Hey Man, I Need a Solid…

DW Dalrymple

DW is a Proud West Virginian from the top of the middle finger, a former political hack/public servant and alleged rock-n-roll savant. Forever a student of the School of Life. You can find him on Twitter @BIG_DWD

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12 Responses

  1. fillyjonk says:

    There are really two issues here: first, interruptions, and second, sometimes you get asked unreasonable requests.

    I don’t deal *particularly well* with either.

    Interruptions are bad because these days it’s hard enough to get into the flow of working for me; having the phone ring, especially if it’s a “nothing” call (at home I have to get up and look at the caller ID if it’s my landline – and it usually is; very few people have my cell phone, and it’s set to announce who the caller is if they’re in my contacts). At work, I can’t see the number of who is calling. I have hung up on the scammy breast-cancer charity that calls regularly; I have lied and told textbook company reps that I am on my way to class and cannot listen to their sales pitch.

    (My students mostly e-mail me, which is more welcome, because I can respond at my leisure)

    The bigger issue is the asks. One of the most useful things I ever read online was an essay about “Ask” vs. “Guess” culture. Now, in some circles, people think of “guess culture” people as passive-aggressive and the like. (We really are not).

    Guess culture people don’t ask for something unless they are reasonably sure of hearing a yes. Some guess culture people (me) often go around with wants or even needs unfulfilled because we’re afraid our requests are unreasonable or put other people out. Also many of us are people who were “taught” in our past that getting our needs or wants met was unreasonable, so we just stop asking.

    Ask culture people ask, figuring there’s a good chance they’ll hear “no,” but “It never hurts to ask, right?”

    The problem is, when you get a mismatch of types. Ask with Ask, they both understand that it’s OK to ask and also OK to say no. Guess with Guess, there’s a lot of careful reading of subtle signs to judge if it’s OK to ask.

    A Guess with an Ask? The Guess will be reticent to ask for things, and the Ask will wonder why they don’t, and if the Guess finally blows up about the Ask person’s “insensitivity,” that’s how Guess culture people get the reputation of being passive-aggressive.

    But an Ask with a Guess? Holy heck. I walk around a lot of the time low-level outraged because of the stuff people think it’s okay to ask me:

    – “Can you drop everything you were planning on doing and do this thing for me with less than 12 hours notice” like I don’t even have too many things to do ALREADY

    – “Can I retake the test I just took? I wasn’t really in my best form….” What? Just, what? Mulligans on exams aren’t a thing. If you’re genuinely sick, call in sick, arrange for a make-up

    – “Can I come in to see you in your office at 6 pm, none of your [10 a week] office hours work for me” Six pm? Really? When I’ve been here since seven am, and usually five pm actually means 6:20 or 6:30 because “traffic was bad” or something else…

    And when I say “no” and give a long justification of why I can’t – because I also have a history of people who were unwilling to accept a simple “No, I can’t do that” without me proving that I have good reason – they look at me and go “Eh, it never hurts to ask”

    I want to say “sometimes it SHOULD” but I know I’d get called on the carpet for that.

    And yes, I often feel like I am asked/expected to do many things for many people, but if I need one small thing? It’s like pulling teeth to get it.Report

  2. DensityDuck says:

    One of the things I try to do, when asking for something to be done, is to put a time frame on it. I try to do this because it lets the person understand whether it’s something I really do need right now, something that I need soon, or something they can just tack on their whiteboard and get to it when I ask again two weeks later.

    And I also try to use email. I do recognize that not everyone prioritizes communications, but I do also figure that email’s easier to ignore when received and read later; you can “turn off” email in a way that you can’t do with the telephone or IM, or with in-person communications. (really, I try to avoid in-person communications at work unless it’s very important or something where the rapid response rate of in-person communication is useful.)Report

  3. Ozzzy! says:

    It’s always a good time for DFW at Kenyon.

    I try to remember this is water. Sometimes it works.


    • David Ryan in reply to Ozzzy! says:

      Yesterday I ran, so far as I can remember, my longer continue run — 7.31 miles according to my watch. I knew I was going to go for a longer-ish run, so I chose for my sound track Audioslave’s eponymous album, which is one of my favorites, but I’ve had a hard time listening to since Chris Cornell’s suicide, let alone listening to it for motivation. I thought I might write about it, so I think I will.Report

  4. Damon says:

    I get asked for help a lot, or to prioritize their stuff they want me to do over something else. You go to the top of the list when I get as good as I give. There’s a woman in bd I’d drop everything for because I know she’ll do the same. All others can wait.Report

  5. atomickristin says:

    I have just had over a month of sheer heck because of this very issue. Great piece DW!Report