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weeveeship's avatar

How to be nice without being taken advantage of?

Asked by weeveeship (4387 points ) September 8th, 2010

I think it’s good to be nice to people. However, there are people out there that take advantage of those who are nice. Some e.g.:

1. (School setting) Guy comes up to you to ask you a question about a homework problem. You answer. From that point on, the guy comes to you whenever he has a question about homework. You want to help but:
—>A) You are busy yourself and don’t want to be constantly peppered with questions AND
—>B) You wonder if he is just slacking off and relying on you (esp. if the guy has a rep for slacking) AND
—>C) The guy does not invite you to anything fun, ever. He just comes to you when he needs something

2. (Group project) Group of four or five. Three are slackers. They expect you and possibly the remaining guy to do the work because they think you are “smart.” You can:
—>A) Do everything while the slackers chit-chat OR
—>B) Try to work things out with the slackers, who would not budge OR
—>C) Not do the work and everyone in the group fails

So, how can someone be nice and not be taken advantage of?

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22 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I believe that learning an interesting little word helps a lot: no. It comes in very handy during those times when you’re busy with your own work and can’t stop to help someone else. One of the great things about this little word is that you don’t have to say it exactly to get the meaning across. You can change it and soften it by saying something to the effect of helping when you’re not busy doing your own homework. If pressed, you can then revert to the simple little word itself: no.

It works in those group situations, too. “No, I won’t do all the work for the group.”

Try it. It might work for you.

weeveeship's avatar

^Tried saying no but…

1st Example: The guy then tells everyone that you are a jerk. People then think you’re not very nice.

2nd Example: You can tell them no but the work must be done somehow. They will just say “We don’t care” and in truth, if they are slackers, they really don’t care. Talking to the teacher might not help as the teacher could say that he/she is not really in the business of arbitrating “minor disputes” (actual experience)

Ben_Dover's avatar

So what if the guy says you are a jerk. Your friends know better. and the guy is obviously himself a jerk, so anyone paying attention to him are losers whom you don’t need anyway.

Sometimes you will find in life that you have to do most of the work when you are teamed up with slackers. So do the work and don’t play ball with the slackers next time.

It is very easy to be nice and not get taken advantage of. just be nice and don’t let anyone take advantage of you.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The answer to the first question is to give him the wrong answer a few times, and he will stop asking you.

As for the second problem with group work, the purpose of the assignment is not only the project outcome but to learn to work together as a team. If you’re always working with the same group, you could choose a different group the next time. If you end up as the group leader, assign parts of the project to people. Don’t enable the A. Don’t lead the project in the group. Whatever idea they come up with, go along with. As long as you enable the A grade, you will be stuck doing all the work. Divide up the project, and do your part. When it comes time to present, have everyone go up and present their part. If they have nothing, then they have nothing to present. You present your part. Take the F.

As for this guy saying you’re a jerk, so what. If he can say that about you, he doesn’t like you in the first place. What’s he saying? “She won’t let me cheat off her?” That only matters to other slacker.

Does your school have an advanced placement program? If you’re not in it, you should talk to the counselor about getting placed in it. Even if it’s on a part time or probationary status. It would mean more work, and harder work, but it will pay off in the long run.

Scooby's avatar

Just learn to say NO! :-/ it’s all ya need…......

Pandora's avatar

In the first question, I would offer to tutor them. I had a few people in class that I would help out. Only I told them I would help them out when I was available. I would never give them the answer straight out. I would make them figure out the answer and would comfirm it after they proved that they could figure it out. I found it made them feel more confident and in time they wouldn’t need my help.
As for group settings, it can be difficult. I would try to seperate all the parts of it and give equal amounts of work to each individual. If they needed help then I would assist. If they refused to participate then I would go to the teacher and request to be allowed a seperate grade if I had to do the majority of the work alone. Often I would tell the group that it was what I was going to do if they insisted on doing nothing. I found by warning them they would begin to attempt some work. I would usually put it to them this way. I have not worked hard to get a poor grade because of others and since I’m not getting a pay check from them, I do not work for free either.
Since I am female it may have worked in my favor. Guys don’t usually like being out done by girls.
Its easier to help people if 1. You make them feel valuable and able.
2.You make it clear that your number one priority is yourself and you won’t compromise your principles.( I always pointed out that in the future none of them are going to support me so I see no point in wasting my time on people who aren’t willing to help me in some way.) Most people understand and respect quid pro quo.

nebule's avatar

I find posing questions to them helps…some might call it deflecting…but…. If someone asks you for help on a certain matter you can give them an outline of what you have done but force them to use their own intellect. e.g. How would you intuitively go about answering the question? What have you got so far? or point them in the direction of where you found the answers and help…. Tell them you are snowed under but offer to help them if you have time after…. I’ve done this before and it seems to work but also enables them to find an independence of their own and gratification in their own achievement. Offer to look over their finished product also… its shows you are interested and willing to help but not willing to do all the work for them. Good luck x

marinelife's avatar

There is being nice and then there is being a pushover. The latter is the problem here.

When there are people who take advantage, you can’t be nice. You must be firm.

In the first case, I would say to the guy, “Look, I helped you once, but I can’t help you all the time unless you pay me for tutoring.”

In the second case, I would say, “You guys have to do your part of the work or I am going to Mr,. Teacher and ask to have a group with just the other guy who is willing to work.”

CMaz's avatar

Be less nice. Till it works.

Cruiser's avatar

My son has this same issue at school and he has learned to adapt to this constant demand for his in class help. He just tells them…“gee I’d be glad to help you but I really need to finish up my own work…meet me after school and I can help you then”. Most of the slackers don’t want to put in the after hours work and he is off the hook! He also feels the need to be appreciated for his abilities and tells them that while he won’t do the work for them but will offer tips and suggestions on where to look for answers without having to do the work for them.

wundayatta's avatar

I think there is another distinction that may be helpful here. You seem to believe that being nice involves doing concrete things for other people. In other words, you have to buy a reputation.

I suggest that you consider being polite instead of nice. With your first guy, you can be very polite, and thank him for thinking of you, and tell him right now you are very busy, but you can help him out on such and such a day (the day after the assignment is due). You own your own time, and you can be polite in making that clear.

It sounds to me like he is bullying you if he is demanding that you help him (which he is doing when he tries to blackmail you). If you are being bullied, it doesn’t help your self esteem. It can be much harder to stand up for yourself.

He can try to badmouth you, but I think you have to trust that other people know your reputation, no matter what he says. And if they are the kind of people who believe him (and who would badmouth someone who helped them?) then they probably aren’t people you are interested in, anyway. Who cares what they think?

I’m sure this isn’t the only place you have this issue. Perhaps in your family or in other situations, people make you do the work simply because they know you are too afraid to say no. The more you do it, the less you think of yourself.

Well, it’s a good sign that you want to fight back. You can start to take back the parts of you that you have given away over the years. The first thing to understand is that you are worth it. The second is that a friend you have to buy is not a real friend. So if you lose those friends, you really haven’t lost anything. The guy hasn’t asked you out or anything. What a loser!

These same things apply in your group work. I really have nothing to add to what others have said. You’ve gotten some good advice there.

Seaminglysew's avatar

I agree with wundayatta. But I still have to be reminded that people can only take advantage of me, if I let them.

weeveeship's avatar

@wundayatta Good advice. I think it is important to know how to say no politely.

However, there is no real solution that I could think of for scenario B, which occurs fairly often. I could say “No, we all need to work on this together,” but there is really nothing I could do if the slackers just want to take an F. Not to mention that some people really do not want to be in school in the first place.

The only thing I can think of for scenario B would be to do the work and get an A as I want to do well in the class. But that sets a precedent that makes others go, “oh, goody, we have XYZ in our group and he’ll just do all the work for us.” It’s never ending.

Marva's avatar

It depends on your definition of “being nice”.
For instance, “being nice” does not mean: Doing things you don’t want to do, being pushed around or slaving yourself for anyone else.
While “being nice” to another person, you also have to be nice to yourself in the process.

My advice is to be very honest. True honesty always brings something out of people.
Simply saying: “I don’t mind answering some questions, but you want me to get the job done for you and I don’t want to do that”. You will see that when you are being very honest and direct, without being offensive, people will always respond in respect to you and accept what you say.

And as for “scenario B”, it is more difficult. Since your neck is on the line, I would suggest you first do the work as best you can. Since you can’t controll what others do, you can only accept it as your “destiny”. Try and think of it as a complement of your inteligence.

Having done do, you could also have the paper start off with (honesty again) “Dear mrs. teacher, I hand in this paper, I want you to know that I have done this assignment all by myself while my partners were reluctant to assist me in any way”.
If she doesn’t take it seriously the first time, she will on the third.
You could also try talking with someone higher up the chain, like the headmaster, or a guidance counselor, and let them know what is going on.

MissA's avatar

While they’re sitting there looking to you for an answer, ask them what their part is going to be?

If you let them copy your work straight up, your decision to do that is worse than their expectation that you will. I would think that you’re too intelligent to make that choice.

weeveeship's avatar

I never let anyone copy my work. The problem is though that people ask me to explain stuff to them on multiple occasions (not a one time thing).

It takes up a lot of time and sometimes the person still tells me that he does not get it.

One thing I have done in the past is to tell them to ask the teacher. Some do just that, but others just keep asking me questions.

Marva's avatar

I stick up to my earlier answer, but from your last response I get another newance:
Sharing : It seems that some students are trying to use you, but some others really need the help and are not trying to rely on you.

If you have a gift, sharing it is the best thing you can do with it. Enjoy being able to help others! giving freely and willingly are two of the best and most important traits in life.

If you find it is hurting your own intrests, you only need to channel it the right way, so it doesn’t. For example: announce a tutoring meeting, do it for free: “In this day and time I invite anyone with questions to be in this place, and I will try to assist the best I can”.
On that meeting, try and explain the subject and maybe give tools for further work, without doing the chore for them.

You will see that it will give you a great satiafaction and also will win you appreciation and friendship from the students who were in need of this help. They will be there for you when you need it, for example at the time when another student puts you down for not helping them out.

Having a gift and being able to help others with it is a great blessing!

MissA's avatar

@Marva Lurve to you…great answer.

weeveeship's avatar

@marva I agree with your post, but how could you tell who genuinely needs help and who is just trying to use you. This is given that sometimes, the same people keep coming back to you. And if I have already explained the concept to him/her, there is nothing really more I could do to help, IMHO.

But great answer, nonethless.

Marva's avatar

@weeveeship Usually, you would feel the diffrence real well between the one who is honestly in need of help, and the one who is just slacking up. It might be harder to set a criteria for who means what, but when you are being used, you know it. So avoid these one’s.
Two things will keep happening occasionally:
1 is that there will always be that one slacker who you didn’t notice and got some help out of you anyway. You are just going to have to live with that and remeber that whatever goes around comes around, so you will get yours for trusting in people and offering help, and he will get his for taking advantage. I find it really helps my peace of mind to remember this.

2 is that there will always be some students you won’t be able to help. Be it because they don’t understand the way you explain it, are not skillful enough for the materia, or what not. That’s ok too, you don’t have to work out all their problems, it’s enough that you tried: “Listen buddy, I tried my best to help you out, I see it isn’t working, why don’t you try and come up with another source, or way to deal with this now?”

Is that helpful? I hope it is, if it isn’t maybe I’m just not the right person to help, it is my third time answering you – are you trying to take advantage of me? ;)

weeveeship's avatar

Thanks for your advice. You have been very helpful. I just want to see what other Fluthers think about this.

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