Passive Agressive

National Blog Posting Month – January 2014 – Pressure

Prompt – Does pressure ever make you want to rebel and do the exact opposite of what is being asked of you?


There are moments, to be sure, when the pressures of life in whatever form, makes you want to turn away, cover your ears, and pretend like there’s nothing going on.

But ignoring a problem isn’t the same as responding in the exact opposite way than what is expected. I can’t say I’ve ever really done that, but no doubt I’ve thought of it.

“Oh, you’ll have those TPS reports… Right where you deserve them!”

The worst thing (OK, I’ve probably done worse, but this is what I’ve thought of) I ever did in a situation where I felt pressure to respond in a particular way and I didn’t want to is actually something I do on a regular basis.

That pressure is to respond immediately to any and all requests from those who have seniority over me. It’s expected that when the e-mail hits my inbox stating that I need to do this or that, I’ll get on it right away. And sometimes I do. Probably more often than not.

But I usually don’t reply to the requester immediately, and I certainly don’t tell them I’ll get whatever task they want done finished quickly.

There’s reason for this, and a lesson for everyone here. One thing I’ve learned (and I’ve learned this from both the perspective of the requester and the requested) is that if you respond quickly and in the way that’s expected, then you’ll spend the rest of your life being held to that standard. Most of the time, such a standard is difficult to achieve, and often unreasonable.

Alas, it takes only one time of responding with “How high?” to a request of “Jump” to ensure that you’ll be doing that forever.

So I draw the line. I don’t say, “How high?” Instead I wait for a moment – an hour or a day, depending on the request – and then say, “OK, I can do this, but I need a little time to do it right.” I do that every time, thus setting the standard for other people’s expectations of me:

“She’ll get it done, and done well, in the time she says she’ll do it. And don’t expect her to drop everything just for you.”

It keeps my work relationships under control and keeps the stress levels manageable.

I’ll clarify, there are crises that come along, and sometimes I do have to drop everything and change gears. No problem. The reality is, however, that most requests that come along aren’t crises. Most are mundane things that needn’t be rushed. So why should I?

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