Can you do me a favor?

Have you ever heard this before at work? Can you do me a favor? As I was leaving a work place one day, I overheard a gentleman on the phone talking to what certainly sounded like a co-worker. Upon termination of the call he was tetchy. He started with, “nothing is too difficult for the person who does not have to do it” and things did not improve with the progression of words emanating from him afterwards. A request came to him as – “can you do me a favor”? This struck me as weird – favors, at least in my perspective, are not accompanied by a hard and immediate deadline. My friends ask me to help them move, for example, I will make all effort to help them, and even do what I can to adjust to their schedule but largely since it is a favor there are some constraints.

That led me to thinking, how many times do we use such a euphemism or equivalent in our communications? We have shown other more egregious communications faux pas in our blog post Organization and Commitment and some other postings. What about this communications issue? Are we really asking for a favor? It seems more like a command or at the very least a demand. Perhaps we should call it what it is, and perchance this direct approach will reduce the sense of vexation with the request. Something akin to “I need you to do for me and now. Thank you for getting this done on such short notice”!

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