Manage an imposer at work

Out of the goodness of your heart, you helped out a co-worker with a problem or difficult project, and now the person comes to you all the time—even daily—asking for assistance. While you want to be a team player, you just don’t have the time to help your co-worker.

Some people are fine with imposing on your time, talent or good nature, and don’t see it as inconsiderate or rude. If you don’t put an end to the behavior, it may continue.

Here’s how to handle the tricky situation without hurting the work relationship:

The next time the person comes to you, be direct and confidently say: “I apologize, but I just don’t have the time to help you right now. I am backed up on my own work, and I need to focus.” Suggest that the person go to your supervisor for help or point him or her to a resource that might be useful.

Note: Don’t pawn the imposer off on another co-worker. Suggesting your supervisor is fine, because after all, it’s the boss’s job to coach employees, and odds are high that the employee won’t be so willing to impose on the boss.

Difficult People D

You might say “I’m sure Barbara can offer guidance” or “There’s a great tutorial in the employee training portal that will walk you through that.” Then, wish the person luck, and turn back to your work.

— Adapted from “4 Types of Difficult Co-Workers and How to Deal With Them Without Losing Your Mind,” Marguerite Ward, CNBC Make It,