Wednesday 12 October 2011

Double-Edged Sword of Kindness

Have you ever sat and watched an email chain go on in front of you.  You see it quickly gathering steam, getting longer and more convoluted with each "Reply to All".  You sit there knowing that one response from you and the problem would be resolved, but you hesitate.  You resist the urge to be helpful knowing it is the right thing to do.  There are two likely reasons to not respond.

  1. You are an arse.  While this is technically possible and entirely feasible, I have found that "most" people are generally not spiteful just for the sake of being spiteful.
  2. You have been previously cut by the Double-Edged Sword of Kindness.
Those of you that have been sliced by this nasty beast know what I'm talking about.  It comes in many forms:
  • It is the innocent tech help that you give a friend.  
  • It is the short email you decide to jump in on and help
  • It is the familiar phone number that comes up on the call display at 2 minutes to quitting time
Regardless of the method this nastiness chooses to present itself to you the outcome is always the same.  You provide what you see as a quick bit of assistance to a person in need and you become their default action in the future.

Even if you try to take the teach a man to fish approach and show the person how they can resolve their own issue, the only part they seem to remember is that you are the person that knows how to fix it.  The most frustrating part about this to me is that even though you started out with good intentions you end up being an ass because you eventually have to tell people to do their own work.

I'm not sure the moral of this.  It's not like anyone is going to tell you not to help people, especially since that should be the primary role of eye-tee.  Just beware that this monster is out there and don't let it get you too many times.


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