I'll be your... secretary.
June 15, 2013 12:28 PM Subscribe
I've noticed lately that a lot of my work day involves colleagues asking me to help them with things. Finding them a new apartment, helping them deal with parking tickets, making telephone calls to get them free stuff (using our professional network). I am sort of a secretary... but I am not their secretary, if you get what I mean. How do I deflect the sense that these are appropriate for my role?
posted by kettleoffish to Work & Money (40 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I am the lowest person of technical ran" in our office, but I also feel like sometimes, these requests verge on bullying, especially when the person starts holding a grudge that I didn't use my work or free time to help them. There is a lot of girl on girl, "why aren't you being helpful" implications behind this. I don't know if you know what I mean, but there's a sort of sense when I say no like, "why aren't you being cooperative?" I am typically not invited socially to hang out with these people, but I am invited over and over into their lives, to help. Our office is very much busy, but can verge on informal. It's mostly everybody who tends to assume that because I'm in a service role, I'm there to help. I'm not.
I don't know if I'm allowed to say no, so if my boss is standing there or might overhear, I usually say yes. I figure he would set these limits for me if this was not expected. I get that secretaries can do this stuff sometimes for their offices, so I'll do it-- there's enough tension and conflict for me in my role that it's just easier. I also don't want to piss off my colleagues. But basically I get nothing in return, and I have had colleagues get angry or irate at me if I say no, or if they feel I'm not getting their stuff for them in time.
We also share phone calls and emails, and I get contacted on weekends sometimes.
I'm bewildered, but I think it's just that some people don't have boundaries. How do I navigate this situation? Is this a common issue for a secretary, one who doesn't cozy up to people, but is rather perceived as "useful" or "helpful" on the sidelines. I can't help but noticing I can't win. If I try hard, I just reinforce the demands. If I say no, I have the potential to seriously go against my cliquish colleagues. What do I do? Suck it up?