No: “I’m sorry, I don’t have capacity for that on top of my workload. …”
Yes: “… but let’s ask around and see how we can shift things to help you out.”
That’s not your responsibility, of course, but it lets you be helpful without martyring yourself.
And make no mistake: The request was unreasonable (a common hazard for those with a reputation for being competent and helpful); the promise was deceitful; and throwing you under the boss was vindictive. But her acts could have been born of desperation and fear. Not an excuse — just another angle.
For damage control, ask to meet privately with the boss. Remind him or her about times you’ve gone the extra mile for others. Then, explain what happened in this case, leaving out “offended” and “balked” and “insisted.” Say you regret not involving the team to try to find a solution. Stay neutral, and you may come out ahead.
Reader: I am on a project that has me stuck with the worst officemate: a very intense woman with no regard for anyone else. I’ve basically been told I’m “taking one for the team” by sitting with her. I’m willing to put up with her intense personality. However, I am at my wits’ end with one thing: She chews ice. All. The. Time. I can hear it through my noise-canceling headphones. The constant chomping and slurping is making me a nervous nut job. Is it out of line to ask her to stop?
Karla: Of course, you can kindly ask her to stop. It helps if you’ve been a gracious officemate yourself. Just don’t be surprised if, true to form, she ignores the request. In which case, I absolutely cannot advocate sabotaging the office icemaker.
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Karla Miller lives with her family in South Riding, Va. For 16 years, she has written for and edited tax publications. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.