The Risks of Doing Professional Favors
The value of learning to say, "no"
Professionals who do favors know it’s nice to do one—but also know that it’s not always smart. The smartest also know when it is or isn’t smart to do one. To stay smart or become smarter, you should ask yourself the following questions before granting a candidate, colleague, employer, applicant or client any given request for a favor—especially repeat favors:
- Will doing the favor mean it is likely to be seen as a precedent for repeat requests? This can easily happen. Having broken the ice with the request, the beneficiary may regard it as the “new normal," e.g., borrowing money from you or asking you to come in on weekends, as though a precedent in common law has just been established.
If the precedent-based phenomenon is the one governing the beneficiary’s psychology and calculations, the way to handle the request is to make it clear that the favor was a “one-off”—a special favor, with no binding force as a precedent.
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