference.

  153. At first glance I must say your colleague is at fault for not setting an appointment however when I read this a few times I am reminded at times this is why projects don’t get done at work and drag on forever.
    If the project was meant to benefit both teams then people on both teams should put their egos besides themselves and get things done.

    If this was a situation among friends/or outside business associates then I would agree with your initial reaction Ramit.

  154. You said for him to come find you. He didn’t acknowledge that response. He didn’t say yes or no.

    Therefore, he can’t be upset that it didn’t get done. He needed help, he needed to come to you, he didn’t come to you.

    I bet his project was a huge success :)

  155. To a certain degree, yes, he was right. If the project wasn’t finished, it would’ve negatively impacted on you and your team.

    I think the first issue was using the line, “Come and find me tomorrow”. In an office environment, a day is a long time. Suggesting that he find you whenever suggests that your time is less important than his. If that’s the case, your time will have been less important than his the day after that, and after that etc. He took advantage of that. Even if he had approached you the day after, what’s to say that you wouldn’t have an important project that you may have had to forfeit in order to fit your colleague in as promised?

    The way I would handle that situation is to say that I’d be happy to help, suggest one time slot, say between 11 and 12 (even if I wasn’t busy) and arrange a meeting. The time would have a greater significance for both parties.

  156. If it benefits me I pursue the other person to make sure we can get it done. If it purely benefits them they can come and seek me.

  157. I’d further question them … To get at the real reason. Did they not think you we’re available.? I’d assure them you were. Did they not think you’d help the project? I’d assure them and give them concrete examples/reasons why you would. There is something under the surface they are not sharing with you.

  158. Logically, he should have came to ask for you.

    Practically and emotionally, he couldn’t .

    First you used the words : “Sure,” I said, “just find me tomorrow and I’ll show you how to do it.”

    This puts you in a position of power, logically he might have not think of it, but emotionally, it undermines his position , meaning it makes him feel small or inqdequte.

    His reply to you the next day shows this:
    “I know…” he said. “I was just busy…sometimes if you want someone to do something, you have to go above and beyond.”

    Meaning that in order for him to feel significant he had to justify to himself that he was someone who needed to go above and beyond to ask you for help. This relieves him of his personal responsibility, at the same time is a pretty good excuse.

    A more better approach would have been to schedule a specific time at that moment when you were talking to him, and that would have been more concrete. Instead of just saying “Sure,” I said, “just find me tomorrow and I’ll show you how to do it.” It probably felt good at the time saying that, because it made you feel superior or confirmed your self belief that yea, I know this stuff.

  159. Ask yourself this question ..,Better to think your ideas/opinions are right OR choose to listen and do what it takes to get it done/ get along.

  160. When asked for help, I schedule a place and time to meet. I insist that they confirm by 7 a.m. that morning or I may have other priorities.

    For all concerned, simplify the way others schedule time with you. Why complicate it by tasking others with “finding you?”

  161. I would have offered my help just like you did, taken a note of it on my calendar to check back in a few days. If my co-worker did not approach me I would check in a few days later and ask if they still needed my help and schedule a time to do it. You need to take into account people may take your offer of help but they may not follow up for a myriad of reasons: feelings of incompetency, embarrassment, lack of follow through. If the project was benefiting both he and I the follow through would help me in the long run and the business as a whole. Accountability is an issue here but the benefit of the whole is the important factor here.

  162. I would have shrugged it off and helped him with whatever the task at hand was, but also would have made a mental note to remind him of my willingness to be flexible in case the situation was ever reversed.

  163. Been there. I usually jump right into it if we have the time. I start with “show me/tell me where you’re stuck”. If I can’t do that, I drop by by the end of the day when I have time, and ask if there has been any progress.

    I love solving problems. Mine, others’. That’s how I learn. that’s how I build my confidence.

  164. I’ll go to the end first: you talk about persuation. So you want us to find what is that twist that you learned to use.
    Then, he tolds you “sometimes if you want someone to do something, you have to go above and beyond”. I think the tone of the post is about you persuading him, not the other way around.
    Finally, he teaches you a simple lesson, which is to set the priority of getting things accomplished above the ridiculous fact that you were right. So he is the wise old guy teaching you something. And it also tells me that he knew that you needed him as well, but he is not telling you that and I think that is key.

    More info: you are angry when you are not supposed to. And that is because you are righteous about the fact that he is the one asking for help and not the other way around, so you try to be the man who is on top. BUT you said that it would help your project too, that’s why you got so angry, cause otherwise you wouldn’t care less (this is an assumption on my part), or at least you wouldn’t have exploded.

    To sum it up:
    - he knows that you need him
    - he doesn’t want to state that fact openly
    - it becomes clear to me that you needed him more than he needed you, but you tried to act the other way around. He called your bluff and you got mad.

    Thus, it is my guess that he wanted you to acknowledge and act upon the fact that you should be the one to find him and not the other way around.

  165. He asked for your help, he has to find you. It’s his job to get shit done, he had someone willing to help him get shit done, and he still didn’t get shit done (or use the guy’s help). I would probably terminate him choose any definition of “terminate” you prefer.

  166. If I sincerely want to help the person, I would definitely follow up with him at least once, not leave it up to him to find me. This shows I am committed, responsible and take initiative. I think this will take me far in the long run.

  167. I’m assuming that since the person is a co-worker then you are somehow a stakeholder in this project. If that’s true then he is correct to a degree. Being a stakeholder does put some of the burden on you even if the major responsibility is his. Someone outside the team doesn’t care about the load-sharing inside the team. They only care about the result. You may (probably, even) have a long-term problem on your hands but the short-term answer is probably to pick up the load yourself.

  168. I’m sure there are many things that would have helped your team, and this idea was just one of them. We’re all too busy to chase people who ask for our time and expertise, unless the ask involves something incredibly interesting. So it wa up to the other party to take you up on the offer of assistance. Clearly.

  169. To me, this little story is about assumptions. Both are thinking “He needs this more than I do, so he should action”

    Its about priorities. Both should wait until action becomes a priority for one of the parties.

    This is classic situation that occurs in everyday life. Well written Ramit.

  170. Pretty simply. I’d ask “Did it get done?” If not I think he’s eating crow with that response.

  171. I think that the key sentence in this conversation, and Ramit himself highlighted it, is this:

    “I know…” he said. “I was just busy…sometimes if you want someone to do something, you have to go above and beyond.”

    This person is testing Ramit to determine the overall importance of the project. We don’t know *why* he’s doing that, it could be that he is thinking,
    “though I know it’s my responsibility to get this project done, the project is also going to benefit your team, so therefore you should be as engaged as I need to be and not just leave it to me to find you.” Or, he may also be simply thinking: “I wonder how important this project *really* is to Ramit?”

    I think it’s the latter. The person may have felt that although he’s the lead on the project, the project did not have enough benefit for him to prioritize, but would become more of a priority if more than one person, a person who will also benefit from the project, works on it with him. He’s clearly sending a message that it something benefits the village, it’s to the advantage of the village that more than one person work on the project.

    Now Ramit has to decide if it is in fact important enough, and, if it is, reach out and demonstrate that in action. If not, the project simply gets demoted on the list of priorities.

    Should the gentleman had found Ramit on the day Ramit suggested? Of course, but he didn’t, and, again, it gets down to how important the overall project is to the success of Ramit and his team to determine the next step. Should there be any repercussions to the gentleman for not finding Ramit? Again, it depends on the importance of the project. The major upside to this incident is now that Ramit has an insight into this person’s personality and behavior, Ramit can better determine how to engage with this person about work in the future.

  172. I think a company is one big team with one big goal broken down into smaller goals. There is not room for ego to get in the way of progress if that company is to be great. Neither of you approached the situation wrong, but could have taken the hirarchy and ego out of it. Both of you could have communicated at the scheduled time and been more accountable for the agreement you both made to get something done. However, you also were both busy, so now here you are- new moment, new goal. How do we get it done today? And in the future is it possible to create a more team approach -checking in, and following through with each other.

  173. Here’s how I would respond Ramit.
    I’d ask him, Do you want to get this done? Then lets do this now. If he says he’s busy, then let him go ahead and do what ever he’s doing. No sense getting angry.
    Get someone else to do it. If he does this same type of thing again and again, it’s curtain time. Or the hook. No sense in losing sleep over it. You’re the boss and it’s not the end of the world if something doesn’t get done on the spot.

    Why beat yourself up over it. By letting people think they can get away with stuff at first, makes them think they have you over a barrel, so to speak.

    People are always their worst enemies and do themselves in job wise or money wise by not taking action. It goes back to that mental BS. Even mob bosses let people do themselves in just to see what they do.

  174. A great example of communication failure on both sides of the table. The parameters for him to “come find you” where too wishy-washy. Both of you should’ve recognized that.

    I’ve made similar mistakes in my time, so what I’ve learned in these situations, is to (first) try to pin down a specific meeting time with the other person. (Second) I would have scheduled that in my calendar with a reminder. (Thirdly) When that person didn’t show, I would’ve followed up and closed the communication loop. That means, during the follow up conversation, I would either make the decision to go ahead on my own or inform my co-worker otherwise.

    This way, after I hung up the phone, both of us would be clear on who’s got the ball.

    IMO, he passed the buck more than you did, but in the famous words of Teddy Roosevelt, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

  175. If a friend/colleague requested help for something that would also benefit me or my team, I would arrange a time in both our diaries in advance – I’m not going to rely on someone else to take action – not my style.

  176. The key here is to understand that his problems are also my problems. If they’re not my problems, then I would’ve reacted the same way. However, this doesn’t appear to be the case here. Years ago, I would’ve been the most junior person on a team at work. I was proactive and always asked if people needed my help if I finished up work early. In a team environment, check your ego at the door.

  177. Even though this is not a popular thought, I treat people like adults in the work place until they decide that is not for them. Since I knew this person, he would have known that if he asks and I agree to help AND we agree that he is to come to me, then the responsible is on HIM.
    However, since I am so anal about where my time goes during the day, I would have asked him how long this was going to take AND if he could set up a meeting in Outlook.
    If he refuses to do that, then TOO BAD. It’s all on him.

  178. It depends on how much it would help me/my team. If it was really going to be a big benefit, I would follow up with the co-worker even if he didn’t reach out to me the next day. If it was more of something that he had to do, and there was only a small benefit to me, I might not follow up, if there was something better I could be doing with my time.

  179. In my experience, I can’t control other people. I can only try to make them want to do what I want. Understanding what the other person desires helps me leverage what I want.

    He should have come to you. But he didn’t. Take time to cry and move on.

    I’ve rarely seen sharp responses work efficiently or effectively. They make people bristle and potentially render them useless. Humans crave appreciation and want to save face. A different response could’ve been “I know you have many important projects you’re working hard on in a limited amount of time. I have xy&z time available tomorrow. What times work for you or let’s see what we can rearrange in our schedules to help you get this done.” Set the date and allot a time frame. Then ask “Is there anything I can already be doing on my end before we meet?”

    People are self-centered. He cared about his projects more than yours most likely. As long as it doesn’t hurt your situation, put the burden on yourself.

  180. I understand going above beyond, but that only make sense when the person asking for helping is the one going above and beyond.
    He came to you for help, why is it your responsibility to find him?

  181. It also depends on what your budy language and tone were at the time. I have asked colleagues for help only to get the same response, come find me, but their tone and body language sends a different message and when it comes time for me to find them, I hesitate and ask myself if he really wants to help or was he just pushing me off, or I find them and they say they are to busy.

  182. I’d go with something along the lines of “Look, I’m right AND I want to get this done. So why don’t you tell me when you’re available and I’ll go to you this time. If you’re not around during that time, I’m not going to try again. This has got to be a priority for you too, because I can’t take time away from my own work if it’s not.”

  183. Both of you are right, I think. You let him know he was supposed to find you. He acknowledged it and offered another valid point. At that point, we’ve already vented and expressed our valid viewpoints. Since we’re already talking, we could put it behind us and discuss the project right then and there.

  184. I think it depends upon the urgency for both parties. If it was something that was urgent for my colleague, but just generally beneficial for me, I would expect my colleague to take the initiative, especially if he were really leading up the project. If it was something that was equally urgent for me, I would still expect him to take the initiative, but I would follow up when he didn’t.

    Another thought — very inconsiderate for this colleague to ignore the fact that you’ve guaranteed to make yourself available to him. For all he knows, you re-scheduled some appointments so that you could be around. He should feel like a bum for wasting your time.

  185. My initial reaction is just like you Ramit, you need my help, schedule time with me. It happens a lot. But then if I realize that person hasn’t set anything up with me, and it starts to adversely affect my job or team, then I will reach out to them. More often than not, the answer is “oh I forgot.”

  186. Zachary N. Walton Link to this comment

    You are correct (coworker’s name). Do you want to be right or do you want to get it done? You are leading the project and responsible for its completion. Yes, I will benefit from its timely completion, but I am not responsible for it. Thanks for coming by and updating me on the progress of the project. When you are ready to get it done come find me and we can complete the project together. Until then, I have my own responsibilities to attend to.

  187. I’ve never really thought about it explicitly before, but this happens to me a bunch at school (I do research/am a grad student), and in general (including this week, when people made similar comments to me twice), I usually time my work chunks so that I can get up and walk around/break for about 10 minutes or so every 1-2 hours. During that time, if someone’s made a comment like that, I’ve written it down, so I swing by if they are in, or text/gchat/email them and ask whether they wanted to talk about it today, and whether there was a good time for them to do so, and basically do that every 1-3 days until they either tell me they don’t want the help anymore, or they meet up with me.

    I tend to think of it like this: I am overwhelmed with work a lot, and its very easy to procrastinate the things that are hard, and that you need help with. Often, you will ask someone when they are around, but its made a world of difference to me when they ask me about it, because 1) it reinforces that they want to help me, its not this imposition, because I think a lot of successful people have a tough time asking for help in the first place, and when they are struggling with something its just rough, so its hard to actually go take that help even if they’ve mentioned wanting it 2) it means shit gets done, which means more publishing and love for everyone.

    I guess overall, I tend to believe that part of helping someone, if I can do it, is to also help them actually get that help from me, but I totally see how other people might not feel that way, especially since everyone is busy. I think this just sort of builds good karma, and also, I just like helping other people with work stuff, usually its fun and a nice productive break from my own work. I think doing this really helps build your relationships with people, and leads to better collaborative opportunities in the future. I also make this work out by actually assuming that perhaps 20-30 minutes of any given day will be devoted to “flow/random stuff” so it doesn’t really hurt my own work to help other people.

    Unless I hate the person/they are horrible. If I hate the person/they are horrible (not the case with most people), then I ping them once or twice, but not persistently unless the work they are doing is just super awesome.

    • I got sidetracked but, tldr: I would respond with, “Sorry you didn’t finish it, did you still want to work on that? Is there a good time this week we could figure it out?”

  188. Initially, I’d feel the same way…”you need to find ME!” But, even though he is the “leader” of a project that benefits more than just himself, the 2nd person is just as important, if not more, to make a movement.

    Watch this short and fun Ted Talk about what I mean: http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement.html

  189. I would fire him. No motivation to deal with the problem and get the team to success. No skills to use the resource to solve the problem

    • When he talks about negotiating a raise I keep hearing from Ramit how disruptive and expensive it is to turn over employees. This doesn’t change when you’re the one doing the firing. To a very large extent, once you have hired someone you have to live with him. It’s usually better to make what corrections you can and experience some progress down track than to dump the guy and start over.

  190. I wouldn’t say the co-worker is right and the response wasn’t wrong. The feeling of being in the power seat is nice but there are two ways to view that power seat: being the person who is needed and awaiting notice for that need OR being the person who is needed with the idea that if I don’t take the initiative then that need won’t be met and/or realized. It’s about weighing the options.

  191. I think both you and the other guy are wrong because you’re both putting the responsibility entirely on the other person. Since it affects both of your work you should both be accountable to making the collaboration happen when it needs to happen. As some others have said, I think the best way to handle a situation like this from the beginning would be to set a time to work on something in advance. But it’s immature for both of you to sit around waiting for the other person to bug you to do something instead of taking the initiative to take action.

  192. I believe that the guy needing help is right. I have lived this scenario and have played it out differently.

    Firstly, one truth about me is that I ask for help with something if I am very busy doing something else and both tasks are urgent. I say this because I have worked with individuals that ask for ‘help’ with something if they don’t want to do it themselves and are looking for someone to pawn it off on. For this example, let’s say that it is not the case.

    So if a coworker (let’s call him Jim) comes up to me and states that my help is needed for something that I can help him with tomorrow, I try to address it first thing that morning for whatever scenario exists as follows:

    1) If I am very busy with my own work that day, I will speak to/email him as follows: “Jim, I‘ll be happy to help you with what we talked about yesterday, but I have to get X, Y and Z off my desk. I should be done around (whatever time). Will that work for you? If so, I’ll stop by then. If not, tell me when will be a good time and I’ll take a break to find you.”

    OR

    2) If I am not working on anything that needs my immediate attention, I will speak to/email him as follows: “Jim, I’ve got some time to help you right now. Can you break from what you’re doing to fill me in on what you need me to help you with?”

    The way I see it is this: when you are working hard to meet any type of deadline, time is usually not on your side; it is easy to overlook tasks that are not directly related to what is urgent.

  193. I’m dealing with the exact same problem at work right now! I’ve been tasked with helping to oversee someone and train them on a process which they need to learn, but they have yet to realize that I am doing them a favor, and that my time is equally valuable to theirs. I was taken advantage of twice in this in that we got on calls where time was wasted, or I was completely ignored. In order to teach them a lesson, I made my schedule very busy for the next few days and stopped following up with them and pushing them to get the project done and to reach out to me. As a precaution, I informed my boss that I was doing this, but that I wouldn’t let the project fall through, as I wanted them to learn their lesson, sweat a little, but not also realize that I am there to help.

    In the end, it seems to have worked out well, the other person now knows that when we schedule time together, it is for working on this project, not for screwing around and working on other things while we should be focused. Sometimes standing up for yourself, while it might appear bitchy, gains you some respect, and as long as you have control, the job will get done.

  194. Obviously you’re dealing with a jerk here, but also he is right and eventually you wanted this project to be done more than him, so you were the one who needed help in fact…. In that case your sentence is still relevant ” if you need help you come find [HIM]“… But at the very moment it is hard to see it that way, and I would have tried to deal with the “I don’t care” behavior of that guy and make things easy for him to get it done (which will serve YOU)

  195. I think he was right. And am dealing with this right now with a potential business partnership. I’ve made contact more often than the other person, but even though I am helping them with a problem or task I really need them more than they need me.

    I had to ask myself how badly I need this partnership? Is this give take partnership going to increase my success? Ultimately is it worth it?

    In your case, I think if it wasnt worth it you never would have agreed to help, but is it worth hunting down this person to help him? Giver seeking the taker?

    My strategy is to make a standing appointment to follow up. That way this person knows when to expect me knocking and can tell me to scoot or will make time. Optimally I need to stay as close to top of mind as possible and that requires hustle.

    Ramit, what ended up happening?

  196. I would tell him that I am going to help get the project done simply because it’s a team project, but don’t ask for my help again if you can’t be a man of word. Do what you say you are going to do, I don’t have time or tolerance for YOU to decide what you want.

  197. Wow, it really sounds like he felt entitled to your help… or even that he thought that it was your project, not his. How odd.

  198. “I was just busy…sometimes if you want someone to do something, you have to go above and beyond.”

    Sounds like he should have taken his own advice and ‘gone above and beyond’ his busyness.

  199. I would have told him your right I do want to get this done, which is why when you did not come and find me yesterday I did my own version of the project. Would you like to compare and converge the two to make a really great project?

  200. It’s the employee / co workers fault.. He may have a point to a slight exted but end of the day if he needed help of the boss / CEO and he was told to find you the next day, he should have made a point to email, phone, sms or approach you in your office.

    If he was busy on that day he should have came to you the following day..

    You offered to help meaning you were not against helping. They need to understand that you as a CEO / boss have 101 things to do so they should try work around that

  201. I would let him know that he needs to take responsibility for his own actions

  202. If you were just sitting there at work with nothing to do all day and your coworker was angry that you never followed up, then he might have a point. But if you’ve already got a reasonable to-do list and you never followed up, then I have no sympathy for your coworker.

  203. I can’t believe some of the things I’m reading here.
    Sure, Ramit offered his help, I would have done the same, and perhaps be a bit more proactive following up, however the other guys is just plain wrong.
    Flipping things around so that now it’s Ramit’s fault if things didn’t get done is flawed in so many ways I don’t even know where to start: basically what he’s saying is that his needs should be more important to Ramit than they are to himself.
    Unfortunately, since the workplace is equally twisted, that guy has the attitude that will propel him up in an organization: take the credit, spread the blame.
    I know that confronting this doesn’t improve things,and I hear all the talk about persuasion and working with these attitudes, however the more we allow this to happen, the more we encourage it.
    I’ve had people like that in my team, and because of the company culture i had to “allow” some things to happen that should not have. The result is that the attitude is reinforced, productivity and moods in the team drop, and in the long run the only person benefiting was the one with the attitude.
    Key ingredient here is “in the long run”…nobody looks at that anymore, and success and performance are measured with extreme shortsightedness.

  204. I would say that I have work to do, too, and if he needs help he should come find me and I’ll help however I can or set up a time to work with him on it because my time is as important as his. If it was my project and he didn’t come find me or let me know anything was wrong with his part, I would fire him.

  205. I think this is a great blog post. It just makes you want to answer and you get loads of comments too!

    I may be wrong, but because, after the dialogue, you asked questions like, “Is he right? How would you respond? I’m curious how you would handle this”

    (as opposed to “Was he right? How would you have responded? I’m curious how you would have handled this?)

    so I think that you are asking ‘What would you do now? How would you respond, now?”.

    (as opposed to “What would you have done in hindsight?”.)

    Of course I may have it wrong and it may be some US/English difference in speaking, but I’m going to work on that assumption anyway, given I wouldn’t have handled it your way that far anyways…

    So he seems to have turned the tables on you. You are now left with a choice of two answers and no-where does the blame lie with him.

    So I guess I’d say something like, “Dude, I want to get this done. I’ve always wanted to get this done. It will help my team, it will help me and it will help you.

    But you’re the leader and you need to decide if you want to lead or you want someone else to lead for you. If you want to lead, I’m here and ready to go”.

    I’m no psychology expert but what I’ve tried to do is clarify the situation and turn it back on him. He’s the leader. The responsibility must lie with him!

    Maybe I’d leave out the ‘dude’ – it would depend on context!

  206. This isn’t about “do you want to be right…or you want this to get done” or as some have mentioned in relationships “do you want to be right or do you want peace”. This is about someone demanding your help on their time table as if they are the only one who is busy – as he said, “I was just busy…” Really? Who isn’t busy?
    This fits in the “your lack of preparation does not constitute an emergency on my part” category. Boundaries have to be established or exceptions to the rules become expectations. Take it from someone who learned this all to well.

  207. i may be alone in my opinion, but seems to me your co-worker isn’t being accountable for his own responsibility. seems to be making it your fault for not “wanting to get it done”. sorry, but i am really big on taking ownership of your mistakes. the fact that he slacked off and seemed to make it your problem as well sounds like he isn’t accepting accountability. favors are just that, favors – not obligations.

  208. You both should have worked out the time commitment on the spot. Is this a 1 hour thing, a 3 hour thing, an 8-hour thing? No need to make a calendar event and send out invites on such short notice, unless you literally need everyone in the same room for the duration.

    Then you both should have been on the ball. The co-worker should have confirmed with you the next day. You should have confirmed with him. But only one person being on the ball is required, and that’s why people become lazy.

  209. To me, you were both responsible because you both had something to gain (and lose) by working (or not working) with each other. However, the fact you said “come find me,” means the ownership was on that person to find you. I myself hate lose ends not being tied up, so I probably would have sought out that person to get it done, even if he did not find me.

  210. First I would make sure that I was completely up to date on all of my own work before chasing someone else to help them with theirs, but after that it would depend on how critical the task was. Was this something that would have a detrimental effect on the company, division or team? If you do this jackass’ work this time is s/he going to start expecting you to rush in to the rescue all the time? Will saving the day reflect positively on your career options? Part of me would want to not help, but if I had time, liked the person at all and it was am important task I would probably give them another chance to get help. Especially if it were something that I knew how to do better than they did.

  211. I’ve been in that situation before, and the only way it’s worked out is to schedule a time right when it comes up. That gives a framework of accountability and respect on both sides. Now if they can’t make that happen there’s a problem of a whole other level…

  212. It sounds as though there wasn’t clarity as to who had responsibility and was accountable for getting the project completed. Given the employee’s remarks to you, it seems that he didn’t feel it was his responsibility.

    I would have used this as an opportunity to get at the root issue here – it’s not about the specific task or project, but that you have a desire for a certain level of initiative and ownership to be taken (I think) and the employee wasn’t demonstrating that level. Communication is required to find out why. Typically it is due to a) motivation or b) capability or c) a combination of both.

    For me, I like to work with self-starters and people who will be responsible for getting the answers they don’t know. That means hiring for that type of person, and then being crystal clear about your expectations, and reinforcing it by acknowledging when you see it happening and coaching when it isn’t.
    Peace, Susan

  213. I would find the co-worker.

    This is something that would benefit my team, not just him. If it makes my life easier, and that of my team, then I would push him to get it done even if I have to go find him.

  214. I’d outsource working with him to Fiverr.

  215. Things get done when people have accountability to do them. If someone doesn’t own the problem, how will they actually ever try to get it done? It doesn’t seem fair that Ramit should have to care more than the person who is in charge of the product, and helping out often feels like thankless work and it isn’t fixing the root of the problem. With that being said however, to build true accountability we sometimes need to drive other people’s actions with our own. We could shoot off an email if a coworker hadn’t found us by a certain time, or scheduled a meeting from the beginning to help move things forward. The reality is, if we want things to get done, we often have to do other people’s work, and they get credit.

  216. One of the business lessons I’ve learned along the way is, that that the solution to a problem should almost always take precedence over who caused the problem.

  217. It depends on the situation: from the way it was initially stated, he “needed” your help. It that’s true, then the ball is in his court. If he’s putting things off that don’t necessarily need your approval, he should “run it like he owns it” — make the decision and ask for forgiveness later if it’s wrong.

    In any event, sometimes you just have to know the people you work for: From what I can deduce about your expectations, I’m astonished that he would assume YOU would follow up with him.

  218. This is clearly someone that YOU were impressed with. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been so eager to be a “team player”. Furthermore, he knew that you and probably a lot of other people thought more highly of him and his time than your own and would finish the project for him.

  219. If this is in the information age, I would simply say “well, I understand it can be tough to make time to find people and such, so maybe I should record a video on how to do it on my computer and then put it out for all of the workers here to see.”

    if it isn’t, I’d write a quick step by step thing on a piece of paper and tell me he can phone me if he needs help with anything.

    clearly he has some form of social anxiety and these solutions bypass that issue

  220. I think that before you agree to assist you have to understand the terms of what you are signing up to do. Who is responsible for what, due dates, etc. it’s always easier to just sit back but I think good contributors are proactive. Furthermore, you want to know the committment you have been slated for because a missed deadline could be grounds for getting thrown under the bus even though your assistance was called on at the last minute.

  221. Does it really matter who’s right and who’s wrong? What value comes out of deciding that? “But he might do it again if you don’t set boundaries…waaah!” The true value comes out of getting the project done not caressing your ego by being right. The co-worker makes a good point.

  222. For this specific person I would keep in mind to set up a meeting at a fixed time or even go look for him so we could get the job done.
    But I’d also remember that he is not reliable, and will try to work with other people if possible.

  223. Absolutely. He was right. It benefited your team as well as his team. It was in your best interest to help him. Therefore, control the successful outcome of the project by pursuing him. Maybe your initiative will lead to more successful collaborations in the future. You have more to gain than lose…

  224. Ramit,

    Your coworker is a buffoon, plain and simple. If he wanted your help, he could have found you. It is certainly true that it is more important to get what you want than it is to be right…it just doesn’t apply here at all.

  225. I would definitely set him straight since I’m sure I will have to single-handedly carry the load for his contribution to my team whether or not I help his project, even though me helping him out at that early point “suppose to” make things easy for me later. Those people get away with their ishh and craftiness all the time. They are too bright but use it to scam and undermine people instead of putting that effort into actually doing their jobs. I have far too many of them I work with currently. Stand your ground. Either way you will be noticed for your hardwork if not that work environment not for you. – My perspective is looking at the bigger picture of workplace bullies and opportunist.

  226. It’s difficult without knowing your relationship with him, what the details of the project were, whether he’s a quality guy most of the time or just a lazy employee looking for excuses and this is just another smart ass comment as a way out. Bottom line, he didn’t get the job done. You’ve already exploded so he’s going to be defensive and it’s just not a good situation.

    If he’s been kind of lazy about getting things done or is a smart ass, then I would try to take a deep breath and calmly say, “I hired top-performers to take the lead on projects like this so I didn’t have to babysit and check up on you. I have a lot going on so if you need me, then you need to set up a time with me to get my input. If you can’t handle that or want to try to blame-shift, then I can get someone else who can get the job done.”

    If he’s normally an awesome guy and just dropped the ball this once, I would probably have a little more grace and calmly say, “I want the project done, which is why you’re the lead for this, because I think you’re responsible and capable. However, you know I have a lot on my plate and you need to set up a time with me so we make sure this gets completed.”

    It’s hard to not let pride get in the way though because his comment calls you out on that.

  227. Christopher Jones Link to this comment

    Two answers:
    Philosophically: Yes, he’s completely right! A precious key to success.
    Socially: What a jerk! That’s the sort of advice you give when you’re an outside party, not the guy who just let let the other person down.

  228. Technically, this is an intellectual mexican standoff… Would need more info to know how to respond but I would be inclined to help him if it made sense independent of his persuasive techniques. The ball is in his court if he is the lead on the project.

  229. Hey Ramit, first, let me just say how much I wanted to reach through the screen and into the past and smack this guy for you. Ass.

    Then, I think you should look to yourself just a bit and realize you dropped the ball for your team. This was something that would benefit you, you said it yourself, and you didn’t follow thru. Bet you did in the future, tho, right?

  230. If it’s worth it to me, I’ll shut up and do it. Good luck getting my attention next time though.

  231. I am a case by case person.

    In this case, the co-worker’s persuasion technique is only as compelling as how much value you would gain from helping him complete the project.

    If the value is great enough to swallow your pride then, by all means, help. But, this forever casts a shadow on this particular co-worker.

    That’s pretty much how I gauge the strength of that technique.

  232. Ramit,
    a) It’s obvious that this ex-co-worker is trapped into thinking that the decision is yours ( external ruling ) after he made the call for help.
    b) He forgot he had something to decide, reverts the problem into signaling his work is done ( the call for help ) and … now “the great responsability” became Ramit’s.
    c) This person might wake up by himself, or reject any exterior advice. Don’t know how to handle this one. Avoid him ?

  233. He is and isn’t right. He is correct that you can be right or you can be happy/get things done, sometimes. But it was his responsibility to come find you, since he asked.

    I wouldn’t have been so hard on him in my office – we are always asking each other for help and the one asked will often remind the asker, no worries. But I don’t understand why the guy who asked you wouldn’t then send you a meeting invitation, to remind himself and give you a little more incentive to find him – you’ve blocked out the time:

    Basically he was trying to guilt you. He should have apologized and he should have come to you when he realized he’d missed the day.

  234. If the task was supposed to be finished in two-three days and you knew he was not able to complete it without your help, he definitely should have done everything he could to find you the next day.
    He didn’t. And this is his fault.
    However, if he had made it really clear in the first conversation with you that your help was absolutely essential to finish the project, it would have been more efficient if you took note, and make sure to get in touch with him the next day (or the day after at latest – no matter if you had heard from him or not).

  235. I have to be honest, this story pushed my buttons.

    How would I react? I would probably say something along the lines of:

    “So what I hear you saying is that I can’t depend on you to get things done. Is that correct?”

  236. Basically, if you want to make sure that thing gets done, you need to make sure it gets done. Don’t leave it in the other guy’s hands, because chances are it won’t get done. Even if it’s something that would benefit him too.

    With some people, you can just tell them to get you when they get to that point. For a lot of people, that’s not enough. You need to check up on progress and provide energy to make sure it happens.

    Of course, you probably want to associate more with people where the former is enough. But don’t be surprised if that quality is pretty rare, and don’t expect it of people or be angry if it’s not in there. Other people have different priorities. Don’t expect them to do things that will benefit you just because it will benefit them too.

  237. “Well, I found you, so let’s get this done now.”

    No use arguing with a B player, and at the end of the day it’s not worth the hassle to try to teach a lesson to someone who seems to be aware he messed up with little regard for others. It also puts unnecessary stress on you until it gets done.

  238. I would say, “You’re right; let’s set a time right now.”

    You were both technically “right” about different points along the way, but your co-worker was right about the last–and most important–point about getting the project done. He asked for help, but he needed help with more than just the piece you were going to show him how to do. He needed unasked-for help with several things: time management and coordinating with others, for starters. He admitted that he didn’t follow the plan you had suggested, but at the same time he showed you how your ego could potentially be a factor in derailing the project.

  239. Haven’t read all of the comments in response, so I might be parroting someone.

    Provided that this co-worker doesn’t demonstrate the appropriate motivation to complete a project he’s leading, and completing the project benefits my team in some (if only disparate) way, then why should I bother to deal with him at all? If the priority is high enough for my own purposes, I’d just corral my own team and distribute the tasks needed to get the project done.

    The thing is, I can’t take over his workers–that would be intrusive. But I also can’t afford to leave the project unfinished–that would be negligent. By taking the initiative myself, (1) the project gets done regardless of circumstance, (2) I position myself to take all the glory that might come from success, and (3) competitiveness might just spark this bum into action, in which case I won’t have to do anything anyway.

    So I guess the correct response is… “You know what, you’re right.” End scene.

  240. Years ago I read an article about interpersonal (romantic) relationships that said “You can be right or you can be happy.” If failing to help the somewhat lazy co-worker would damage the work relationship long term, I would make the extra effort to assist. But this time I would set a specific appointment at a mutually convenient time. If he failed to appear at the set time, I might give him one more chance, but after a third failure, I’d walk away. He would be saying (through his behavior) his time is more valuable than mine and his priorities are not aligned with mine. Why continue to waste time and energy on such a person?

  241. He is right and here’s why:

    At the point of the conflict you ask the question about right and wrong, you have two possibilities: Rage and abandon the project or get it f**** done. And there you are. I think that taking consequences (or, if you may, punish him by not working with him anymore) only ever comes after finishing the project. You can always ask what you can improve – in this case maybe not working with him again – but do it after the project is done.

    Ramit often times tells not to throw good money after the bad, but in this case things are a bit different when deciding what’s the bad money. You really have to consider whether working with him albeit all his mistakes will get at least the project done – in that case the bad money is the rage you conjured upon him, because it does not help in finishing and neither does raging more. If you however come to the conclusion that your partner is so unreliable that no matter what you do he will break the project again, then don’t invest anymore of your precious time. (By the way, rage does not help here either – but I certainly understand that it makes you feel better.)

  242. What a dick! I would confront him and say “if you want my help next time I’d rather you not involve me, ‘I was just busy’ shows me that you are not serious and is basically an excuse that you’re giving me. This shows me you have no courtesy for MY time”

    • Not loving the judgment here, but loving the “This shows me you have no courtesy for MY time” bit. I had a client no-show on me one day and, when she rescheduled, she said something I loved and am truly grateful for: “I sincerely apologize for not calling you the other day. A conference call I was on went an hour over, but I should’ve at least texted you to let you know. I’m really sorry I didn’t honor your time. That’s very unlike me. In the future, I will make sure to end my calls on time so we can talk at the appointed time.”

      Perfect apology. It shows me that she has an understanding of the value of my time AND that she has a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

      After reading your comment, Jeff, I think it might be reasonable to respond to the coworker saying, “That’s an interesting concept. However, you did ask for my help and did not follow up with me to let me know what I could do, which I feel did not honor my time or allow me to help you with this mutually beneficial project. In the future, please know that I will need to know exactly what I can help you with from the get-go to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

  243. I must also add something from a brain trust video I had watched. You need to constantly filter out the people who will not benefit the company/work but to let them know that you have found another position that this person will be good at and that you will support them (something on this borderline).

  244. Wow. Really good question, Ramit!

    I have had this happen a lot, where people ask for my help. I usually follow-up once to indicate my commitment and let them take it from there. If they don’t respond back, well, there are plenty of other people paying me for help and asking me for help.

    Honestly, I don’t know what I would say in this situation. Usually, I don’t have the person coming back to ask me to help again. They either a) do it on their own, b) don’t do it and it doesn’t impact them, or c) they don’t do it and end up flailing in their business.

    Personally, I figure if you’re asking for my help for free and you don’t follow up my follow up, that’s shame on you, not shame on me. I accepted your request for help, followed up, and can’t go further without any information.

  245. Go to him and get the job done. Because the project pays your salary.

    Afterwards, try to never work with him again or at least avoid projects where you have to rely on his work.

    Trying to be always right is like being Sheldon Cooper.

  246. There is a difference between the good choice and the right choice, and knowing that difference is half the battle won only through wisdom. He should have submitted it late, but with the correct, or most correct choice and your help.

    Deadlines make people do silly things sometimes.

  247. The attitude of your co-worker is – can I say this – despicable. He’s passing it on to you, as “leader of a team.” You might have been quick to respond, schedule a meeting, etc. But to pass the buck in this most egregious way is beyond my ability to tolerate …….. me, having gone seriously the extra mile to get things done.

  248. My first reaction was that of course the other guy was wrong – you said you would help, but he’s got to do more than just ask you while you’re passing by.

    Then reading some responses and thinking about it more, I still think he was wrong – to ask for help, not follow through, and then drop the work because he didn’t have your help – but you were also wrong by expecting the work to have been done because it would benefit you and your team, but at the same time not taking any initiative to help it to be done.

    Sometimes people ask for my help and never follow through but sometimes that’s because they found another solution, someone else helped them, or they were re-assigned to another project. I usually try to follow up once or twice, but that’s about the limit. If I reach out and they still don’t respond, their failure is not my problem (and I probably wouldn’t like the quality of their work anyway).

  249. 1st conversation: “What are you working on?” “How might it benefit me and my team? “How can I help you get it done?” “I’m around tomorrow, and would like to schedule this in so we get it done. 10am works for me.”

    2nd conversation (it’s 10am): Ready to get started?

    3rd conversation: “whoo. major work, major progress. I can see the benefits accruing already. Let’s check with each other in a few weeks, see if we need to make any tweaks.”

  250. I am just curious why exactly are we all micro analysing this situtation ? I read the post 2-3 times and still cant get it .

    Half off the replies here kind of assume that this was an “employee” and not a co-worker. So I would avoid being harsh in my response but firm.

    Now my reply would be all dependent on whats at Stake – Its all about what situation I am in when this co-worker comes back to me.

    I will in each of the situations below remind him about the way he asked and never showed up.So that in future he respects my time a bit more.

    1- If I dont have time and dont have any personal interest- will remind him an say no.
    2- If I have time but no personal interest- might say yes based on his apology and need.
    3- If I dont have time but still compelling personal interest- remind him but say yes.
    4- If I have time and compelling personal interest – remind him and say yes.

    But isnt it common sense ? :D .. no disrespect to anyone.

  251. Ramit,

    Focus on what matters. Never treat anyone with disrespect (like they owe you something)

    A few years ago, I was given the best advice by a mentor.

    He said, “When you first meet someone, always treat them as if they are smarter/more experienced/more accomplished/harder working, regardless of their age/demeanor/what they are wearing/etc. It will often be true and you will be glad that you made a good first impression by taking them seriously.”

    So, if something matters to you and it has meaning, find them.

  252. Dude you were way to passive. ‘Come and find me in the morning?’ You should have been all over it if you really wanted to do it.

  253. This actually happens to me very often at work.

    If “not being found” has a negative impact on my work – ie could cause me to miss my own deadlines, I take the lead, do what I know needs to be done, then give an update of what was accomplished. I work for a newspaper, we cannot afford to have empty spaces. Also, there is a relationship of trust and respect – they trust I’ll get to it if something happens that they forgot about it, mostly because they attend a lot of meetings. I’m lucky, I rarely have any.

    Yes, it’s much more work for me, but it also makes my job a lot easier. There is nothing worse than being “on hold”. I find I’m a lot less productive when I’m sitting around waiting to be found. This extra effort is appreciated. I don’t necessarily get big kudos for it, but my requests for time off to attend professional events are usually accepted, for instance. It’s a top-performer thing to do, especially if the co-worker’s position is higher than yours.

    On the other hand, if it does not affect my work, I usually wait for the person to find me, while I get my work done.

    I’d say it depends on the situation. But, based on my personal and work experiences, most of the time, I’d side with your co-worker. Doing so enhances my own happiness.

  254. Doesn’t matter who is right – ‘it’ didn’t get done. Winning the blame game is a hollow victory at very best. You both lost

  255. Hm.

    Going by GTD philosophy I would have blocked out some time right away with him. In my experience if it’s not written it won’t get done. Plus, now you’ve both made a commitment, which makes it more concrete for all.

    Most importantly you’d have a better idea of how much time you really need to accomplish the task in question (and if you can actually commit to spending that time). Time is not an elastic resource, and it’s easy to overcommit.

  256. It is not about powr, position or who is right. It is transactional encounter.

    Is he passing the task by asking for help or is he in need of help and wants your assistance? I would ask how can I help you at the request. This would define the required assistance. I would try to figure out if I could help now or need to schedule a mutually convienent time. I do not take the task over from the requester and make that clear. Scheduling something tomorrow is like scheduling it for never, it is not scheduling assistance, it is telling the requester I am too busy to help.

    If I said I will help tomorrow, it is now on me to say when tomorrow. If I provide a vaugue time, I am guilty of not scheduling the assistance.

    It really come down to answering:
    What help is required?
    Why is the help required?
    When should we work on the assistance?
    What outcomes should we expect?

    Gerry

  257. I would recommend agreeing on a fixed date, time, and location to meet and address the problems that your co-worker is having on his project. In my experience, it is easy to put off a casual meeting, but it is psychologically more difficult to cancel a scheduled commitment. It might be best to ask him when / where would be most convenient for him to meet, since this approach will likely ensure his cooperation.

  258. my thinking on how you should response…
    Technically, I offered to help and the offer still stands and if the situation occurs in the future you need to help find me. I him here to help however I’m not here to cover up when you drop the ball.

    A tough love approach based on my conversations with directors/managers regarding letting people fail… to a person they said, offer to consult with the co-worker on the how to to the work, but the project manager need to be the accountable party/person.

  259. Ramit, in this particular situation you both are correct. He said that he needed your help and you stated that it would help your team. Each of you should have made the effort to contact the other since it was beneficial to each of you.

    This is analogous to having the right of way at an intersection but not taking care of the other traffic. You or he could be DEAD RIGHT by not watching for the other guy plowing through the intersection. If you get my drift.

  260. I would have to say he is totally wrong, but has positioned it as though he is right.

    These are the people who say things like “You just need to take more initiative”, or “You have an employee mindset” when it is actually brushing off the fact that they haven’t done something.

    Hello projection.

  261. The fact that there was a break-down of communication from the beginning would annoy me. IF he was busy, he should have made me aware that he would not be able to connect with me, and we could set another time.

    I like to work with people who communicate well and are precise, and in this case he wasn’t so I don’t think I would like to do a project with him anyway. I don’t think it is about swallowing your pride, I think it’s about working with people who do what they say they are going to do. That being said, I would have flipped him an email at the end of that day and asked what happened, and depending on his attitude decide whether I’d want to go ahead anyway.

  262. Being “right” can be the thief of all we work for in business, relationships, etc. Are we taking risks and getting some big wins or are we more worried about covering our butts? Sometimes we have to let go of being “right” to actually achieve goals, which in this case would have been the benefit of the project being completed. This is much tougher to follow through on than articulate.

  263. Brenda Everett Link to this comment

    It’s like the saying: do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
    Thisapears to be manipulative as there was no hnt he expected you to contact him.
    Still, ifi had not heard or seen the guy the next day, I might have checked in to see what’s up so as to manage my time schedule.
    Yet I don’t like the vibe of being under handed… putting the onus on you. I’d do it for my team … and steer clear of him if possible.

  264. I’d probably just tackle it then and there… He didn’t come to see me b4 he’s in front if me right now lets do this… i guess being an expert at something it doesn’t matter who’s right it’s about imparting yr expertise and seizing the moment to teach and impart the know how…

  265. If he wanted it bad enough it would have been a priority in his BUSY day. His project, his responsibility. How bad does HE want it to get done??? Not very, obviously. And, if he didn’t even know how to do the project why is in charge of it to begin with? Not such a go-getter obviously which may mean a vacant position in the future for someone who will follow through. Besides, if he is not dependable enough to help himself, his team and his project, how could it fully benefit Ramit’s team? No doubt, Ramit would get stuck doing all the work while this guy took the credit.

  266. He’s right. You should help him for yourself, and for your team. That it’s going to also help him is beside the point. You have no control over his actions, only over your own.

  267. You could have just repeated what he said right back at him.

    “Technically, you’re right. But you have to decide if you want to be right…or you want this to get done.”

    Exactly

  268. I don’t disagree that he should have looked for you the next day. But sometimes proactively offering your assistance or support to someone who’s really swamped, without them asking for it, can really mean a lot to that person. In my experience, co-workers will sometimes say that they will help with a project but then they don’t really mean it. Or I get caught up in a tight deadline and won’t have time to find that person the next day. So if someone came up to me to help without me asking, I’d feel really grateful towards that person.

    If I were in your situation and didn’t have a lot of time or didn’t feel that the project was a big deal, I probably would not follow-up. But if I thought he/she was a reasonable person but just really swamped, then I would probably approach him/her and try to help out in any way.

  269. Ignore the idiot, get it done anyway… and take the credit YOURSELF

  270. Being a team leader, your Co-worker should have followed through with you after taking the initial step of asking for help. He doesnt appear to have the traits of a decision maker. But I feel if you had some time to spare, you could have looked for him and helped him anyway. By doing so, you help your own team, and you provide a real example of how a real leader acts. This doesn’t mean you have to help or trust him ever again, but the bridge hasn’t been burned, and your point proven. As a nice plus, taking this step leaves zero room for a bone headed comment like that! And of he does anyway? Well it says a lot about him doesn’t it?

  271. Sometimes you do have to go above and beyond. But, this isn’t one of those times; This is simple.

    Again, I’m willing to help you on your project; Let me know how I can help you and come find me when you need me.

  272. I try to keep in mind my appointments, so I always remember that I am supposed to make contact that day. Sometimes, if I am not super busy, I follow through with the person just to ask why he/she didn’t show up. Occasionally, people have valid reasons to miss the meeting. I leaned this from other people who are more patient and generous than me.

  273. I say you were operating from very transactional place, and not one of relationship and teamwork. You had the opportunity to be the top leader here, who sees beyond who did what. It was too much of a give-and-take mindset (ask me how I know :), instead of looking at the big picture, the bigger vision and being a leader that is willing to get things done.

  274. I am reading Tina Seelig’s book What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, and there’s a relevant joke in there:

    A man constantly prays to God to let him win the lottery, but after many years does not win anything. He finally lashes out at God, who replies in a booming voice, “It would help if you actually buy a ticket”.

    I think your response was fine; you offered your help and even gave him an instruction “just find me tomorrow”. Your co-worker didn’t take his action, end of story.

    The co-worker also sounds like a manipulative type who won’t stick to his end of the bargain, and instead decides to guilt trip the other party (to the point that the other party asks about it in a blog several years later).

    I find it somewhat cruel of your co-worker to talk of “sometimes if you want someone to do something, you have to go above and beyond” when he didn’t do it himself in approaching you!

  275. Live and learn!

    In the next time round, you could seek him out (“Did you want to show me something..”)…especially if it was to your benefit/ your team’s, then leave it to him after that to take your offer to the next level. The 2 or 3 attempt rule (same as friends, and family) applies here, just to say to him you triiiiieed..

    Him blaming you for not seeking him out, ie getting it done?

    Not your fault, but he provided you with an insight into how he handles people/workflow/potential problems, to keep in mind if you meet him or this kind of person again.

    Did this help? Hopefully for someone it does!

  276. As you were relaying the story, I was totally on your side, until the end when I realized that the job that needed to get done may have mattered more to you and your team than him. The story does lack a bit of context and I have no clue if his other tasks which distracted him from completing the job were, to him, more important.

    I believe strongly that people need to be held accountable to their responsibilities. I also believe that sometimes people need to triage their tasks and focus on those that are most important to them given the circumstances.

    In this situation, you have a right not to offer him help for the second time. However, if the job is critical to your overall team, and you are the best to teach him, then it is in your best interest to help him accomplish his task. A task that still may not be at the top of his priority list.

    With all of that said, if the task was important to the overall team, despite his own personal goals, and he has proven that he cannot follow through, I would simply delegate away from him in the future.

  277. If it is important for your team. After he didn’t show up. I would take over the project, or have someone in the team have ownership. Pure and simple. You want someone working on it who wants it complete, who wants it done properly. If the person managing the project is too busy, it might indicate they have too much on their plate and that its one of their “lesser” projects. Eventually it will probably get flipped to you.

    Alternatively. Recently if I’m having a conversation with a coworker and they need me to do something – I ask them to email me with the details. Often they forget. A colleague pointed out that when I get back to my desk to send out an email “prompting” them to send me the details.

    In this case at the start of the day, send out an email reminding him that you’re available to help and get him to commit to a time.

    Rohan

  278. The project is his and depends to what extent it would help my team, I’d probably not bother.

  279. I actually agree with the coworker. I’d respond by saying as much, then point out that since the project would be mutually beneficial, we should focus on how to accomplish it given the time and resources onhand.
    I’d also make a mental note that this coworker, while he may be stellar in other aspects, should be checked on often when he’s in the lead on an important project, since he seems to lack time management skills or follow-through.

  280. Firstly, this person speaks in tongues. Very convoluted. If he is leading a team, it’s his job to get the team together because everyone is busy. His comment that he was busy is insinuates that you (and others aren’t?) which is insulting too.

    So, I would have responded: “Listen, I offered my time. Its not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about you as the team leader getting the job done — and that includes planning for team resources!”

  281. Michael Whitehurst Link to this comment

    Wow. We are strange creatures. I would say the following:

    “That is an interesting perspective from the person who’s reputation is tied to the success of this project. It sounds like you aren’t actually looking for my help, but instead you are looking to offload this project on me. Since this will benefit my team as well I tell you what I will do. I am going to head over to [manager who assigned project]‘s office and let them know that you are struggling to complete the project, so I am going to jump in and get it finished… for the team. I would appreciate it if you would forward me the project files so I can get right on it. Thanks!”

  282. I’ll just tell him, “if you want this to get done, you would have initiated a time to meet. Sometimes, being right is more important that getting things done. But let’s still fix a time to meet if you are still interested in my helping”. I’m assuming that this project isn’t that crucial to your group, but I feel that trust and team spirit are still important factors in the workplace, and by letting the co-worker know that you are disappointed by his attitude, hopefully he realises that you see him as a valuable co-worker instead of merely another cog in the wheel.

  283. You can’t control others you can only control you. If you want something and can control it then take control, forget right and wrong.

  284. the person was probably stuck and a little of your help could have gotten them past their barrier. As far as if he was right, I come from a context of of 100% responsibility. You are 100% responsible and so is he. The result was not produced. Neither of you took responsibility to make sure that it happened.

  285. It doesn’t sound like he wants help with the project, sounds like he wants to offload it.

    “Then he said something I’ll never forget: “Technically, you’re right. But you have to decide if you want to be right…or you want this to get done.””
    That part seriously sounds like an offload.

    In which case he is right & the question that needs to be answered is how much will it help your team, how badly does your team need this project.

    If the answer is the team needs it really badly, then you will make time. If the team doesn’t need it the project that much & you are busy, then you have the option of walking away from it.

  286. […] Be the Expert: How would you respond to this co-worker? is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich. […]

  287. If someone asks for my help, I first find out how long they need my time and the level of urgency. If it is short (15 minutes or less) and urgent, I try to do it then and there. If it takes longer or it can wait until another day, I schedule a time to meet with them and add it to my online calendar and theirs immediately.

    Another thing to consider: If you have no time to help, is there someone else on your team who you can refer the other person to who can help immediately.

    I do think the person is wrong to say “do you want to be right or get it done”, when the impetus was put on them to get it done in the first place. It is their job to get it done on time even if the finished job offers a benefit to your team. If they cannot live up to the commitment, then they need to mention that early enough that others are aware and can plan accordingly.

  288. Yes he is right and he is very manipulative and lazy. I would finish the project with or without him and then never ever deal with him again. Especially since I made the mistake of offering my help. We have to deal with every type of personality in a business setting. This guy is a bottom feeder, who has figured out how to get his way and get out of working. It is really too bad that he doesn’t harness that ability to think outside of the box and use it for a more productive work environment.

    The twist is that he placed blame and quilt so that he came out smelling like a rose and you were letting your team down by not completing the project. For him it is a win-win situation. He gets his project done. Makes him look great. If he doesn’t get it done, it’s because you didn’t help, and you look bad to your team. Double edged sword. He wins you lose. You have to complete the project to help your team. Stinks but it’s all about how you play the game.

  289. This would not have happened to me. When approached for help (if I want to help) I schedule a meeting time and place. Done.

  290. If his work were merely beneficial to me, but not necessary, my reply would be “You’re absolutely right. When you decide you want to get this done, come find me.”

  291. It’s pretty clear to me that you gave the instruction for him to “find you”. I take it literally to mean you mutually agreed that He would find YOU. So you expected it, otherwise he should have been clear on the alternative.

  292. Ramit,

    Interesting post. Realistically I deal with this on a daily basis, I set the agendas and projects. I find that people need that touch once in awhile to keep focus.

    No matter what getting results matters more than being right. If you have to drag them kicking and screaming along with you to the results that is fine. Eventually they will go away if they are not worth contributing towards your success. As a driver personality I give away credit for almost everything my team does, why, isn’t that crazy? Nope, everyone knows that the initiation comes from me and the results are from the team with my vision driving them.

    So why should I care who gets credit, everyone knows who gets results. Be a driver and bring them along, ensure accountability and responsibility but be results orientated.

    In short, kick him in the ass and help him get the job done. You all win.

  293. Look, if something is important to me, and I will be judged or evaluated on it, then it is my responsibility to seek help and stay on top of things and people who can help me achieve the objective. This stuff of “technically you are right, but if you want something done. . . bla, bla, bla” is pure B.S. It’s just passing on the accountability of results to someone else.

  294. Initially, I would think that since that co-worker is the one needing the help, then yes, he should have been trying to find me at every chance he got! However, I believe by him approaching ME in the first place is all that needed to occur for me to go above and beyond to show I am more than willing to help. At least following up with an email or a visit to his desk to ask about the project again and advise him I that I never received any set of directions. True leaders do not wait until opportunities come to them, true leaders take advantage of any opportunity to step up to the plate, and look for open doors to showcase their skills. Sometimes people get job offers for really important positions with great salaries for a company they may have just been doing volunteer work for as fun or community service. With anything you do, it must be treated as some form of personal gain is in it for yourself, because it is a part if you and subsequently your personal branding.

  295. I think in life it is very important just to take care of yourself and if someone asks for a tip or two along the way write up a memo and pass it along especially if your a busy man/woman. It is so important to not waste time on negative people and sometimes you get what you pay for in life whether its time, wealth, etc..

  296. It seems that from your coworker’s point of view, getting the project done is more of a help to your team than to himself. There is a feeling of “yeah, this is my project, but I’m not the one benefitting, so why should I drive it forward?” From this perspective it is possible to see why he did not feel responsible for getting your help.

  297. I tend to take someone asking for my help seriously. I trend to get them to commit to a time and define the help needed right when they ask. If I was doing it for the benefit of my own team, then I would make sure that at least that part was being handled.
    On the other hand, I’ve recently been told that my enthusiasm and ‘come on, put you back into it

  298. Style upset some people.

  299. I am thinking this would have been easily sorted if the two of you booked some time to get it done, rather than “sometime” when he found you. Be specific and accountable for time. As for the being right vs getting it done….seems a bit of a cop out for that guy to say that seeing he didn’t finish the job. Might have been a different story if he did finish something that you subsequently thought was poor quality..

  300. If I was free and still happy to help,I’d say, “okay let’s do 3 pm tomorrow and this time call me if you can’t make it”. At 3 pm, I’d try to reach him because I blocked out the time in my diary anyway.

    My decision to help would not just be based on the project, for instance I might see a colleague struggling with work and just think, “hey this guy’s about to get himself fired and I have some time, so why not.” or if getting the task done is important for me, then I’d be more pro active in finding him.

    But to be honest, if I didn’t like the guy or he’d pull this sort of stunt before and getting the task done was just not that important for me, I’d just give him the next available slot in my diary and let him come and get me. Or not.

  301. I think between doing it right and doing the right thing…just like the choice between efficiency and effectiveness…I prefer effectiveness.

  302. I’d be tempted to be right rather than get things done and just let his attitude catch up with him. In fact, “Find me sometime tomorrow” is probably a response that I’d give if I wanted the least chance of having to deal with something in the future. Putting the ball vaguely in someone else’s court is a good way to make sure I’m unlikely to have to invest any time.

    However, as you said the project would benefit you, I would have said, “Okay let’s meet tomorrow at your desk at 10am unless you are in a meeting then and you call me beforehand to schedule another time.” This removes as many barriers as possible in setting up the meeting and probably saves you time in the long run from waiting for him to show up at your desk or anything like that.

    It’s all about barriers–removing some when you want to get things done, and putting them up if you really don’t want to waste your time.

  303. What the other guy should or shouldn’t have done is pretty irrelevant, because you can’t change that.

    In any case, he was 100% right. Nobody is in charge of your career but you, nobody is in charge of your success but you, and if getting this thing done will be useful to you, then you will have to take whatever responsibility you are able to for making sure it gets done.

    There is exactly no point in complaining “woe is me, my life is not the way I would like it to be, but it’s all these other people’s fault who didn’t do X, Y and Z”.

    On the other hand, if the thing is not worth your time and effort, then it’s the other guy’s problem that he didn’t get his shit together.

  304. If this investment and the impact on the future investment i’ll have to do in the relationship is worth doing it (comparing to other possible solutions) i take the lead on the common part to secure the realization.

  305. Elizar Tringov Link to this comment

    I would respond to him: “So you know I am right? You want to get this project to get done? But you don’t want to do something as simple as finding me? Frankly I would rather be right then help you with a project. What would you rather have though? You come and find me and get the project done or you sit on your ass waiting for me to come and never finish the project?”

  306. Main question for me: Is this guy a higher performer or aspiring to be? It doesn’t look like it to me.

    My response if I were him, would NOT be “Technically, you’re right.” It would be, “You are absolutely right. I dropped the ball, not you. How can I make it right, and dissect this clearly and succinctly with you as a learning experience to make sure this does not happen again. Let’s get quickly to the heart of MY mistake, MY failure, and let’s make this relationship work at a high level like I know it can.”

    Evidence of his response is not very promising. 1) He is not taking responsibility. 2) He is not finding a way to learn from his gaffe. 3) He is not proposing an alternative action and follow-though to make it right. That is the one thing a high performer must be: proactive (in the service of raising the level of engagement).

    This guy has signaled that he is not ready for prime time. If you detect he has a WHOLE bunch of talent and connections and is a “diamond in the rough” with just this one fatal flaw, then maybe…

    You (Ramit) might say something like, “My performance is not just about completing tasks but forging powerful working relationships. You need to show me you can initiate and follow through. What do you propose? Take the lead in responding to your disappearing act and show me you have the chops to make YOUR end right, and I’ll reconsider working with you. If your answer is, ‘I am too busy’, then there is not much to say. Good luck.”

  307. Fist of all let’s agree that we’re dealing here with a very tricky psychological manipulation from the co’worker. He found a very persuasive way to pass the responsibility of his own, to more vulnerable and reliable co-worker (that would be Ramit in this case).

    The whole dilemma here is about: completing the project vs not letting the co-worker to exploit and disrespect Ramit. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that jerk would share the great junk of success after the project was completed by his co-workers…

    What I would do?

    Officially I would say No, just to make it clear that I’m not the one who will play in his manipulation games plus, and it’s a big plus, that person should realize his responsibilities and duties within the project, otherwise his not a reliable team player, thus he shouldn’t be in the team in the first place. So I would allow him to screw up his part and to make it visible for the rest of the team/manager.
    Unofficially, in a meantime I would prepare do the job needed to complete the project in case the “manipulator” would screw up, but I would bring my solution to the table only after he proved to be invalid team player.

    Yes, my strategy seems like a tricky manipulation as well BUT counterattack which would allow me 1. either force him to do HIS job and never manipulate me in the future projects or 2. allow him to screw up and leave the project or change his attitude to the job and people in the team.

    p.s. and remember, If you let them use you once, they will always do it twice!

  308. To be frank, I think a lot more context if needed before I can really give a solid answer to this question. First, is this something YOU would actually want done, or is he just asking you help as a personal favor? If the first is true, then he’s absolutely right, you should just have sought him out anyways, and gotten the job done – this proves that you are diligent enough to rise above petty questions of who does what from whom, and just get the important stuff done. However, you should watch for more of the same behavior from him – if you see it, he might not be reliable enough to work with. If it’s the latter, then he’s just forgetful or didn’t think through his priorities before approaching you, and you would be justified in blowing him off for that.

  309. Geez Louise…….lololol
    First, we all lead very busy lives. We could be working on a project that requires someone else’s assistance and some where along the line something else comes up and we have to push back our deadline granted for whatever reason. Maybe he should not have given you a timeline but rather asked you to be there when he was absolutely sure and ready to work on whatever it was.

    Now, the problem is….that we have expectations of and for others all the time. If you could somehow Ramit, not hold the worker to expectations. Things change all the time, but rather just be there when “the” time comes and he is ready. Everyone isn’t as structured, focused and “on it” as you are! Meet people where “they” are. So…..say he wasn’t ready then, but ready now? Are you willing to let go of the…….wellllll……..”you said that weeks ago” etc. and just be there “now” if it fits into your schedule? If your schedule doesn’t accommodate him now, because you are not available, that’s another story. If you “are” available then the time is now. Let the rest go. Don’t be so cerebral over it. “You” would have handled the matter a different way because that is who “you” are. He is who he is and everyone operates differently. Everyone’s drive is different. Forgive him for his short comings. You may also be teaching him something in the process. Let him know how you felt about it so the next time he could perhaps approach it in a different way. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. He may get distracted more easily than you but, may be ready now. Then forget the rest and help him now.

  310. Eh, should have shot him an email in the next day to say, “Hey, you still need help with that thing? I’m free at 2 if you do, or we can schedule another time,” and leave it be. Now you’ve done your due diligence. The degree to which it would have actually helped your project would dictate how forcefully you needed to follow up with him.

    He asked YOU for help, and then didn’t follow through at all, what does he expect?

  311. Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Someone (a client or your boss) is looking for a deliverable. They do not care about drama of the process, and you (and your company) will be crucified if you deliver incomplete results. Suddenly it is clear that failure is not an option. Adjust for his weaknesses and just get it done.

    Every team has members with strengths and weaknesses. Ramit’s coworker might be an effective leader but poor at keeping schedules. The team needs to compensate, and it looks like this is just one issue that has not been resolved yet. We all have things to improve upon… it’s just easier to see it in others than ourselves.

    To identify and improve behavior you need to address the coworker on two levels.
    1. Address behavior immediately. Return with something witty but reserved like “shoot, good thing you’re not in charge of coffee or we’d all be screwed.” This lets him know you’re calling him out and don’t appreciate his lack of action.
    2. Set up a post-project review of successes and failures. Be direct, constructive, and professional. This is the time to provide suggestions, such as utilizing calendar invitations in this case.

  312. Interesting situation, even though I’d never expect this reaction from a co-worker, these things happen to us all too often.

    Based on what you described Ramit, this task was clearly a high priority for you and a much lower one for him. If he had needed to get it done as bad as you, I’m sure he would have found you.

    It’s hard to get things done, when not everyone feels the same urgency for the task.

    One way would be to accept the fact that priorities are not at the same levels, but I’m sure Ramit, you must have already figured out a way to handle this situation and I look forward to hear it.

  313. I think the key to the problem was Ramit’s initial response.”Sure,” I said, “just find me tomorrow and I’ll show you how to do it.”

    This puts the other guy on the defensive, since Ramit could have been mis-interpreted as saying, “You’re an idiot and I’m going to set you straight.” Instead, now the guy can come up with excuses for not meeting with Ramit.

    It’s a lot easier to sell somebody on something, including your help, if you sell it from the point of view “you’re pretty good, and I can bring out the awesome in you” instead of “you suck and I’ll show you how to do things.” (Did I previously learn this from Ramit? I get my internet gurus confused after a while.)

    Instead of saying “…I’ll show you how to do it” Ramit could have said something like “I’ve got some pointers that might help.”

  314. This guy sucks. It’s his project that he’s lead of and he needs your help, but he wants you to take initiative and schedule the time. As said by many people above, one thing missing from here is a set time to meet: instead we have a game of “you didn’t find me.”

    I would say to him, “Dude, this is your project. Let’s meet up at 12:30 tomorrow (whatever time is good on my calendar), and I can show you how to do it. Every day you push it back you’re hurting your team and mine, so let’s get it done.”

    I appreciate the “twist of fate” in “do you want to be right – or do you want to be done?” – but that’s no excuse for passing the buck on your own work. You affect others, not just yourself.

  315. Ramit based on the your financial literature (blog, pdf,etc) some of your key words are long term and specific, with that being said it would have been better to be Specific i.e. schedule a time and place to meet with him instead of saying “find me”. Additionally “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results: If he did not find you the first time why would this work the 2nd time.
    In the long term you colloborating with him would not only assist your team it would increase your knowledge base and bring the project closer to completion. The relationship that would have developed between yourself and the project lead would augur well for the future.

  316. This is a great question.
    I know how much wanting to be right can get in the way. And I have also seen that taking over for another person, rescuing them from their responsibility, doesn’t really work.
    So I would actually tell this person that: I don’t see that this project has much chance for success unless you are ready to take responsibility for yourself.

  317. I can relate to the other person very well. He was buried and he reached out to you. But you told him to reach out to you again later. He said he’s slammed and you said you would help. So, why did you insist that he go seek you out at a more convenient time for you? On the receiving end, it seems like you weren’t honestly as willing to help as you said. Otherwise, you would have shown up and jumped in.

    As for his comment about your choice, I can relate to that too. I had Platinum Training Service when I managed an IT Department at a Country Club. Even though I worked behind the scenes and managed the technology, every employee was required to attend the training. The Platinum Service concept was that you always do your best to help out your team and especially the club patrons. That being said, if you had the choice to be right or to be nice, that you should be nice. It strengthens and builds your relationships with the other staff and members of the club. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter as much who was right. It matters most whether the work was completed and the benefit was received from the work. By helping him, you might have built stronger loyalty and trust in addition to “saving the project”.

    It’s all a matter of perspective and not right & wrong here.

  318. Then he said something I’ll never forget: “Technically, you’re right. But you have to decide if you want to be right…or you want this to get done.”

    1. His statement positions “you’re right” and “get this done” as mutually exclusive. They aren’t. The facts were: you were right (he agrees), his project was delayed, he still needed your help to get it done.

    2. Allowing him to shift blame for his delayed project would have reinforced his behavior and guaranteed it happened again.

    3. Since you “exploded”, he prefaced his statement with “you’re right” to diffuse your frustration,

    4. Assumption: the time needed to teach him what to do was less than 15 minutes because a longer task would have required coordinating schedules up front.

    A good response to him:

    “, you’re right too. Your success on this project is important to me and I know it’s important to you. Let me show you how to do right now.”

    His response would have been either: “Great. Let’s do it.” or “I don’t have time right now. Are you free at time tomorrow?”

  319. My response is: he’s wrong. The importance of a critical project getting done should take preference over whether he was right or wrong about not finding you. He probably has an issue with getting help from others when he finds himself struggling with a problem or project that needs a solution. I would try to make the person aware that I am not trying to find fault on whether he was right or wrong about finding me to help finish the project. I would emphasize how important it is/was to get the project done and to not be afraid, if that’s the right word, of asking for help even if I know I am right when you may be wrong. If that is a pattern of behavior on his part where he failed to finish projects assigned, then I would fire him. Just my two cents and I could be wrong in my analysis of the situation.

  320. Thank for presningen a great scenario, and for all the responses.

    One Way of alting in these situations, where there is benefit for both teams, it could be to at the first contact to say; Lets schedule time for tomorrow so we Can get this started.

  321. This is a question of past work ethic.

    It really depends on the behavioral history of your co-worker. If he is consistently un-dependable in beginning or completing projects, this current project will yield the same result, if you need his input.

    However, if he is a consistent completer and he was genuinely overwhelmed by work at the time. Consider this a slight annoyance and go find him to complete the important project.

  322. Hi Ramit. In this type of situation, I would have checked in with him or her the next day. Especially if I sensed my co-worker was feeling a little overwhelmed. Technically, he should have come to you first, but sometimes we all need a little extra help. And if that person was a valued coworker/employee, all the more important to reach out. And not just because the project he was working on was important to your department, but because he was important.

  323. I think he didn’t carry the right attitude that time. Obviously if I need some help I got to go around and in case I’m not going then certainly there should be a valid reason.
    And its like what’s important that time if task needs to be finished first for me I would go for it but surely would make that person realize and lessen my availability.

  324. It doesn’t really matter if he’s right.

    Did it work? Did you help him with the project?

  325. Being right has nothing to do with getting things done. If it was a benefit to your team you should have sought out the other person and done what was necessary (within reason) to help him complete the project. Everyone has their own priority’s.

  326. I think there is something missing here: how accessible were you that day? If it was relatively easy for him to find you, then he should have been on it.

    On the other hand, if he tired repeatedly to find/contact you, but didn’t, can you fault him for that?

    If the project didn’t get done because he couldn’t track you down, he should have found help elsewhere. To say “I don’t have this projected completed because I couldn’t find you to help me with it,” is not an acceptable reason for not having the project completed.

  327. If it would help my team in a way that was worth the extra work, then I’d help him. If not, then I’d tell him (in a more professional way) to fxck off.

  328. My wife said u should give him a slap on his face and i won’t stop u if u want to do so.
    1) if the thing is more important to you than him, then smile to him and get the thing done First, then fire him.
    2) if the thing is more important to him than u, then fire him straight away so he would know who’s right in reality, but not just technically.

  329. Personally, I would have examined what he said. Technically, both can be true. It’s not an either/or situation, and he knows it. He looks like he was pulling a power play. It was disrespectful to you, really. You were busy too, yet you took the time to talk to him. You didn’t make excuses.

    If it had been me, I might have said, “Look, this isn’t an either/or, situation, really. You asked for my help. Finishing this project helps both of us. But if you’re heading it, as a leader, you need to set a good example. You asked me for help, and I told you to come find me when you had time. If you do truly want my help, that would be great for both of us, but I need you to meet me halfway, here. Respect my time and that I’m busy too, but I still want to help.”

  330. When I read your question my mind currently shifts into a western/corporate verses a non-western paradigm in how to answer this question. Having been born and raised in America, my first reaction would have been what you expressed but having dealt with many individuals from around the world I am learning that my paradigm rarely is received as intended in those environments.

    There is not enough information for me to formulate the best answer. I am making a lot of assumptions. However it is my belief that the crucible for this interaction can be found in the statement “you have to decide if you want to be right…or you want this to get done.”

    It is my belief that “Getting the job done” outweighs the egoic function of proving one is right and making another wrong. I struggle with this but I am in process of what I perceive to be growing. I am hungry for growth, development, and resurrection from the ashes of my learning process.

    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this survey and have a great day and continued success.

    Eric

  331. Being ‘right ‘ accomplishes nothing. Except perhaps feeding one’s ego. Getting something done on the other hand is generally critical to one’s success. Doing a project for someone because it also fulfills the needs of your team is acceptable.

    The caveat here is, if this person is exhibiting a pattern of behavior in terms of lack of effective and timely communication and not getting the job done and that impacts others negatively, it needs to be addressed pronto.

  332. Been in similar situations a few times. Here are 6 examples ( 3 experiences + 3 common situations I face today ) :

    Experience 1:
    > She = 35, unrelated department; mentioned in passing that she thought there might be “synergies”
    > Me = 22 yrs; fresh MBA; zero industry experience; was of low-to-no value
    > Method:
    • I went to her the next day & asked how I could help. Then, stayed up a few nights to solve the business analytics area she wanted help with.
    • The person’s tone / attitude didn’t deter me. I let her be right, and got things done personally because I wanted to learn the ropes.
    > Result : Worked out quite well for me. The lady was an astute business woman & I picked up valuable lessons from her.

    …………………………

    Experience 2:
    > Me = 25 yrs; demonstrated experience in 6-sigma processes; responsible for marketing the biggest direct banking portfolio in the company
    > He = 27 yrs; team-member with an equally impressive portfolio; but no experience in online marketing, processes or analytics; Asked for help in these areas.
    > Method: He was a friend & I was feeling helpful … I helped him grasp the basics over the next few weeks.
    > Result : This would have been just fine. However, 4 weeks later I found out that…
    • He was being sent to my market as a local liaison instead of me…
    • I was being passed up because I was “a ‘young girl’ who couldn’t possibly handle the ‘hardships’ of a foreign country”.
    • For the next 6 months or so this person was “driving” me – I was doing all the work, and he was getting all the kudos.
    • That I was right; going above & beyond and getting things done … didn’t work out so well. I left the organization less than a year later.
    > Of course this left a bad taste. But, it also opened my eyes to degrees of trust & the depth of gender biases in workplaces.

    …………………………

    Experience 3:
    > He = 39 & CEO of the firm; highest value in the system; Needed positive results in a specific product-market challenge
    > Me = 28 and “The Bitch”… a.k.a… Delivered relentlessly + Saw through the b.s. & didn’t put up with it + Had very strong walls up
    > Method:
    • I said “Sure, i’m solving X right now; but let me know when you’d like to discuss”.
    • I would have easily dropped my current work & focused on his priority if he demanded it. But he didn’t.
    • Instead he came to me the next day, coordinated times & respected my commitments. We solved the problem over the next few weeks.
    > Things that probably lent to this “equal” treatment
    • I learnt by now that to be taken seriously, especially as a woman, I needed to state things politely but matter-of-fact-ly.
    • I didn’t have to be apologetic (like we women tend to be) & I didn’t have to be combative (like many men tend to be)
    • I had repeatedly delivered on projects *despite* office politics… which earned me the reputation of a “Bitch”… but also the CEO’s respect. He always had a “If she says so, then it must be so” attitude towards me.
    • Any persuasion on my part was done by establishing value & trust.

    …………………………

    Today, I’m 32 & run my 1-person-small-business. I face similar situations with potential clients who…
    > use the “friend” card to suck my brain dry
    > will not pay for my time or advice & not act on it anyway
    > act like they are doing me a favor by “letting me in” on their multi-million dollar idea.

    Frustrating. But I’m neither the wide-eyed doe nor the bitch. “Balance” is kicking in & i’m learning the art of outcome-driven actions.

    Here’s how i currently deal with my top 3 challenges today:

    …………………………

    + Situation 1:
    > He = “Busy-in-Meetings-Boss-Man”; Wants priority-access; Has to win all the time; Has no handle on execution; Will not pay; Will talk down;
    > My intended outcome = Run away (not possible) ; Say no (everything has a price) ; Not hurt his ego (… shouldn’t there be points for trying?).
    > Method:
    • Listen to him with complete attention the first time around & suggest a broad but *relevant* guideline to what *he* could do with *his* team
    • Establish that I have A,B,C commitments worth $X for the next Y months to establish the value of my time & skill & demand.
    > Results – TERRIBLE.
    > Usually the guy takes the “prove-yo-worth-to-me” road; proceeds to talk down aggressively; questions my judgement tenaciously; then writes me off as a “bitch” permanently. Finally he backs off. But sometimes he’s more fun. He drops some juicy unverifiable comments here & there … and before you know it, i’ve killed someone’s unborn babies. The guy’s a winner – he’ll win at any cost.
    > My progress (if it can be called that) has been going from crying for days in the office bathroom to a heavily practiced indifference.

    …………………………

    + Situation 2:
    : Closest to the “Be right vs Get it done” example Ramit is talking about
    : He/She = Good / smart person; Willing to pay & prides him/her-self for it; Usually respectful; Sketchy / delusional sense of execution
    : My intended outcome = Grow the relationship for the long term; Establish mutual respect
    : Method:
    • To the 8 different people who came to me separately with the unique idea of starting the next Facebook … I just stated the obvious … vastly overestimating my coding skills wasn’t going to make them rich … short & sweet.
    • The others actually want to do something useful – they just don’t know how. If we did work together, it would feel like two kids huddling up to solve a puzzle *together* … it would be fun & i would totally enjoy their company. However, right now, they aren’t ready to work with.
    • I say something like “I see the potential with this, but i think there are a more few angles to consider. How about me sending you a some ideas over the next few weekends … it will help you crystallize things & get better results”
    • Then I send them those “angles” on sundays (my slotted time) over 4+ weeks
    • Results – good, either they become the ideal client or they spread positive word about me.

    …………………………

    + Situation 3:
    • He/She = Has the makings of my ideal audience in the niche industry i’m working towards; Genuinely cannot pay; Usually thankful & respectful
    • My intended outcome = Protect my time (priority 1); Be helpful to the genuine ones (priority 2)
    • Method = I put them on a list. I don’t have a website right now, but I do have a simple newsletter that I send out to a small group of people.
    • Result = Mixed. Doesn’t get me immediate clients, but lets me build trust & get the word out.
    …………………………

    I have an elaborate flow-chart in place on navigating different situations (those 6-sigma processes left a mark!). But these are my typical interactions.

    Not sure if there are any persuasion patterns here. I usually take on the responsibility of communication. But would love hear how you guys would be more effective in these situations.

    Thank you for reading my comment.

    • Uh… forgot to add why I used these 6 examples… I wanted to demonstrate that there usually is more nuance at play than we initially recognize. Those nuances (in my examples) have been:

      - Position ( theirs vs mine)
      - Perception (theirs vs mine)
      - My awareness of the two

      I’d wager there were such nuances at play in Ramit’s example as well. Eventually our success / respect increases when we learn to create win-wins despite the frustrating situations.

      Without such a break down we’d always be stuck in the realm of “Should have / Would have / Could have” or simply keep passing the blame.

      With the breakdown we have specific data points that put us back in charge of the situation… now we know what works & what needs work … words, style, gestures, tonality etc.

  333. I would probably reply with something like “That’s rich coming from you.” because I have a bad habit of needing to get the last word.

    Honestly though, that is a pretty powerful sentence, hard to argue with. I have used similar ones to silence arguments before, maybe not quite as well put. Sure it might piss you off, but you can’t argue with it.. because it is universally true. Arguing or being right should never outweigh getting things done.

  334. You are absolutely right in your reaction… in hindsight I’ve acted that way myself many times in similar situations. In this case it wasn’t exactly your project so I feel that you were justified in flying of the handle on him, however unprofessional it may be. You can’t always be the type A person that always does everything his/herself.
    In other cases where I may have micromanaged I have been described as “overly pushy but well intentioned.” Is there a happy medium – I’d like to think so. After working on a few more projects with different people I’ve learned that communication is critical, defining expectations from the beginning, and understanding what the objectives are really helps to limit these situations. I’ve also learned that proactive is better then reactive.

  335. I want to hear more, but from this exchange, the part that keeps me wanting to help, is that it would help “my team”. If it helps me and my team, my belief is that it will come back around in the end. Meaning he will be more willing to help me in the future–establishing relationship/trust benefiting both of us. There is much to be said for supporting co-workers. If I can help someone out who I believe in and respect, I absolutely will. Alliance is important. This person also took accountability when they admitted to flaking/dropping the line. A lecture doesn’t help get people going, it freezes them. Or, it freezes me. I can admit to messing up, then I want to move on and get it done, especially if it’s mutually beneficial.

  336. Since I offered to help, and since I would have benefited from helping the co worker, I would at the very least check with him in case he doesn’t look for me. Meet half way since helping him would be good for my team. A 1 min call or email is all that’s needed to make this happen.

  337. I’m not sure if, given the same situation, I would react the same way as Ramit did. But here’s why I think he was justified to “explode” at this guy:

    In a Dream Job video titled “The 7 biggest mistakes keeping you from your dream job”, released a couple of years ago, Ramit warns us not to delegate our job searches to our resumes, online submission forms, etc. And that if you do, and don’t get a response, blame yourself and not the company you applied to.

    I see some parallels between that advice and the situation described above:
    - the guy didn’t get ultra-specific about what he was working on
    - he didn’t get ultra-specific about how the project benefited Ramit’s team
    - he didn’t get inside Ramit’s head and offers zero value, so didn’t give Ramit a reason to care about him

    So, to paraphrase Ramit, what made this guy think he deserved to get answered?

    To expand on this a little, take a hypothetical situation where a busy guy like Ramit gets approached by three people in one day: two submit generic requests like the one above, but one gets specific and pitches: “Ramit, I’m working on a project that when finished will help your guys get 10% more sales leads per month. But before I can I need 30 mins of your time to help me fix…XYZ. Would 3pm work for you?”

    So which person is Ramit going to remember? The person who offered the value. The person who got inside Ramit’s head and thought to himself: Ramit’s a busy man who fears having his time wasted, so I’ve got to make him understand why 30 mins is nothing compared to him growing his sales figures and earning him a big fat bonus at the end of the year.

    Again, to paraphrase Ramit, this guy front loaded the work. He stood head and shoulders above everyone else because he had done 80% of the work before he even spoke to the guy he wanted the meeting with.

  338. This merely depends on how good your relationship is with that person. Is it someone who you go out with on Friday evening for drinks or someone who you just say “hi, how are you?” but I will try to give a few universal answers.

    Let’s give him a name. Tom. I would go to Tom and say:

    Ramit: Tom, when you asked for my help I agreed. It took some time to change my tomorrow’s schedule. I had to make some calls. When you came to see me that day I saw it in your eyes that this new project is very important to you so I agreed to do it with you the next day. The next day when you didn’t come to me I felt bad about it. It affected me and some of the other people who I had to meet and talk to during that time. This is not acceptable and not fair to other people.
    [you never become angry and blame him, you put ALL pressure on him to make him understand how it feels when he does that. people always like to help other people so when you say "This is not acceptable and not fair to other people" he agrees with you unconsciously].

    Other strategy is not to talk about this at all. If he comes and talks to you about it you “play” indifferent. You can’t force something to be created when the energy and the universe is not helping it.

    Tom: Ramit, I want to talk to you about this project …. bla bla bla
    Ramit: Tom, it seems that this project is not important to you because you didn’t tell me that you will cancel the meeting. bla bla bla. If you really want this done I need to know if you really want to do this NOW. My time is valuable and I think you believe your time is valuable too therefore let’s commit something that we can keep. Tell me when you are ready.
    [this strategy is also very effective. it shows that you don't take this lightly and if you want your help he need to earn it now]

    probably there are 3-5 more I can think of but this should be enough for now. Use this strategies if you find it helpful.

  339. Good marketing reaches out to people who can’t ask for help and almost forces them to take action – for their own benefit.

    You might be the best or have the best product or be right about something but if you don’t show up on the doorstep with it and help the person who needs help and maybe isn’t confident or organised enough to ask for that help then you are only right in your own head – what good is that to anybody?

    If your mission is to get the job done or to help people be able to do that job then you have to show up and help them get it done whether they are able to ask for help or not.

    I think this experience influenced Ramit to show up everywhere he can to help people with their finances.

  340. He/she’s right. Delivering the project is what counts. If shit hits the fan I will get my share. Nobody will split hairs on why and how…
    I’am not even concerned about revenge. It’s not my job to teach a lesson. There is more important stuff to be fixed on my side…

  341. Maybe I like being right too much, but I’d throw in a reassuringly toned “It’s OK that you forgot to find me because you were busy, we all make mistakes. We can still fix this”.

    If you offer forgiveness for their fuck-up, give them an excuse, and don’t do it in a defensive manner, it flips the script. Most importantly, ending with “we can still fix this” establishes helpful intent and use of the first person plural (we) puts it in a frame of cooperation. Even someone that is intuitively a dick is not going to want to get combative in response because they’d have to give up a lot of social proof (for lack of a better term).

  342. My response, ” Let’s get our project finished. When is a good time for you? I have time on Tuesday afternoon or Thursday morning.” Set the appointment, keep it and if necessary send a reminder to include some aspect of information you both will need to complete the work.

  343. Isn’t this guy just Wally from Dilbert? It seems like he’s professionally avoiding work. I’d avoid him like the plague. Once you actually track him down to “help him,” he’s going to get you to do all the work and then steal all the credit. Don’t be fooled by pleasant-sounding saying like, “Let’s not worry about who gets the credit as long as the work gets done!” That only makes sense when everyone actually wants to get the work done. This guy doesn’t – he wants to exist in a world where everyone else does the work. He’s trying to sucker you into pursuing him because it makes him look busy.

    People who fall for this sort of nonsense get walked all over by guys like this. They look for easy marks. The longer you wait, the worse it gets for him because he’s not actually doing anything. Let him stew and once he’s desperate for someone to do the work, don’t let him fool you into it. Trust me, I work for the government, where there are more work avoiders than anywhere else. It’s dangerous to be an effective worker who can’t defend himself.

  344. My first reaction would be that this team lead is a slacker, but with time to reflect on this scenario it made me think of something I read (Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, Stephen Covey), in order to get what you want you have to help others get what they want. Ego will easily rear its ugly head and cause persons to think of themselves first and how people should only do right by them, but that is not how a top performer will act. In this case the good of the team would have benefited as well as Ramit if he takes initiative and plans the time to meet and gets things done. The statement the team lead makes saying that Ramit was technically right was a way to psychologically force a choice to be made. I think it generally said hey do you want to be right in your own mind or set your ego aside and share your top performer ability.

  345. My Response:

    “I agree, sometimes it is necessary to go above and beyond to get things done.

    I think you’ll agree that both of us want to get this done – and neither of us has gone above or beyond.

    So let’s change that and get this done so that [benefit X for colleague].

    [silence] “

    • [after acknowledgement]

      Let’s set an appointment to get this done. How is tomorrow 9am or Thursday afternoon?

      [then send email appointment to block out time & schedule a boomerang reminder for the morning of]

      Great. See you then!

  346. What are you expected to do? We all have our own projects to get done. It’s his project and his responsibility. Are we expected to just take over other people’s project and forget our own work. It’s not about just forget who is right and just do it. If it was really important to the other person, he would have found Ramit the next day or at least some sort of other communication if he wasn’t able to meet….at least to say “hey, I can’t meet with you, but what i was looking for was……” There’s lots of things that benefit all of us directly and indirectly….we don’t have time to put our hand/time into everything. That’s just my unprofessional take.

  347. I come from an environment that has a norm of not replying emails, or giving confirmation messages.

    Taking this lesson into mind and the 7 habits, I try to be proactive enough to plan things out and get replies from clients/partners/co-workers. It may be a little bit more work from my end, but i believe in working for the common goal and putting in more deposits in the “favor bank” as it does paint a more positive impression of me, and people tend to remember me for it.

    Confronting a co-worker about the issue on the next day won’t help as much as it would as a day was wasted for both of us. In my opinion, i would’ve contact my co-worker and ask if he had time to meet up, grab a bite or a drink, and discuss things out.

  348. Every person is pretty much missing the forrest for the trees.

    This is about the behaviour/action gap.

    Basically, people are emotional creatures. They say they want to do something, behave in a particular way, but they are lazy/emotional creatures. A lot of the time even though they might say they want one thing, their emotions get in the way and they end up doing something else.

    Their actions don’t match their behaviours. That’s the kind of the point of behavioural psychology as well, trying to understand those nuances.

    The point that Ramit is trying to make here is that people are like that. They aren’t logical creatures. They are emotional creatures.

    Whatever “actions” you do take, they come down to recognising that fact.

    Basically, if you want to get shit done, you have to learn the persuasive skills to get people to get things done. You can’t just rely on people’s inner motivation.

    Bottom line, you have to learn to motivate people to help you get stuff done.

    This was Ramit’s mistake. For leaving it up to him. This isn’t about the other person, this is a lesson for everyone else to learn.

    If you want to get stuff done with other people, you have to learn to persuade them and learn persuasive skills. That’s why “managers” and “CEO’s” get the big dollars.

  349. I think the lesson here is most people will either not follow up when they say they will, or will look for ways to turn the tables and blame you for their inaction. Especially when the situation is ambiguous, open ended, or can be viewed as a who-needs-this-more contest. As much as we like to think we can, no one leaves their ego at the door. Humans are complicated, there are a million psychological quirks that stand in the way. Try to bypass as many as you can.

    So if you/Ramit find your self in a situation where there may be value in working with this person, stack the deck so that they get more motivated to seek you out, make it simple for them to respond/commit, but make them commit/ invest a bit to follow through. You need to build your systems and hone your habits so that you can:
    1. Make them feel better about them selves for contacting you,
    “wow, that’s an interesting idea…”
    2. Increase the persons desire to work with you “I just learned something else that might also help…”
    3. Make the next interaction something they will look forward to “you re going to love seeing how this works…”
    4. Make sure they won’t take you for granted and get them to commit “tomorrow is really tight but this sounds important. Can I call you/ stop by at 8:30am?”
    5. If they bail, don’t waste your time, but leave the door open (or invite yourself over) : “I know you were busy/ the timing didn’t work out, but I have a question you might be able to help me with…”

  350. If I need anything, I make the effort to fill that need.

  351. Interesting to me is the fact he offered you competing insights. If you want someone to get something done, you have to go above and beyond – which he did not do. He’s also implying that his schedule is busier, more important than yours. That irks the hell out of me when people do that. It’s like cutting in line. Minor offense with huge implications that they can just assume they’re more important, busier, whatever, than everyone behind them.
    Anyway, then he mentions his cop-out cliché – from his perspective anyway. He’s trying just as hard to be right in the situation, but he’s still focusing on putting his responsibilities into your hands. And that’s where he drops his psychological nuke on you, because I bet that comment was effective as hell for someone like you. You HATE debating minutiae, and care so passionately about getting results. So, of course you were right! (and for all the other commenters siding with the co-worker, he even ADMITTED as much!) But how much time do you waste beating him up over that. You got a small win in his humility/ability to admit that, so you can help him save face by dropping it there, and you can both benefit by moving past it and crushing out the project.

    It’s interesting that you chose to leave the scenario so vague. I wonder how the comments would have changed if we knew any of the following for sure, without assuming:
    your co-worker is a peer, or equal in terms of position or authority
    he is equally a top performer, and not constantly seeking you or others to bail him out
    he does not have the habit of blowing off anyone, much less a top performer, the way he did with you
    specifically, how did this benefit your team?
    could you have stood to avoid helping him given any of the above hypotheticals?

    In any event, I’m excited for your follow-up on this one! Have a great week Ramit!

  352. Ramit -

    If personal relationships have taught me anything, it is never about who is ‘right’.

    If you want an outcome, you must reach to go get it.

  353. I would say,”Lets nail a time down right now then…” And grab my schedule on my phone, and agree on a time that day. Id arrange to come to him only because he seems to be flakey, whereas I am not. When I show up, I would force him to focus with a no nonsense attitude & complete this project.

  354. It really depends who is affected. If it was my business, then yes, I would take a bit more initiative and set up a time and if the person did not show up or was late, call up the person to find out what happened (after 10 min of wait). If I was an outsider and the person wanted my help, I would set up a time on my calendar, but not necessarily follow up with the person. It is not a matter of ego – just a matter of priority.

  355. It really depends who is affected. If it was my business, then yes, I would take a bit more initiative and set up a time and if the person did not show up or was late, call up the person to find out what happened (after 10 min of wait). If I was an outsider and the person wanted my help, I would set up a time on my calendar, but not necessarily follow up with the person. It is not a matter of ego – just a matter of priority.

  356. Technically, he is right, too. The problem is that neither of you are getting what you want.

    If I were on top of my game, I would reply by saying, “we can talk about who is in the wrong, or we can get this done.” Tell him that we both need to work on this problem right now and then get started on it.

    You could discuss with him later about how you make agreements. You told him that “he should find you if he needs help.” So, you concluded that if he doesn’t find you, he doesn’t need your help, and that is how you interpreted it. If he doesn’t see it that way, i.e. if he believed that you were going to help no matter what, then admit that you saw the agreement differently. Acknowledge that his point of view is valid. Then, decide how, in the future, the two of you will avoid this same misunderstanding.

  357. I seem to follow the philosophy: When the student is ready the master will appear. Personally I would show the respect and courtesy and arrive at the designated time. Being right has nothing to do with ethics nor leadership. Not many people understand the meaning about Dragon or the tiger in Kung Fu, In short, it is possible for the tiger to defeat the dragon, but in most cases the dragon wins because the master (the dragon) applies wisdom and humbles himself by not killing the tiger unless absolutely necessary. Unlike the student (the tger) he lacks what the dragon has and won’t hesitate to maim, destroy and kill his opponent. The student must understand and demonstrate this before the rank of Dragon. Anyone seeking help, must honor the request of what is being said otherwise there will be two tigers instead of one.

  358. If this is a startup and you have equity in the company, just do what’s right for the company. Even at many successful startups, the majority of employees are irresponsible, and have to be dragged to get things done (I’ve been at and worked with enough startups to see this).

    If it’s a large company, and it’s not a great benefit to you personally, I wouldn’t go out of my way for the guy. Save your time and energy to help someone else more deserving, who is driven and has more potential. Let darwinism kick in for the lazy guy who feels entitled to support. He’ll just have a smaller network and be left behind on the career path. He got his warning, and you can spend your time helping someone else.

    Then it’s not about being right vs getting things done. Depending on the circumstances, it’s the same thing.

  359. I would quit if I’ve asked a boss for help, didn’t got the help but just an angry boss thats shouting at me and saying it’s my fault.
    A good leader should just have said: ‘I’m available at this time, lets discuss it then’.
    A bad leader is well… a bad leader that’s shouting at his/hers employeers.

  360. The important thing is that if a co- worker asked for help him self should follow to find the person whom he is looking for. sometime the manager will be busy but if he said i can help you that mean he is helping you if you find him.

    Hamayon

  361. Well, I have no assistants, but I do rely on the collaboration of many other colleagues in other departments for getting the data I need for completing my assignments, and often, they are really busy with their own tight deadlines. And I know from experience that some of them ever miss any opportunity to sleep on my requests.

    One of my way of getting my demands through is to walk to them and ask them, politely, about my need, and why I want it (everyone needs to fit in the bigger picture), and how (very important, else you get raw data that needs a hell of time of processing). And I conclude by asking when I can get the data – and before the answer comes, I always say with a reassuring smile and tone “It’s not urgent, don’t worry…!”
    And settle on a date and time on which they must have delivered the thing that I need. And also, I make it a must to check personally in progress twice before the deadline, generally after 50% and then 75% or 90% of the time has elapsed.
    So far, I’ve been able to manage with them. Only once, one guy was dead sick and could not, really not. On that one occasion, I had to admit that we are all humans, and need to be flexible enough to accept an irreversible situation, even when we thought we were in control. We are never in total, absolute control.

    Concerning the guy who answered back about being right or getting things done, I’d say:

    “Well, if you’re ok with being right to make up for that one, why don’t we trash this one out NOW, shall we?”

    In this way, I take on board that I could have been uncaring about his own schedules, I acknowledge that he still needs my input, and also avert a useless bout of negativity affect what’s most important: getting that job done so that we can do other important things.

  362. Some information is missing. Like the reason he didn’t find you. And if you made yourself avaliable or avoiding him.

    Maybe he sould put more efford on finding you. Maybe you sould be easier to find.

  363. Wow, that was a very powerful response he gave. It would’ve stopped me in my tracks also in puzzlement. This is really a touch one to manage. I’m not gonna even lie.

    I also agree with some posters that some info is missing as to give bit more clarity to this.

  364. I was puzzled by BOTH of you. Why didn’t you initially set up an actual appointment at a time that worked for both of you? Why would you want him to “find” you, and interrupt whatever you might be engaged in at the time? And why would he ask you for help and then complain that you didn’t “go above and beyond” to give him the help that he wanted? The whole incident doesn’t make any sense to me. I am irritated by anything that impedes work, so I guess I have “tin ear” when it comes to office politics. As to what my response would be, I would probably say something along the lines of, “Obviously we miscommunicated. When do you want to get together and move this project forward?” =D

  365. Sarah Williams Link to this comment

    It really depends on how important it is to me that it get done, and how tight my schedule is.

    When I’m asked for help I try to indicate when I’ll be available, and if the project isn’t important to me I leave it at that.

    If it is important to me I’ll try to schedule a time to do the help. Ideally I actually prefer to work alone, so if I can get a specific thing needed I’ll just do it, and send it to them on my timeline unless they let me know when they need it.

    I wouldn’t bother with getting upset with them for not taking advantage of my help, but I might drop the priority of helping them on future projects if they fail to follow up.

  366. It amazes me how much ego drives teamwork on the job. Half of the respondents are co-workers I dream of working with. The other half are nightmares to productivity. No one is perfect in all endeavors and we all screw up sometime on something. Roll up your sleeves, become the better person and get the job done. Realizing one is fallible is the best remedy to getting the job done as a team. What goes around will eventually come around is an adage that keeps me humble in the workplace and everywhere else.

  367. I deal with this regularly and the course of action I take and would have done so in this example is to tell him that I of course would help. But, considering how busy I usually am, I would undoubtedly overlook it tomorrow and therefore would have him wait with me while I finished what I was doing at the moment. Then we would go take care of it and get it on track. I have found that putting things off get forgotten and scheduling a time doesn’t work for me as my workload does not come in pieces to be able to take appointments. There is too many people that need help “now” so I take them all one at a time, first come, first served so to speak. Very informative information from all the other posts. Thank you

  368. I think your anger was justified. I affirm you. What was the “unexpected twist of persuasion” that you use to this day?

  369. Hi Ramit,

    That is a classic workplace scenario.

    If I found myself at the end of that story, I would have done what was required to finish the project. If possible, I would try to leverage my now overdue help into some tangible recognition on the final product, or a pledge for quid pro quo in the future.

    However, it would have been better to predict the power struggle. Ideally, the project gets done with and you emerge a leader with Lead Guy perceiving you as the most valuable person in the office.

    If the guy wasn’t able to get the project done, and with no specific plan to meet, what were the chances he would come and “find you”? I feel you may have walked into a power struggle that could have been avoided. Also, in terms of roles, by agreeing to help the guy, you’ve already conceded the project was mutually beneficial. It’s likely the Lead guy perceives you as an assistant, not a valuable expert who is doing him a favour.

    So, if Lead guy asks me for help, and I determine it is in my best interests to help him, I would come up with a plan that will actually work. Instead of a general “find me”, I would nail down a time for us to me. If I know he will not come to me, I would suggest neutral ground, or wait for him to suggest I come to his desk. Finding a source of urgency can be helpful. For example, “Tomorrow I have several meetings. I am available from 8:00 – 9:00am”. Suggesting first thing in the morning is always a good tester of how full of bull a person is.

    Using my superior planning and execution strategies (spoken in superhero voice) I regularly propel dead weight along to success with me. If everyone can “save face”, I come out on top and typically the next time they work with me they bring their best forward, fight me less and essentially defer to my judgement. Because everyone wants to be a winner!

    Thanks for the opportunity to articulate these ideas!

    Tara

  370. I never help coworkers. Why? Because they do not really want help. They usually just want someone to complain to and someone to do their work for them.

    Projects are rarely beneficial, necessary, and/or urgent. Things can always be put off or eliminated with creative thinking and a penchant for doing as much work with as little effort as possible. There is no need to work hard these days. There is no payoff.

    The best thing to do in these situations is nothing. You will be more satisfied with yourself.

  371. Mauricio Sadicoff Link to this comment

    I know it’s been a few days since this was posted, but I only got to this now.

    This is one of the classic work scenarios, happens often, and I’m very surprised nobody mentioned the “Who’s got the monkey?” article. It’s probably called something like “on the care and feeding of monkeys” or something like that. It’s a classic Harvard Business Review article, written more than 40 years ago, that talks about how, at work, everyone has their own monkeys on their backs that they need to take care of. And most people like the coworker are trying to put their monkeys on other people’s back.

    The project lead had the monkey. The moment he asks for help, he’s trying to send the monkey to Ramit’s back. By accepting, Ramit takes some of the responsibility, but not all. The responsibility to get something done is still with the project lead.

    Now, about the “technically correct” statement… that’s some high level guilt tripping douchebaggery he’s trying to pull there. He’s trying to say that by accepting to help, Ramit took on the whole monkey and it’s now Ramit’s problem. The same argument could have been used as a reply: “technically, you’re also correct, but it was your responsibility to get this done, and I had my own responsibilities that would get behind if I worked on your problem. So you have to make a choice between doing your own job and getting this done, or stopping me from doing my own. Plus, all the time w spent discussing this would have probably been used better by getting the work done, wouldn’t you think?”

    In other words, Ramit had to reset the problem ownership.

  372. Hi Ramith,
    It is more/less standard working situation. Usually I follow this way:
    • I call first time
    • I send email
    • I call second time
    Then I forget about it – I do 3 trials to offer my support and if there is zero reaction, I do not see this matter as urgent and important. And there is Eisenhower matrix – the things, which are not urgent and important are rubbish and can be scrapped.
    Petr

  373. It depends a lot on context.

    Scenario 1) The co-worker is an honest hard-working person who doesn’t give a shit about “looking good” and gets things done. This causes him to be flooded with projects and work from the lazy moocher co-workers:

    In this scenario I would do it for him, and schedule a meeting to line him up with the results. It is good to help shiny people get more shiny.

    Scenario 2) The co-worker is a character from a Dilbert strip, lazy, negative, unskilled, unethical and manipulative. He tries to look busy and worried all the time, so that the pros will pity him and do his work out of charity.

    in this scenario, I would first want to punch the idiot on the face, but then would take a deep breath and ponder the relevance of the project. If it really benefits more people, my team included, I would do it, and would make sure the lazy ass would be by my side so that I can teach the bastard by force how to do the work he’s supposed to. Now if the task is something he should really do by himself, I would say a blunt “no, I`m too busy for this, I’m sure you can handle”. And let the moron face the consequences of his lazyness and hopefully grow up from it.

  374. Keep it simple. “Come find me” is a poor tactic, greatly increasing the likelihood of failure. Everybody helps everybody by making an appointment so it will get done for sure.

  375. This answer assumes the request is genuine and not an attempt to get you to do the work for him.

    The project would benefit you and your team.You knew you could help it succeed. You needed to set a time to meet with him and get the job done. In this case your need to be acknowledged as the Guru, by having him “find you”, blinded you to the group’s best outcome. At the same time, by asking him to “find you” you are making a power statement that your time is more valuable than his.

    The opportunity for practicing “enlightened self-interest” was missed.