FWP: When A Friend Makes a Request, then Ghosts
PROBLEM…S: I have less of a problem and more a series of problems, all the same: Lately, many people have been asking me to do a favour for them. Which I am happy to do, but when I ask for the info I need to do these favours, these friends/colleagues/family members ghost for a few weeks, then resurface asking why I’ve not done the favours. Isn’t it their fault I haven’t been able to do what they’ve asked?
SB: It’s totally their fault if you ask me. No follow-through after asking you to do a favour means no completion on your end. How is that not just a basic rule in life? Although, if this is happening in a few areas, maybe a subtle initial phrasing change on your end could help: “If you get me [x], I would be happy to help by completing [y]. Once you send it, I will begin.” Then it does’t feel like a jerk move when you don’t get it done.
KB: Totally their fault! But the bigger issue here is not whether it’s your friend’s fault or not, the question is why s/he is so completely and utterly oblivious to that fact. Is your friend a narcissist? Sounds like it!
MM: I think you need to dig deeper into the genesis of this pattern. Have all your friends suddenly become co-dependent, so much so that they can’t do anything themselves? (Including the thing they need to do for you to help them with the actual thing?) Or have you, the ultimate selfless friend who always gently reminds people to send you that document so you can look over it or a picture of their saree so you can suggest a blouse, suddenly decided that you don’t want to be taken for granted anymore?
If it’s the former, I suggest you quit your job and escape to the Himalayas and make new friends. If it’s the latter, I applaud your commitment to self-preservation. Send out a firm email introducing your friends to the new human you’ve become and avoid all social engagement for three months.
LG: To play devil’s advocate, a favour is, by definition (somewhere), an act of going out of the way to help someone. People typically don’t ask a favour that’s easy. I’m not saying it’s not polite to make it as convenient as possible on the person of whom a favour has been requested (it absolutely is), but it’s also a little unreasonable to expect the requester to set it up so you can complete the favour from the comfort of your 800-thread-count bed.
So, use this filter: (1) Do you care about seeing the favour-requester ever again? If so, put in some effort at follow-up; they’re probably struggling, and that’s why they’ve asked for help. And (2) How much is being asked? Unless you’re already halfway up K2, as MM suggests, you cannot move mountains, and it’s better to admit that right away.