It is understandable when you turn down requests of favors from friends and acquaintances. Almost all of us have at some point had to say no to a friend who incessantly asks for "small" favors.
However, what if you are at the receiving end of an unwanted favor? What if there's a colleague who keeps offering to drive you home or do a task for you and you can't say no?
Bear in mind, these offers come even when you are perfectly capable to do the task yourself.
People who tend to offer unwanted favors make you feel patronized, invade your privacy and fundamentally disrespect boundaries. They are also manipulative in nature.
The worst part is you realize very late that there is an unwritten code you unwittingly signed up for and now you might need to reciprocate the favor. The favor asked of you is often too huge and unfair on you.
To avoid falling in this pit, learn to say no to favors unless you absolutely, definitely, and undoubtedly need it. In 1964, The Gazette ran an interesting editorial on Unwanted Favors. Here are a few real examples of how the people of 1964 said no to unwanted favors. Also, there are takeaways for you.
Carl Sandburg, reputed Chicago Daily News writer, was scouring the library for information for his latest biography. The librarian, a closet writer herself, didn't recognize Sandburg and offered to help him out and make his writing 'readable'. Sandburg chose the easy way out, he started avoiding the librarian on his next library visits.
1. Create a distance between "them" and "you"
Avoid overly helpful and patronizing friends and colleagues by putting as much distance between them and you as possible.
If they are persistent, tell them clearly that you are not comfortable with their generous offers of help or better yet, tell them you are more competent than they think you are.
2. Don't give an excuse
"Thank you, I would take it but..."
This makes the person feel that you need the favor but are hesitant and so they will go all out in persuading you to accept their favor.
Simply say, "No thanks, I can manage."
When the Duke of Wellington was ill, an unknown person sent him a box of remedies. The Duke wrote, "I have received your letter and the boxes of salves etc... This will be returned to you in the coach on Monday .. I cannot make use of Salves sent me by a Gentleman however respectable of who I know nothing...:
3. Draw a line at unwanted gifts or 'tangible' favors
Patronizing people are also magnanimous at times. Traditionally, gifts are ways of showing appreciation, interest or gratefulness.
But off-late, giving gifts is considered ego-centric as scientists and behavioral psychologists are finding that people like giving gifts more than receiving them. Make sure you don't accept them unless you want to be caught in a vicious cycle.
Learn how to tactfully stem out these issues early on, or you could end up like this person.