A friend of mine has been dealing with a friend who is constantly asking favors. This woman isn’t going through a particularly hard time or in need of special support; she’s simply one of those people who thinks nothing of asking everyone to drop what they’re doing and help her out. When people “let her down” and can’t help, she expresses her disappointment and tells others that they “screwed her over.”
My friend finally had to put her foot down last week. She was working on a big deadline, and had a big trip planned that she needed to prepare for, but the friend still insisted that she needed help on one of her own work projects. My friend wasn’t opposed to helping if she could, but simply had too much on her own plate to do so. She tried dropping hints that she wasn’t sure when she’d be free because of her own heavy workload, but the woman didn’t pick up on it. Finally, she had to say, “I’d love to help, but this isn’t a good time for me.” Helping out would have meant putting her own work on the backburner. It was like asking a pal to help you move on their birthday weekend.
There are two lessons here. Be honest with yourself and consider whether or not you are taking advantage of people’s kindness. Do you really need help? Can you do the task on your own or find other alternatives? If someone expresses reluctance, do you keep pushing them, or do you move on and find a better solution?
If you are the person who is constantly dealing with a favor-greedy friend, ask yourself if you are enabling this person. Are you too eager to commit to helping out, then regret it later? Be realistic about your own ability to help, and be firm when you turn something down. If the person is upset because you have a legitimate excuse like a work deadline, lack of funds, or illness, so be it. You can’t please everyone.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t perform favors for friends—of course not. But if someone is taking advantage, you need to take a different tack.