To be considering changing my mind about helping someone after only one meeting?(121 Posts)
A friend of a friend runs a small business, and is horrendously busy. The three of us all went to a talk a while ago, which is how I know him. We had a great night, and got on very well. He mentioned that he was overwhelmed with work, so I offered to help; research etc, I can do from home. He's not paying me.
So I went along for a meeting with him today, to go over what he needs me to do. I got there and he was really stressed with his accountant. He said, "He's just so disorganised, and rubbish at staying in contact. I think he must have a mental health condition or something." I replied, "Does he just not keep you up to date?". He said, "No, he is just generally crap. I think he must have a mental health condition, and you can't work with people like that. They just don't get it."
So, I said, "Well, actually I have a mental health condition." He looked at me sharply, and said, "We might not get on in that case." I told him I had Borderline Personality Disorder, and explained loosely what that meant. His phone then rang.
Then we started talking over what he needed me to do. Quite a lot more than I was expecting! He talked about a company he had contacted; "The first question they asked me was "are you disabled?". I mean, what is the fucking relevance of that? Some do-gooder set on ticking a box. Would they have helped me if I didn't have any legs?". I bristled again at this, seeing as I walk with a stick, but replied calmly, "I think especially with the current cuts that are going on, people have to give it an appearance of not being a vendetta against disabled people." He retorted, "It's not a vendetta. People have just got used to living outside of their means, and spending too much money, when they don't have it. Everyone can't be a charity case. We're economically fucked."
I don't really know what to do. I feel like I should just carry on and help him, because I said I would. But at the same time, I don't want to either start helping out and then be having to listen to this on a regular basis, or be helping for the wrong reason, ie, an attempt to change his mindset instead of because I want to help.
Currently have a battle between wanting to prove him wrong and wanting to protect myself going on in my head.
Would it be unreasonable to type up what we discussed today, and do what I said I would do before I am due to see him next (Friday), but then say "I'm sorry, but because of your views, I don't feel it will be suitable for us to work together"?
I'm really surprised he came out with this.
Please don't demean yourself further by working for this ignoramous!
Well that was my other thought, Pure! I've heard of being able to do that though, so thank you for that, I will have a look around.
Okay, so I am not unreasonable to say no to helping. Now - how do I go about it? Do I tell him why it isn't going to work, or just leave it short and snappy? Bearing in mind that it will get back to my friend (who I will give the heads up that it hasn't worked out).
Don't work for free for this person's business, they are one individual and it sounds like they are not very nice, and there won't be an organization around them (e.g. with HR) that can help you. Just say 'I don't think it's going to work out' to him before next week. If he's been horrid to you, your text/email saying this won't be unexpected.
Then, if you have a bit of spare energy and want to work, find a properly structured volunteer agency/charity and do some work for then, work you will enjoy (perhaps with more contact with nicer people such as older people).
This man is not very nice to you and that's all you need to know to move on.
I think Pure's email is excellent. Don't engage him in discussion of why you don't want to do it, just state you don't and send the email. I would do this straight away.
By the way, I would feel very ambivalent indeed about getting someone to do research for me for free (sometimes my students offer and I say no). The fact that he said yes and wasn't even nice to you (or others) says a lot about him.
YANBU. I see he's happy to use free-labour in order to manage his business but then has the audacity to complain about people living outside their means.
Irony must be lost on him.
Pure's email is perfect.
Do not waste a single minute in free work for this man. Who gives a fuck if he's unhappy?
As for work you can do -- why not do something for yourself? Set up a blog or write an e-book and sell it on Amazon. What do you like to research? Have a look on MN -- what kinds of things are people continually confused by? Maybe you could write a short e-book and in that way help loads of people.
Just seen your email suggestion Pure, thank you (again). I will type up the to do list, and attach it to an email saying that, I think.
I'm glad I wasn't just being precious, I wasn't sure.
If you have made a firm commitment to complete one piece of work then I would do that. You can then hold your head up and say you have behaved completely professionally and honoured your commitments (and chalk this up to a learning experience so that in future you say no earlier).
Send in with the work a brief note saying:
"After further consideration of the work you have offered me, I have concluded that it is not something that I will find rewarding, and that I would prefer to volunteer my time to other causes. I hope that you will soon find someone to offer you suitable assistance in your projects."
I disagree, I don't think you need to complete any work at all. This was not really a professional commitment, it was a favour for an acquaintance.
It was not a professional commitment, and it was hardly a professional meeting.
SirBoob should not feel obliged to do any work. In fact if she does, she will be more involved, and put herself at risk of being on the receiving end of the same kind of abuse she has seen this man capable of...
He sounds like a wanker. In your shoes I would withdraw my offer to help him out immediately.
The commitment I had made for Friday was to type up a 'to do' list and make a start on the research. Have just started on the To Do list, and will finish it before this evening. That way I will have helped him somewhat, by helping get organised with things, so won't feel any more guilty that I already do.
I'd tell him to sod off tbh. You don't deserve to deal with that shit.
Sounds like a good plan. Do not feel guilty.You do not need to explain.You offered him something of value which he did not treat with respect or courtesy.He would damage your health.There are LOTS of charities who would understand your restrictions and value your input.And value you as a person.You don't need this-honest.Good luck.
Have just found out that my operation is scheduled for six weeks time... Reckon I can cite that as a reason? I feel like I am going to be simply reinforcing his idea of people with mental health problems for quitting before I'm even off the starting block.
I think you'd be doing him and anyone else who happens to be unfortunate enough to end up working with him a huge favour by telling him exactly why you won't be working for him. But really you don't owe him any explanation if that's what you prefer. Fwiw my friends husband asked me to do some admin work for him on a casual basis and pays me £40 for a couple of hours work.
We like you, my darling and we want to protect you from a not very nice boss.
Give him the Spanish archer:
How does this sound?
Please find attached the formalized notes from today.
I'm sorry to say that after a lot of thinking today, I do not think it would be beneficial for me to continue helping. After hearing your views on mental health this morning, I do not think it wise to make any more progress than this professionally.
The notes have deliberately been left open for anyone to become involved, and I wish you every luck for the future.
Okay am about to send email, feeling rather anxious now, as know he is going to be pissed off, he hates people letting him down.
Am going to send what I typed above.
Thank you for encouragement, all.
Will be interesting to hear if/what he replies
Make sure he doesn't bully you. You are worth more and he is an intolerant bully.
Thanks ladies. I'm really anxious now, and avoiding my emails for the foreseeable future. But I think I've done the right thing for me.
He hates people letting him down? I'm not surprised he has plenty of experience of this happening. He sounds like an absolute arse. Rude, bigoted, self-opinionated, exploitative. I hope you start the to-do list with "gob in Mr Fuckwit's tea before you take it to him".
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