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Small tasking part 2 - when they up the ante by posting it in the group chat

Bit of a tail on this thread: but a different situation.  Issue is the same - somebody who never does anything for you wants to task you and then push for you to jump to it.

In that thread Lucio shared (from PU) the techniques of:

  1. Talking up the value of the task (to increase your social credit in the 'favour bank')
  2. Saying yes and then making them wait

Now I'm wondering how to tweak for when they ask at a team meeting.  A lot of companies run very collaboratively now and meet daily or second daily.

This plays out 2 ways:

a)   They point out they're waiting on you  and its blocking them in their round the room update

b)   They drop the request in the chat as a follow - "Hey Transitioned can you make those webpages we talked about so I can...."

The issue with using technique 1 is that might come across as humble bragging in front of the group/or worse stonewalling as every group like that has some overworked manager or crazy workaholic techie.

The issue with using technique 2 is that they will just keep asking every day in the team chat.  And people will think why doesn't Transitioned do such a small thing.  Especially the less power aware folks won't stop to think why should a junior or peer set his priorities.

The other technique we discussed on another thread is the 'I have a few other priorities' but  that seems way overkill for small task requests.


There's a side issue of them being sneaky and sending you an email 5 minutes before the meeting and then saying "...following up on that email"

That's easily dealt with by saying 'Yes I did see an email come in this morning - haven't read it yet'.

Hey Transitioned,

Wondering if you can continue with that technique number two (say "yes" and then make them wait) and then if they ask again in the team chat, tell them you have a few other priorities and you'll get back to them when you're able to get to it (in other words, don't keep pressing me).

I don't know the context, but the way I see it, if it's truly a "small task request", then they can do it themself. And, if they're too busy to do it, then it's fair for you to also be too busy to do it since you're both equals (they're not your superior).

If they choose to message you in the group chat again anyway, you can let them know that you mentioned before you have some other priorities and that you'd reach out to them when you could take care of it. And, if they need it done sooner, they should consider asking someone else.

Feel free to let me know what you think mate.

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Lucio BuffalmanoTransitionedBel

Thanks Ali

I m looking at this one from the point of an individual contributor.  It is an interesting sitch.   The challenge is baked into the stand up meeting format. These meetings drive action at a micro level and treat any delay as a blocker to be removed.

Boss is always there

Boss won't care about who s on top just wants action

Which brings in the possibility that if you delay he will just say "Hey Jim can you make those webpages for Sally' which is not a good look for you.




Hi Transitioned,

I would first ask myself

if the  task which they ask you to do, is it something only you can do  or is it something they themselves could do? if it is something that only you can do, then you hold all the cards, if it is something they also can do, are they asking you because they are genuinely busy or is it purely a power move to look good in front of the boss? If it is a power move, you can surface it like this mostly:

"Hey Transitioned can you make those webpages we talked about so I can...."

I would clarify first by asking:

Me: It depends, I'm working on something now, I can't drop it, but I can quickly  tell you  how to do it.

Either they accept it or they push back, if they push back

They: I know how to do it, I wanted you to do it.

Me: I f you know how to do it, go ahead,  and let me know how it goes.

At this point if he still pushes back, you could accept the task, but make it seem like you are doing them a favor.

The steps here is to come up with genuine sounding excuses on why you can't do the task, once they  insist the task is important, you flip the table on them by telling if it is important they have to get the job done instead of wasting their time trying to task you.


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Lucio BuffalmanoTransitionedBel

Hi Maverick

Thanks for sharing your ideas - definitely a solid tactic.  The reason I was a bit hesitant going down that path was the danger of diluting roles and creating a free for all which is going to feed an opportunist like this lady.  We've discussed that before here

The risk is that you create a bigger monster by letting this lady become a one stop shop for the business people - she allocates you work and of course its all her getting her team to help so you become her invisible assistant.  She cherry picks and does the job herself to be 'action lady' and if it looks hard or risky it goes to you.   Its a real thing when you're working in staff teams who advise and help the business (which includes IT project teams).  Here's an example from Reddit.


Some quick thoughts.

I'd personally see the team chat as a possible root cause of issues and power moves.

Hence, dealing with it at grassroots level first:

  • If you can, don't be in the chat: unless the bosses and decision makers are there, you don't really have to be there either
  • Never enter the chat: it's a slippery slope, much easier never to get in. Say you're a "face to face" type of guy, or that chats are distracting for your work (if you make it about efficiency, it's always harder to be attacked)
  • In the chat, reply "sure, come by my desk and let's talk about it", then reply less and less until you're fully "analog"

How you handle it in the team meeting depends on the type of meeting you guys run and how much power/reputation you managed to gain

A good meeting host should see and block those power moves and invite the power mover to discuss that 1:1 -which also serves as a light punishment/shaming and to instruct everyone else to drop the games-.
But of course, that's a lot to ask.

You may have enough power (and their task is not high prio) you can do it yourself though:

Him: Hey Transitioned can you make those webpages we talked about so I can...
You: hey Max, I'll share my work priorities when it's my turn to speak (or: I shared my work priorities if you already spoke), but for sure, come talk to me about that right after this

Then pause.
If he speaks again, nod but do not speak.
On top of being higher power to let him expend effort while you only answer nonverbally, the sub-communication is: this team meeting is to talk about what we're working on, not for one-on-ones and power moves. We'll deal with each other later. Now let's keep it efficient and let's move with the next item/person.

If it's a high priority thing instead you can turn the power move back on them:

Him: Hey Transitioned can you make those webpages we talked about so I can...
You: hey Max, for sure, you should have told me before. Please let's talk about it right after this
Him: Yeah, I told you in the team chat
You: Ohhh (very emphatic here while you move your head upwards, as if to say "oooh, THERE, come on, don't be stupid") OK come tell to me in person please, the chat can get messy and it's too easy to miss things

Those are good ways to handle it for the type of team meetings I've been (and that were not meant to include one-on-ones unless very high-priority stuff).

You have to check whether it can work in your environment, but yeah, it might.

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Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks Lucio that is some pure gold right there and you saved me a day of pondering.

In our WFH world I might tweak to 'I'm a one to one - direct comms kind of guy'   But most orgs are back to 2 days a week so probably would make sense your way.

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Lucio Buffalmano

Cheers Kevin and thank you for the feedback, it's always super useful.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?