my coworker wants me to do all the work he sends me ASAP, even when I have higher priorities

A reader writes:

I’m a project manager at a nonprofit. We’re desperately understaffed, so I am wearing many hats right now, including in the general operations area. Most of the things I work on have deadlines and are necessary for us to function as a healthy organization and to support our mission.

“Ned” heads a committee that is working on a project that is important but not urgent. The project has benchmarks but the benchmarks do not have deadlines. Because of my knowledge set, I am working closely with Ned on this project. He and I have continually identified work for me to do, but come into mild conflict over when it should get done.

A few months ago, I told him I would not be able to edit a report for him until two weeks hence. He wrote back asking, “But what if you did it sooner?” I asked my manager for help and she wrote an email explaining that I was working on projects that needed to take precedence, and that while our many committees do important work, they cannot all have staff time at once. His reply showed that he might not understand where this project stands in the big picture.

Flash forward to now. I need to compile some information for the project, but it is a MAJOR time of year in terms of other projects that affect the entire organization, all of which have quickly approaching deadlines. So of course I get an email today from Ned asking about that data that 1) he knows is on my radar because we talked about it last week and 2) does not have a deadline for being compiled.

I have asked him about the urgency, and he has said that he just likes to get things done right away or in advance. It’s his way of doing things. Mine too, except I am drinking from a firehose and I have to be realistic about what takes priority.

Ned almost always references how busy I am and how much I have to do and how do I manage it all? But in the same email or conversation he will give me more work or pressure me to complete work he knows I’ve had to back burner.

Ned and I will be working closely together in our roles for at least the next two years, and he is earnest, but I could use some help breaking this pattern, or at least possibly a script to use.

“But what if you did it sooner?” is almost masterful in its douchery.

The first thing to do is to talk to your manager and get aligned about how you’ll handle Ned. It sounds like she has your back, but it’s important to talk it through with her explicitly so that she’s not surprised if Ned complains and so she doesn’t inadvertently undermine the way you’re going to handle him. You want to come out of this conversation with an agreement about how you’ll prioritize your work and what you’ll say to Ned when he’s pushing for his work to take priority over more time-sensitive needs.

From there, assuming your manager agrees:

* When Ned sends you a project, reply back giving him a sense of when he can expect it. That might be, “I’m busy with high-priority work for the X team all month, but I’ll plan to start on this next month and will come back to you then with a more accurate ETA.” Or it might be, “I’ll work on this as time allows, but I’m heavily booked for the next few weeks so I don’t expect to have anything to you until the week of the 18th at the earliest.” And so forth.

* If Ned pushes back on that — whether it’s “but what if you did it sooner?” or “I just like to get things done in advance” or anything else — you should say, “I’m booked with time-sensitive work that has to take priority. I’ll update you once I’m able to start on this.”

* If he continues to push, direct him to your manager: “Jane and I agreed on these priorities together, but if you want to make a case for your work taking priority, you should talk with her directly.”

If you’re consistent about handling Ned this way, it’s likely that he’ll eventually get the message and back off a bit. And if he doesn’t, you’ve still got a plan in place for dealing with him. But at that point, it might also make sense for you or your manager to have a bigger picture conversation with him to address the pattern, along the lines of: “I do work for many people and have to allot time based on the relative urgency and priority of each project. If you ever have an urgent deadline, let me know that, but otherwise I need to prioritize your work around other assignments.” You might add, “When we spend time going back and forth about timelines so often, it doesn’t change the result and takes up time that we could be spending keeping work moving forward.”

Ultimately, though, even if Ned doesn’t change anything on his side, I think you’ll be less aggravated by him if you have a plan in place for handling it consistently every time and know your manager will back you up.

{ 272 comments… read them below }

  1. Dust Bunny*

    “But what if you did it sooner?”

    “But what if you did it yourself, Ned.”

    If Ned likes to get stuff done in advance, he can start rearranging his own tasks to accomplish that.

    1. Construction chick*

      100% agree. My response to something similar being said to me has been how about it I don’t do it at all?

    2. TeemieBopper*

      It sounds like the letter writer works in data and report compiling, and as someone who is the point person in their organization for data requests, I’m having second hand anxiety over the idea of giving someone who doesn’t know how to use the tools access to them in order to get the data himself. Honestly, LW would probably spend more time trying to show Ned how to use the tools than just running interference and eventually getting around to doing it themselves.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Then Ned can sit down and wait his work’s turn. Or take it to his own bosses and see if they can help, or if they tell him to wait it out like everyone else has to.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          This! OP should not be running herself ragged trying to squeeze in his last minute requests when she’s already told him she’s booked and busy just so he won’t keep badgering her – don’t reward this kind of bad behavior. He can wait like everybody else.

      2. Rain's Small Hands*

        Assuming Ned is competent at his job, eventually he would learn out how to write a SQL query. It isn’t hard. A few example queries of the type he usually asks for might be enough to get him going.

        As someone who used to have constant requests for data, then learned how to get simple queries done myself, it will save both the LW and Ned time if Ned learns how to fish rather than saying “hey, I’m going to go hungry in a month, get your pole in the water.”

        Also, as an aside to the LW, make sure that you aren’t gatekeeping the data – if there is a good reason you need to be the one getting the data and writing the reports (databases that are fragile if poorly formed queries are run against them, for instance), that’s one thing. If its a protectionist move, that’s another.

        1. bratschegirl*

          I could be wrong but I don’t think Ned is a fellow employee. I think he’s a member of the nonprofit’s board of directors. I’m basing this on OP’s language “while our many committees do important work, they cannot all have staff time at once” and that tells me that Ned is not staff. Which makes things difficult, because the board is both OP’s boss and the manager’s boss, and usually board members are significant donors.

          1. I'm just here for the cats!*

            See I took that to mean that there are different committees within the org (training committee, marketing committee, etc) that are comprised of members of the organization, perhaps that have specific roles. “They cannot all have staff time all at once” I thought OP meant administrative staff.

            I think if Ned was part of the board of directors OP would have said that and not called him a coworker.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              The headline says “coworker” so, yeah, I assumed he was on a team/committee assigned to a specific project.

          2. Lozi*

            I noticed that line, too. I would if he could potentially be a key volunteer or constituent … If he was on the board, you’d think he would understand organizational priorities. It’s tricky if he’s not a paid employee because there isn’t the same hierarchy of how to have the conversation, and you also need these people and want to keep them mostly happy. But I would think that the LW would have explained that if it was the case, so who knows!

      3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        There may also be limitations on who can have access to the raw data, depending on who you work for and what the data is – ie, if Ned is requesting data from a statewide longitudinal data study, he may not be approved to deal with the data in its raw, non-anonymized form.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          At one place I worked someone was removed from access after using very carefully selected data pulls to get the answers they wanted just one time too many. The big boss also had the ability to pull data – and it didn’t match what the other pull was saying.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      It’s amazing how obnoxious a single phrase can be. I don’t even know this guy and it sent my blood pressure through the roof. What if you go F yourself, Ned?

        1. MEH Squared*

          Ditto. Followed quickly by, “But what if I don’t, Ned?” said with as much scathing sarcasm as possible.

        2. GammaGirl1908*

          Right??!! I rolled my eyes so hard at that I lost one under the couch. What a complete [glassbowl].

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        They’re colleagues. He’s not the boss of OP and needs to back TF off. Or perhaps he wants to take some of the high-priority work off OP’s plate.

        OP didn’t mention their gender, but my spidey sense tells me to consider whether OP presents as female and there is a gender dynamic at play.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          Even if he was OP’s boss or senior to OP in some way, it’s still a rude way to speak to someone. I’d expect my boss to reply and say “actually I need this to take priority over the X project, so please start on this instead.” Not “aCkShUaLlY how about sooner.” Ugh, OP’s situation really frustrated me.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        That is an incredibly obnoxious framing.

        Just from that one Ned quote, I’m now picturing him looking exactly like JP from Bad Sisters (an excellent but very dark comedy) Who is one of the nastiest, most selfish, most obnoxious characters in television history who says and does some really awful stuff while pretending to be ‘normal’.

        I’ve never punched anyone in the face in my life. But I now want to punch Ned in the face on LW’s behalf.

        1. Omskivar*

          Ned brings to mind my favorite German word, which is Backpfeifengesicht. It translates to “a punchable/slappable face” or, my preferred phrasing, “a face that’s just begging to have a fist put in it.”

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Oh, God, that guy. I remember on Jezebel the posts about him were hilarious! “And he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.”

        2. JBI*

          That show is excellent… although, as we would say in Ireland, there’s a fierce amount of swearing in it…

      3. Rain's Small Hands*

        It made me laugh and think about my dog looking at me with sad, starving eyes and saying “but what IF it was for puppies?”

      4. Ellis Bell*

        I had an email last week complaining about a hard to arrange meeting from one of the attendees I’d invited. This was after multiple attempts to coordinate calendars and loads of higher ups reminding us of the urgency of needing to get together on this topic. So it was a bit jarring to hear someone just complain about the arrangements they’d made no effort to help with; with no reason given for why it was an issue, other than “it disrupts the flow of my day” and was then I was asked to “just do it another time”. It was the latter phrasing which was hard to respond to politely, because the word “no” is all you’ve got really.

      5. I&I*

        I feel the strong urge to give a literal answer. ‘Well, Ned, if I did it sooner then Projects X, Y and Z would get bumped down the road. We’d miss the funding application for Project X and lose $X, Big Conference Y would take place with no speakers from our company, and we’d have a 70% chance of losing License Z. Do you think you can cover all these losses, or would you rather wait your turn?’

      6. Curmudgeon in California*


        The logical answer to “But what if you did it sooner?” is “Then a lot of high priority work would not be done on time.” delivered with a “Well duh” type inflection.

        But yeah, my gut reaction would be “GFY, Ned, GFY.”

      7. Coffee Bean*

        Yeah – I kind of felt like confronting him and saying “Drop dead, Ned. What if I didn’t do it sooner.”

      8. Artemesia*

        This is the kind of douche who has learned that being aggressive and obnoxious gets him what he wants. The OP needs to get her own boss under control on this so jerko doesn’t end run her and get his things ahead of the queue. lots of managers would rather throw you under the bus than deal with unpleasant pushy people like this guy.

      9. whingedrinking*

        “What if it rained donuts on Tuesday and I could pull your request out of my ass while farting rainbows? Oh, sorry, are we not playing the pointless stupid hypothetical questions game?”

    4. TootsNYC*

      I’d be so tempted to start replying, “But what if you took my word for it?”
      or “But what if you tried to be patient?”

    5. Rage*

      Or “But what if you did it sooner?”

      Me: “Then [important project X that will either make or break our funding for the year] won’t get done. Then you won’t need it sooner because you’ll be out of a job.”

      OK, yeah, I’m snarky. But that’s literally where my brain went right now.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        That’s the best answer, IMO, but OP might be out of a job if they responded that way. Still, they would be my hero if they did.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Or “But what if you did it sooner?”

        Me: “You do realize that once you get me fired, I won’t be doing any work for you, ever, right?”

        I generally don’t have to go to that well more than twice or thrice with the same coworker.

      3. Snow Globe*

        Maybe it is a little too snarky, but it’s the truth. The answer to “what if you did it sooner?” is “then higher priority work won’t get done”.

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Yes, I don’t understand why you can’t say this? Maybe not the “out of a job” part, but could you take the question at face value and tell him what you’d have to delay in order to do his stuff?

          Giving Ned a *very broad* benefit of the doubt here, assume he’s genuinely asking a question that will lead to the answer of “if I did X, I would have to deprioritize Y and Z.” To be clear, he’s not OP’s boss, and absolutely doesn’t need or deserve that answer – but on the other hand, if it’ll get him off OP’s back, it might be worth it.

          Just once, though! He can accept the answer or not, but either way the answer doesn’t change. If he keeps pushing back, then it’s time to deploy “as I’ve said, it won’t be possible,” or refer him to your manager.

          1. Empress Matilda*

            As for “I prefer things to be done sooner,” I would flat-out ignore it. It’s not a question, therefore doesn’t need an answer! You could absolutely respond to that with “Okay, thanks – I’ll let you know.”

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              “I prefer lounging on a satin chaise being hand-fed chocolates by Chris Evans wearing his Puppy-matching sweater, Ned, but we all have to learn to live with disappointment.”

              1. Aerin*

                I have actually responded to agents who say “but the customer wants [thing that they have just been told is not possible]” with “I want a pony. Life is hard.” I would never say it directly to a customer but oh I have been tempted.

                1. smolbean*

                  I work in a hospital and I say the saaaame thing. We do our best, but sometimes someone just can’t be pleased.

        2. dustycrown*

          That answer is perfect, and not snarky at all, especially compared to the question.

          I’m thinking maybe some of the OP’s workload needs to be delegated to Ned.

      4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        A less snarky version could be very effective. (Or lean into the snark!). Mostly just cutting the second sentence of the reply. It’s not wrong to communicate very clearly that you are doing X, Y, and Z Extremely Important Things and you cannot bump them to do Ned’s stuff faster.

    6. duinath*

      yesssss. but what if you thought about other people, ned? what if you considered the organisation as a whole instead of following your own “preferences” off a cliff, ned???

      what then, ned?????

      1. Sasha*

        I’d be tempted to answer him like I’d answer my five year old.

        What if it was done sooner? What if wishes were fishes, Ned?

    7. Joielle*

      “What if we all got a million dollars and a puppy, Ned. Lots of things that would be nice to have around here.”

      1. Joielle*

        Honestly though, I would probably treat it as if he was joking. “Ha, yeah, what if?? No but seriously, I’ll let you know when I start on that.”

      2. pope suburban*

        I mean, I can’t swear that my first response to that line wouldn’t be genuine laughter. It’s just such a little-kid move on his part. Like, jeez, Ned, what if unicorns were real? What if we could eat candy for every meal? I mean…if wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets. It’s just so absurd, there’s a built-in tape delay before you realize exactly how rude it is too. Though the silver lining is that laughing like it’s a big joke is probably likely to really steam Ned’s vegetables, so as unfettered reactions go, there are worse ones.

      3. Pants*

        “Like coworkers who aren’t passive aggressive douche canoes, Ned. I’d like to have a coworker who isn’t a passive aggressive douche canoe. Maybe if I had one, he’d do the numbers himself.”

    8. OfficeGoth*

      This is where I’d be worrying about getting myself in trouble, because I’d answer him.
      “We’d lose $xxxx for missing my deadline/lose the account I’m working with/our insurance would lapse/our license won’t be renewed on time/whatever else is going on – if you’d like to explain to me and Jane why this is more important I’d love to hear it.”

    9. Nesprin*

      This also sounds like a great opportunity to throw the question upward.

      “But what if you did it sooner?”

      “You can talk to boss about whether you need this ASAP and what other work needs to be de-prioritized.”

    10. Heffalump*

      On a strictly logical level the response to “But what if you did it sooner?” is, “I’d have to bump higher-priority tasks.” But Ned should know that, and I’d be much blunter than that with him.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        I wouldn’t even respond honestly. In fact, when the Neds at my company try this nonsense with me after I’ve already told them to wait in the queue (I’m in comms and the sole person handling a specific type of comms request for my company), I just don’t even engage further. They’ll hear from me again when I initially told them I’d have time to consider their request *shrugs.*

    11. tangerineRose*

      “But what if you did it sooner?”

      “Some projects that actually have deadlines wouldn’t get done in time, and we’d have x issues.”

    12. Smurfette*

      Ugh, this guy sounds like such a jerk. He probably thinks he’s being funny and charming. He probably also winks at his female colleagues and compliments their appearance.

  2. Mephyle*

    “But what if you did it sooner?” has a simple and direct answer: “Then I would have to postpone the higher priority tasks/projects with urgent deadlines that I am working on, and they wouldn’t get done in time.” That’s what would happen if I did it sooner, and why I’m not doing it sooner.

    1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

      I like to respond to that kind of passive-aggressive comment with totally random responses.

      “But what if you did it sooner?” “but what if the aliens want popsicles?”

      “oh, I thought we were talking about impossible things”

      ….. I’m a bad example. :D

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I totally did that a few weeks ago, too. Glad to hear I’m in good company!

        CSR: “Client wants result by deadline.
        Me: “I want a Name of Mom & Pop Pizza stand by the home office 500 mi away pizza for dinner tonight.”
        CSR: “How did you know we were discussing food before we called you?”
        Me: “I didn’t. I thought we were discussing implausible fantasies.”

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Now that you’ve written that, I can hear it in her voice and it would so fit that character!

            1. DJ Abbott*

              I know I’m very late here but for future readers I want to say, be careful using the word hell. You might be talking to one of those people who will make a huge fuss and act like the world is ending because they’re so offended by the H word. *eyeroll*
              Maybe say “heck” or use a different example.

      2. SpaceySteph*

        *lower voice, lean in toward Ned, glance sideways conspiratorially*

        “But what if…. I didn’t.”

        *laugh forever*

    2. Weary cigarette drag*

      That would be the right answer if Ned had asked “but couldn’t you do it sooner?” or “why can’t you do it sooner?” The but-what-if construction is snotty and aggressive.

      1. Twix*

        I completely agree that that construction is intentionally obnoxious and jerkish, but sometimes the best way to handle people who weaponize subtext is to absolutely refuse to acknowledge that there is any. Many people will either stop asking loaded questions or start saying the quiet part out loud and make it clear who the problem is if you insist on taking them literally and responding with mild puzzlement at why they’re asking such odd questions and need such basic things explained to them.

        1. Despachito*

          I am all for this.

          “I am afraid this is not possible, Ned. I am able to start working at it next Thursday at the earliest. If you feel it is a greater priority go discuss this with Boss because it would mean postponing other projects I am working at. ” Completely ignore the part of his preferences. I am not a friend of ironic and/or sarcastic responses. It creates even more drama and there is always a risk that to a third party both of you will look equally unreasonable which is unjust because it was him who started it, but once you start fighting in the mud, you will both get dirty. Definitely say no but keep it professional – that way it would be clear that the jerk is him.

      2. Observer*

        The but-what-if construction is snotty and aggressive.

        Playing oblivious can be VERY powerful, though.

        OP, if you take this tack just CC your boss so that if he gets stupid and complains about it, they will already have the context.

    3. Trek*

      My response to these non-sequitur is always ‘If things were different they wouldn’t be the same.”
      I’d respond with either this or state ‘You are asking me to complete x assignment late so that you can have y assignment early. I doubt you would want me to be late on your project because someone else wanted me to complete their task early.’

    4. learnedthehardway*

      Oh no – he’d expect the OP to postpone that other work.

      I’d have replied that he would need to do it himself, because the priorities and workload I was dealing with preclude my participation until X date.

      1. MsSolo UK*

        Yes, the temptation is to be clear what would fall through the cracks, but you’d really have to pick an example he couldn’t argue with being lower priority, i.e. something that also affects him. “But then payroll won’t get processed” might have an impact, but “then we’ll miss the deadline on project X and be fined” won’t matter to him unless it’s coming out of his budget.

      2. ADHSquirrelWhat*

        see, I read it more as “what if you stayed late and worked unpaid overtime to deal with my issue” type “what if”.

        I could be reading into it. That said – that type of passive/aggressive comment just screams allll the layers of entitlement.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          … that type of passive/aggressive comment just screams allll the layers of entitlement.

          This. I would find Ned obnoxious and probably sexist too. I would tend to de-prioritize his stuff because he seldom has a real deadline, and I don’t prioritize my work based on how entitled twit likes to work. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

    5. ferrina*


      I’ve had to do this:
      Ned: “Great, so I’m thinking you can get started next week.”
      Me: “Oh? And which client project would you like me to postpone so I can work on this? I assume you’ll handle the conversation with the client about why their project won’t be completed by our promised delivery date.”

      (Ned worked in sales and was client-facing; I was back of the house delivery)

    6. Wilbur*

      If someone emailed me, “But what if you did it sooner?” I don’t think I would reply at all. After all, I’m busy.

    7. Alan Campbell*

      “But what if you did it sooner,” is incredibly ugh, but OP didn’t complain about that, and wrote “in two weeks hence.” I feel like there might be some amazing language at this job, I’m picturing an english manor in the 1890s

  3. Eldritch Office Worker*

    …Did I write this letter in my sleep? Sorry OP, I know how you feel.

    For something passive aggressive, like “but what if you did it sooner” I’d just flat out ignore it. If he’s bugging you in person, use Alison’s language. I’d even shorten it to “this is the timeline I can do right now” after the first time, since you might need to repeat it a lot. Definitely loop in your manager but just as an “FYI” in case it becomes an issue, but for the most part I think you can just ignore him.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I also had a second where I wondered if I wrote in. I have a handful of our project engineers that seem to think any little thing of theirs is ToP PriOriTy and that I will be able to respond in <15 seconds. Dude, I'm in a meeting, which you can clearly see on Teams, plus I can't even read that request in 15 seconds. Plus you didn't use the right form, you didn't include any of the necessary information…. you will be getting a rejection in 15 seconds if that's what you'd like. Follow the process, and do not dare to send me a second email, Teams message, Teams call, and call to my desk phone when you don't see a response in 60 seconds.

      I don't recommend it, but I did tell the most egregious one (who also pulled the bUt I'm SenIoR i aM mOrE ImpoRtanT) that I do not work for him, and he needs to follow the same process as everyone else does. Everyone has a fire to put out, his fire is not special. Professional? Not really, but he did get the point and started doing the process properly.

      It's very, very frustrating – and especially when you're constantly on fire and drinking from the firehose.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        ” Plus you didn’t use the right form, you didn’t include any of the necessary information…. you will be getting a rejection in 15 seconds if that’s what you’d like.”

        Ugh. I have been in a few jobs now where my charge is to create processes. Everyone says they want them, everyone sees the value, and then Ned thinks it’s a waste of time and he can ignore it. Grrrrrr.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          The processes I follow are ISO/regulatory too, so it’s not like I really can go “oh, sure, you are in particular special enough to ignore them, put in whatever equipment you want”. *facepalm*

          I have a little print in one of my desk drawers that has a mountain print with “Your lack of planning is not my emergency” and some days taking a breath and looking at that calm mountain scene gets me through a serious eye twitch.

          It did help a decent amount to put together a training presentation on what/why the process is and sit down the department heads with their main PMs to go through it. The vast majority are much easier to work with with a side benefit that they will get their approvals significantly faster than the ones that still refuse… and they are peer-pressuring a bit on the ones that try to make their own lives difficult by not including basic information.

          My personal favorite quote from a group meeting, in which Grump was grumping about the approval process and Good PM sassed back: “I don’t know what your problem is. My approvals are processed within a day, at max. If yours are taking so long, have you considered that *you* are problem? Do you think that EC should be sending the agencies a permit request for Any Equipment Grump wants? EC, can I be on the phone when you call them with that? I want to hear how long they laugh.”

      2. The Real Fran Fine*

        The engineers and product managers/directors at my company behave the same way, and I treat them the same way you treat your folks, lol.

    2. ferrina*

      “What if you did it sooner?”

      “Then I would be grateful that my requisition request for a Time Turner was approved.”

    3. Banana*


      I no longer work with my Ned but still get the heebie jeebies at this kind of work style.

      People like Ned rely on you reacting like you’re dealing with a reasonable person. Ned is not reasonable, so you need a different playbook.

      You can ignore Ned when he is trying to steamroll your priorities. Delete without responding.

      You can repeat exactly what you said earlier, multiple times. Do not fall into the trap of repeating yourself in different ways like there’s a right way to say no that you just haven’t figured out yet. You’re saying it right and he is making you repeat yourself in the hopes the answer will change. You said no clearly and firmly. Repeating the exact same no over and over signals that the answer is not going to change.

      His baseline for urgent action is not reasonable. So, if you’re used to working with reasonable human beings and taking them at their word that something is urgent without verifying, you need different, objective criteria for Ned. Think through what those are and keep them in mind when you talk to him – share them if you think it will help, it might! Even if it’s hard to define, a story might help. “The last time we accepted someone else’s animals in our barn without first getting a signed boarding agreement was when we helped Dr Kumbaya with her llamas when her barn burned down. Farmer Fred needs space for 15 horses because he forgot they were being delivered while he was in Jamaica, that’s not the same kind of emergency. He can fax a signed boarding agreement over or go elsewhere.”

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        All of this. This is exactly how I handle my Neds (disengage and go on about my business).

    4. The Rules are Made Up*

      i have a coworker like this too. Not QUITE as bad but a clear disconnect between the things that are HIS priority and things that are other people’s. In that he thinks his priorities are everyone’s. And most of it is not time sensitive. Getting daily reminder emails about something that isn’t actually due for 30-60 days when theres at least 5 urgent fires I have to put out that day. I get wanting to get things off your to do list but some coworkers have to understand that being tired of seeing it on the to do list doesn’t make it everyone else’s priority if things that are much more important and with higher stakes are still happening.

    5. Toasty*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought this! I’ve started scheduling weekly meetings with my Ned to get him to prioritize his constant “urgent” tasks and help him understand how much effort is actually required

    6. The Real Fran Fine*

      Yes to all of this! I deal with Neds all day long in communications (everyone thinks their announcement is the most critical, most important thing EVER – it rarely is, lol), and I just don’t respond anymore once I lay out the timeline I can get to their request. I’m not going to waste my time going back and forth when I’ve already explained our comms calendar and campaign schedule. You either get in the queue behind the other stakeholders that came before you, or you don’t and your message doesn’t get delivered – it’s their choice.

  4. KHB*

    Sounds like it’s time to break out the classic Miss Manners tautology: “I can’t, because it’s simply not possible.” Rinse and repeat.

    At least it sounds like Ned doesn’t have any authority over you, so his only recourse when he doesn’t get what he wants is to be a passive-aggressive jerk to you? So you don’t actually have to convince Ned of the rightness of your position – you can just keep telling him that you’ll get his stuff done in two weeks, and then get it done in two weeks.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      At this point, I’d probably reply once and say that my original time estimate is the absolute best I can do, given competing priorities. After that, I’d just ignore any requests from him on speeding up the work. You gave a timeline, his nagging isn’t helping, and you were focusing on getting the critical tasks done rather than debating timelines with that jabroni.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        If I worked with a Ned, quite honestly, I’d be internally knocking Ned’s requests a couple of notches down my priority list every. single. time. he nudged me on it. And the “but what if you did it sooner” one might even drop it all the way to the bottom.

        Not terribly professional, I know. But in a situation where his work priorities are not my priorities, he has no authority over me and I’m already full up with high priority work, I’d think of it as not rewarding bad behavior. If you want your stuff done by someone you have no control over, you don’t push past their boundaries and attempts to set realistic expectations for deliverables, you don’t be a grown man dispensing snark, or expectations or puppy eyes at a person who is just doing their actual job to the best of their abilities already. That ish doesn’t get you a cookie or a jump in the line. At best it gets you a reiteration of what I already told you. But on a bad day, when you’re being an entitled jerk thinking you can wheedle me into shifting priorities so that you can move to the front of the line? Oh, son, you just bought yourself a downgrade to the slow lane.

        It reminds me of people who, when you are at a counter filling out a form, or standing in front of the eggs at the store selecting a carton, step in, bump you, and attempt to stand where you are already standing and say “I’m just going to sneak in here and … do the exact thing you are currently doing, while bumping you out of the way because I’m special and don’t have to wait my turn” There are days when that ish leads me to take much longer than I normally would have.

  5. Carrots*

    Hmm. This also seems like a staffing and strategic planning issue. Can no one else support Ned? Does the OP need an assistant to take some time-crunch burden from her? If Ned’s task is actually important, why doesn’t it have deadlines? If it has no time pressure, is it really that important? Should Ned be turning some of his attention to the things that need to get done imminently? Is the messaging clear from the top that Nov-Dec are (almost) solely dedicated to end-of-year items, with other work picking back up in January?

    1. I.T. Phone Home*

      Reading this, I was really curious about the workflow. Are these actually tasks that only LW can do or is it getting split up because it’s “such a big project we need two people on it” or is Ned taking it upon himself to assign some work to LW? Is Ned bottlenecked for a month waiting for LW? If Ned is just waiting around while LW does more urgent work, can Ned take on a bigger percentage of the project?

      1. Mockingjay*

        Agree; both staffing and workflow are problems. Staffing – OP is overtasked and needs to have her workload reduced or more staff assigned. Workflow – there seems to be no process to track due dates across ALL efforts, which will identify conflicts in priorities and also assist in assigning resources. (See: Staffing.)

        Since staffing is always a long-term fix, I recommend OP have a discussion with Manager and Ned about due dates and priorities for immediate relief. Look at roles too, as I.T. Phone Home suggested. Why does Ned get the long-lead tasks and OP gets the fires? Could be a number of factors: OP is more experienced, Ned requires training in X and Y, Ned is not a great employee but with his softer, long-lead tasks he doesn’t need as much oversight (bringing up the twin problems that 1) he’s not being managed effectively and 2) OP is being held to a higher standard than Ned, resulting in more work).

        PS: I could be reading into this, but I see a lot of “learned helplessness” in Ned. If OP isn’t available to review his reports, why can’t he find someone else? Is he relying upon OP to “fix” (aka rewrite/restructure) his reports? We’ve had several posts recently about learned helplessness; seems like Ned is another example.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          I got the sense that LW has it on her schedule to complete in time for Ned’s projects to meet their deadlines. But Ned ‘prefers’ to do things faster and get things done quickly. Even when there is not a critical business needs for his xyz project to be completed sooner.

          It would be like if someone at a company decided that they liked to always have 10 spare llama grooming kits available for immediate shipment for potential online orders. And hounded the person who puts together the kits to prioritize filling his shelf for possible future orders over putting together kits needed for actual in house llama grooming appointments later today. Even though he’s got 2 already in case he does get an order today. The support for in-house work is the company’s priority right now. Ned’s desire for more than enough safety stock is a nice-to-have but will have zero impact to anyone if he doesn’t get to check it off his personal list today.

        2. Parakeet*

          I don’t usually bother to say anything about this, otherwise I’d be saying it on what feels like half the posts lately, but this isn’t what learned helplessness is. Learned helplessness is a stress/trauma response, where someone has learned from past experience that they have no control over being hurt, and give up trying, and that giving up persists even once they DO have an opportunity to escape or avoid. It’s not weaponized incompetence or anything similar to that. I know we try to avoid nitpicking terminology but this is a case where the phrase already means something very different and there’s not an alternative phrase for that important concept.

        3. cncx*

          This was exactly my problem in the job I just quit. I only got firefighting and the people with long-lead tasks hounded me to do stuff on their timeline. There’s a staffing issue if one person only puts out fires and another only has long lead, or if the person who is officially responsible for firefighting also is supposed to help the long-lead people. The last straw for me is when a long lead guy didn’t manage his project effectively and left me a steaming pile of twelve fires the day he went on vacation. Like, I know my job was firefighting but that didn’t mean give me more fires.
          Tl;dr ned is in the wrong but staffing does need to be reassessed.

      2. Lacey*

        It sounds like it’s the nature of the work that coworkers will be assigning it to the LW.

        I have that types of job. My boss does occasionally assign work, but mostly it comes from coworkers on other teams. My job exists to do work for those other teams.

        So it’s not an over-step from that point of view. Just that Ned isn’t understanding that what he needs is not the priority.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          That was my interpretation as well. I also get work assignments from several teams in a different department, but the big boss decides on relative priority. My standard response is “I can’t get to that this week because [big boss] needs me to complete X first; if you need this done sooner, talk with [big boss] about scheduling it.”

          I haven’t had to use it often, though; my team is so understaffed that the other department expects a “no” and is embarrassingly grateful if I ever tell them “yes”.

      3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Having worked in a small nonprofit myself, yes, it is very likely that LW is the only person who can get the information. when you only have 10 people in the office, you al do a variety of things and almost no one is cross trained. That could be because there isn’t time (because 10 people) or management doesn’t see the need, or because doing so is not going to add to your skillset for promotions (because 10 people with very specific roles).

        I also worked in a large 9-12th school, and even then, with 100+ teachers and 5-6 curriculum coaches/department heads, 10+ support staff, and 7+ administrators–there were reports or bits of information I could only get from one person.

    2. hellohello*

      OP pretty clearly says that staffing is an issue: “We’re desperately understaffed, so I am wearing many hats right now, including in the general operations area.”

      I think it’s likely most people at the org understand they don’t have enough staffing, and that while the OP could raise the issue, it’s not going to be a quick or easy fix. (In the meantime, OP, can you just respond “Not possible.” and move on with your more urgent work, any time Ned pushes you on this?)

      1. never mind who I am*

        “Right now I’m wearing extra hats X, Y, and Z. If you can take two of those for me, I may be able to do the third one plus my normal tasks more efficiently.”

  6. NewJobNewGal*

    If someone was overly pushy about their work, I’d send them to the priority owner to beg for a higher spot on the to-do list. As in, “Ned, your project is after the CFO’s project and the CEO’s project. But you can tell them that your project is more important, and once the CEO or CFO contacts me and tells me to prioritize your project over theirs, then I’ll switch to it.”
    It never, ever happened. The Neds want you to do the dirty work and change schedules, but once you tell Ned to have those conversations, they back off.

    1. Nicolas C.*

      LOL – I do the same. When someone wants me to prioritize their work over other assignments, I either tell them to go speak to that other person directly or go to my boss and have him get back to me about re-proritizing my work. I can count on my fingers the number of times that’s happened in 20+years.

      1. Lacey*

        Yup! I rarely have this problem, because we have a very clear priority system, but when people do think that maybe they’re the exception I say, “Oh, I’ll let Big Boss know you want this to take precedent” – and then I wait for the reply that says, “No,no,no,no,no – that’s ok, get to it when you get to it”

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I also do that, often in earnest. I don’t decide the relative priority of my projects, and I don’t have the big-picture view to make those calls. If they want their project to have a higher priority, they need to talk to [big boss] or go to the project-scheduling meeting and make their case.

      3. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yup, I’ve suggested that before to really pushy internal customers and it’s always entertaining how quickly they backpedal and agree to my initial timeline. The ONLY time they’ve actually done it and I’ve had to switch priorities was because the requestor left out the incredibly important context of “there are regulatory implications if this doesn’t happen”…and even that context didn’t come out until they got up to the senior VP level! Idiot.

    2. tangerineRose*

      Yep. I do something similar when someone asks me to do something that:
      a. Is at least a bit unreasonable
      b. Is not my job
      c. Is not a quick favor
      d. My boss probably wouldn’t want me to work on it without checking with my boss first.

      It’s amazing how I almost never hear back about the request.

    3. Julia*

      When I was a faculty assistant I did something similar when faculty came in and asked me to prioritize their work. I told them where they were in the list and said I’d be happy to move them ahead if they could just confirm with [insert faculty members names]. They never did. I preferred it over the system of prioritizing senior faculty over junior faculty. It also led to my faculty turning in materials earlier which was great for me.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Or it’s cousin, “there are no updates to the workflow timeline” because you will get to it when it comes up in the queue.

  7. Critical Rolls*

    Unhelpful suggestion: just link him to that one song. “My name is… No. My sign is… No. My number is… No. You need to let it go.”

    Possibly helpful suggestion: Find out where Ned’s manager is in all this. Maybe that person has the wherewithal to actually get him to knock it off.

    1. Christmas Carol*

      I was thinking more along the lines of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want…” but then, I’m old.

      1. Grey Panther*

        First, I believe that’s an absolutely logical response, Carol. That song/lyric is a classic for a reason.

        And second, no, not “old,” never “old”—I think “seasoned” is the word. (from one who’s also seasoned).

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Personally I prefer “experienced at life” when I start quoting 80’s and 90’s songs at my coworkers.

        (I know the Stones song is older than that – and I’ve also quoted that one at a coworker – but typically I’m quoting songs from my lifetime at coworkers. Yes, I’m also one of the older employees in my Dept as well.)

  8. The Ned in this situation*

    At the same time I can feel for Ned. His delivery was wrong but I could see him writing in “I have high priority projects that I need info/work done by one person and can’t do myself.
    Unfortunately get trumped by other work no matter how early I submit it and there is no clear timeline and I am not even sure where my work falls in her priorities. I can generally wait awhile but it needs to be done sometime, I know she is busy but she is the only person I can go to, but she seems annoyed whenever I request something. How do I handle this?”

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Sorry, but no–this sounds totally childish.

      Ned presumably knows how busy and understaffed the organization is–he can sit down and wait his turn like everyone else. If it’s a major problem he needs to take it to his/their bosses and use his words to convey it to them. Either they’ll go, hey, yeah, we’ll see what we can do, or they’ll say, yes, it’s a problem for everyone and you’ll have to learn to be patient.

      But he’s not doing that. He’s pestering the LW. Probably because it’s easier and less scary than taking it up the chain.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        The pestering tone from Ned is what’s getting to me. It was very petty of me, but I once told a pestering coworker that “constantly emailing me to get an updated timeline pushes your work backward in line because it adds responding to your email in front of pulling the data you are wanting.”

        She never did calm down, and I am no longer at that job. Guessing she’s still constantly pestering my replacement.

        1. tangerineRose*

          “constantly emailing me to get an updated timeline pushes your work backward in line because it adds responding to your email in front of pulling the data you are wanting.”

          It’s true though.

        2. allathian*

          I have a bit of leeway in which jobs I prioritize. Some tasks have statutory deadlines, and those always take precedence, but for those that don’t, my coworker and I use a modified FIFO system when we negotiate our deadlines.

          For at least 30 years, there’s always been two people in our position. My predecessor used to reward crap behavior, when people called her to ask for progress reports or simply bugged her to get their jobs done faster, she’d comply. The first time someone did that to me, I pushed back by saying that I had other jobs with a higher priority to do first. They spluttered a bit, but left me to do my job after that. In a 1:1 with my manager I said that this system was untenable, and that I needed her help to push back on some of our unreasonable internal customers rather than keep giving in and rewarding bad behavior. She saw the sense of my suggestion, and although she was in many ways a micromanager and hard to work with, her help with this was invaluable. She told me to ask those who didn’t take “not yet” for an answer from me to contact her. I did that, and I understand that she she told them that I and my coworker have the authority to prioritize these jobs as we see fit, so unless there’s a reason why this task is particularly urgent, they’ll just have to wait until we can do it.

          With a few particularly obstreperous cases, I simply told them that every time they try to hurry me along to get to their task faster, I’m dropping their task to the bottom of my work queue. When they learned that bothering us wouldn’t get their jobs done any faster, they left us to do our jobs. Naturally it helped that we kept our deadlines and delivered on time, or schedules permitting, early, in the vast majority of cases. The few times that I’ve failed to meet a deadline have happened because a sudden emergency required us to reprioritize, because of technical problems that prevented us doing our jobs, or because we failed in estimating how much time completing a task would take. That last has happened to a catastrophic degree once in the 15 years that I’ve worked for my current employer. But even then, I’ve contacted the customer as soon as it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to meet a deadline. I complete something like 400 tasks every year, and I fail to meet a deadline maybe once or twice a year at most. Some tasks take a few minutes to complete, others can take a week or more. Most take a few hours.

    2. Carrots*

      I agree with you. Ned does not seem like a villain to me, just someone who is a little lost regarding how to manage his project. And we all know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so it’s not inherently bad that he’s nudging OP on occasion. You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

      1. somanyquestions*

        Ugh, no. He’s awful and the way he’s continued to badger her about this is disrespectful and rude. If he needs more help he needs to find it elsewhere. And you sound like you’re suggesting people be an asshole like Ned to get their stuff done (because people want to get rid of assholes like that so sometimes they just do it), and that’s a terrible idea that will make your coworkers hate you.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          This. And many of us don’t give a damn how big of an ass our coworkers behave – we still bump them to the end of the line :)

          Waste your keystrokes if you want to…

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        But he IS getting what he’s asking for, he’s just not getting to jump the line to get it sooner (at other people’s expense).

    3. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Nope. I like to get things done early, and I’m perfectly fine with following up with people to make sure things get done. HOWEVER, I’m also fully aware of priorities and urgencies of different matters. I’m not going to continually bug someone if I know they’re working on more urgent stuff than mine.

    4. KHB*

      Would it help if you gave her more of an advance heads-up of when you need to lay claim to her time? So instead of “here’s the TPS report – I need you to edit it ASAP,” you’d say “I expect to be done with the TPS report on the 10th, and I hope to have it edited by the 12th – will that be possible?”

      It sounds like your workplace might be kind of a chaotic mess of people playing hot-potato with different projects, and there’s no way to tell whether all the potatoes are going to pile up on one person’s desk at the same time. Some thoughtful advance planning of how to schedule the workflows can go a long way towards alleviating the bottlenecks – although, the planning is of course a lot of work in itself.

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      – His project isn’t a high priority.
      – OP is getting him what he needs – he just doesn’t like the timeline.
      – If he believes his project needs to take precedence over OPs other work then he needs to take it up the chain.

      In your case, you need to discuss it with your manager.

    6. Blue*

      It seems like LW has way too much to do and Ned has not enough to do. He can understand theoretically how busy the LW is, but he probably also has some anxiety about his own output and is trying to treat efficiency as the mechanism to demonstrate to higher ups that he is good at his job. Unfortunately, he has chosen to act like an absolute tool about it instead of any number of appropriate responses such as 1. trying to collaborate with LW or others to be able to do more of the work himself 2. asking for additional projects to be added to his plate so he has other stuff to do while he waits for data 3. simply chilling the eff out.

      1. somanyquestions*

        That’s what I was thinking- he needs LW’s knowledge related to his committee. If he has so much time on his hands maybe he should be working on learning this stuff himself so he can work at his own speed.

    7. Weary cigarette drag*

      You can erase everything after the “but”. His delivery was wrong, and it continues to be wrong because it is an ongoing problem with his behavior, not a one-off foot in mouth problem.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Yep. He can “prefer” to get things done sooner all he likes, but if OP is trying to secure funding for next year or whatever, then his preferences have about as much standing in that org as mine do. He needs to knock it off.

    8. Resigned Manager*

      The answer is: Ned, be clear with the timeline in which you need the work done. And if you’re not able to get what you need, collaborate with your manager on getting the appropriate support and resources.

      Ned doesn’t even bother setting a timeline for his own request, thinking that if he doesn’t, he can bump his project to the front of the line with let’s get it done ahead of time or “sooner.” ASAP isn’t a date, and clear is kind. His tactic is backfiring on him.

    9. learnedthehardway*

      No – Ned KNOWS his project is lower priority AND that it has lots of lead time. He just wants it done early because it is convenient for him and he feels comfortable with that.

      If that’s the case, either he can do it himself, or he can find someone else to help him.

      The “but what if you did it anyway” line is just passive-aggressive and rude.

      The appropriate response would have been to say he understands the timeline the OP is dealing with and that 2 weeks either is or is not going to work for him. If it is workable, fine. If not, he should be talking to his manager about getting more resources, doing the work himself, or finding a way to either get his project prioritized more highly by management or getting the timeline extended. He should NOT be pressuring the OP to defer her higher priority work for his project or work excessive hours, or whatever.

    10. Hannah Lee*

      But there IS a timeline in LW’s case.

      It’s just that Ned ‘prefers’ to get stuff done ahead of when it’s actually needed (or where it can fall given the company’s other priorities) and doesn’t want to wait for where his stuff falls in LW’s schedule.

    11. MigraineMonth*

      Ned in this Situation, the first thing I would do is make sure I’m asking rather than demanding the first time; I try to acknowledge that she has other, higher, priorities and ask where my request can be fit in. If she can’t fit it in, instead of badgering her, go to your manager with the issue.

      As a note, you said she seems annoyed. When I had an issue with a coworker who was brusque and borderline rude in emailed responses whenever I asked for her help, I gently brought it up with her. She apologized, explained that she hadn’t realized her stress was bleeding into her communications, and actually thanked me for bringing it up.

    12. Annony*

      Except the OP is giving a timeline of when the task will be done. Ned just doesn’t like it. Not because he actually needs it sooner but because he likes things to be done immediately.

    13. Observer*

      “I have high priority projects that I need info/work done by one person and can’t do myself.
      Unfortunately get trumped by other work no matter how early I submit it and there is no clear timeline and I am not even sure where my work falls in her priorities. I can generally wait awhile but it needs to be done sometime, I know she is busy but she is the only person I can go to, but she seems annoyed whenever I request something. How do I handle this?”

      Except that this is NOT what the OP is describing. They *do* provide time lines, Ned admits that many of these things have a long lead time, and Ned is being extremely rude about it. Pushing for an expedited timeline from someone who is busy because you “like” to have stuff done in advance is certainly not the way to deal.

  9. Paris Geller*

    If someone who was not my boss (or grand-boss or incredibly senior to me) asked me “what if you did it sooner?” to a task I had been clear about the timeline for, I’m not even sure how I would respond except maybe laugh.

  10. SK*

    Template email response. Have it ready to copy & paste as needed. No need to re-write the same thing repeatedly.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*


      Hello Ned,

      I have received your task. I will get to it as soon as possible given the many high priority tasks already in the queue.


  11. Hills to Die on*

    “But what if you did it sooner?”
    “But what if you respected what I already told you about the prioritization of my tasks?”

    1. Ann Ominous*


      “Are you asking me because you are genuinely curious what would happen if I prioritized your project over the CEO’s?”

  12. somanyquestions*

    Ned seems to have too much time on his hands while others are overworked and maybe this is something that needs to be addressed. Maybe he could be taking on more that he’s pushing on the LW if he expanded his knowledge set about what his own committee is doing.

    Also if someone said “But what if you did it sooner?” to me in that situation my head would silently explode. And then there would be real discussions. That’s just such a jerky thing to say, & such a terrible way to phrase it. He’s been told his things are not an immediate priority and continuing to push is just not OK.

    1. Lacey*

      It could be that Ned’s work is being made more difficult by the delay – not that he has too little of it. But that still doesn’t excuse the selfish/rude reply.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Then Ned can make a case … up his own food chain … about having the prioritization of his projects updated in relation to other active projects. Continuing to try to wheedle a slot in the schedule of the person who *already* has a big full queue of high priority stuff, who doesn’t actually set the priorities, is NOT the way.

        It’s like, if I’m trying to get my car onto this afternoon’s ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, but have a reservation for next week. Today’s ferry is fully booked, so driving my car to the ferry ramp and repeatedly asking the people loading cars if I couldn’t just go ahead of the cars already booked for today, just cuz it would be better for me, is NOT, the way to proceed. It’s presumptuous, self-centered and only serves to slow down and annoy people just trying to do work that needs to get done right then.

        The better path is to contact ferry management, make my case, and see if THEY will reschedule some of the other cars based on what they know about overall priorities, space, scheduling and what my situation is. (relative needs me there to urgently donate a kidney? maybe they shuffle reservations. but if I just like to get there sooner, so I can get on with other things? probably not)

  13. Robert in SF*

    Perhaps OP would consider a reply that assures Ned it’s on OPs radar, and has a commitment to get done…such as “I am scheduled to start on this [in 2 weeks] after the current prioritized/time-sensitive workload has been completed.”

    If Ned still pushes, then maybe it’s time to take it slightly personal, and escalate with the boss to push back and ask “Why do you not believe I will not get this done per my commitment?”, or “Why are you not trusting me to get this done when I say I will?” But that could be a pandora’s box?

    1. somanyquestions*

      It sounds like she’s doing just that, explaining the timeline and priorities, and his answer is “But what if you did it sooner?”

  14. Lisa*

    After all this back and forth with Ned, I would consider not replying to his “what if you did it sooner?” and let him take the hint.

    1. Your Computer Guy*

      Yeah, something that makes me see red like that I just wind up ignoring. I draft the snippy email in my head, go and fume to my wife about it, or look over at my cat and say “check out this %@#$&!” Ultimately that kind of attitude is designed to try to get attention so I just don’t give that attention.

      For someone like him, I’d probably start throwing out calendar invites related to when I could do his stuff. And then if you’ve got to bump them out he’ll see the reschedule. But not something like “done with X” by a certain date, more like “starting Y process” or “Z project component sync up” if there’s info he’s trying to dump on you at random times. Then it becomes “It’ll all happen in a meeting, Ned, when we’ve got the time, here’s a date for it.” or “Oh no, had to reschedule because W is on fire, talk to you next week.”

    2. Properlike*

      I’m mean like this, but the teacher in me would say, “Okay, let’s engage with this thought problem: What IF I did it sooner, Ned? Tell me what would happen then?”

      And then we’d go down the long list of other things that he surely will not think of.

      This would be last-warning crap. “Don’t make me add another week to any of your requests, because I trust you understand now, right?”

      Yes, it’s condescending, but so is “What if you did it sooner?”

    3. Corporate Lawyer*

      I’ve run into many Neds during my career, and I would 100% ignore “what if you did it sooner?” Roll my eyes, delete the email unanswered, and get on with the rest of my (higher priority) work.

      I also would reply to all of Ned’s requests with basically a template email as someone else suggested upthread, giving an approximate timeline for when I expect to be able to get to the request (“I expect to be able to get that to you by [date] and will let you know if that changes”), and I wouldn’t get into any back and forth with him except to repeat the same thing over and over. I also wouldn’t give reasons for my timeline, because to borrow a phrase from Captain Awkward, “reasons are for reasonable people.”

  15. BradC*

    I like Allison’s response, it might even be stronger if you can give a specific day/time you expect to be able to work on it:

    “As we discussed, (quarterly reports/other business critical tasks) are my priority the next two weeks, I plan on starting your analysis on (day/time)”

  16. CommanderBanana*

    LW, you are remarkably diplomatic. My response to ‘but what if you did it sooner?’ would have been…less than gracious.

  17. Merrie*

    Reminds me of my former non-pharmacist boss at a major corporate pharmacy. “I don’t understand why you can’t just put more prescriptions in as waiters [and thereby have to get each one done in 15-20 minutes or get dinged on metrics], you have to do them all eventually anyway.”

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Because when I ask for staffing to be able to process ‘current volume’ + the more you’re asking for, based on the actual time it takes to process x # of prescriptions, your answer is always “not going to happen”

        So, if you’re only going to staff for, say, 150 prescriptions processed per day, you can expect an average of, drum roll please, 150 prescriptions processed per day, given 100% availability of systems, accurate inventory forecasts and average Rx complexity. You’re not going to get 150 + 50 just because you’d like that.

  18. hellohello*

    OP pretty clearly says that staffing is an issue: “We’re desperately understaffed, so I am wearing many hats right now, including in the general operations area.”

    I think it’s likely most people at the org understand they don’t have enough staffing, and that while the OP could raise the issue, it’s not going to be a quick or easy fix. (In the meantime, OP, can you just respond “Not possible.” and move on with your more urgent work, any time Ned pushes you on this?)

  19. She of Many Hats*

    I suspect Ned will be receiving a lot of “per my last email…” responses.

    And it sounds like Ned may have room on his daily agenda for doing his own reports or taking a couple of items off the OP’s agenda.

  20. GarlicMicrowaver*

    Unpopular opinion: I can be a Ned and understand where he is coming from. Perfectionism, anxiety. Not saying it’s right, but the struggle is real. I also hate teamwork and prefer independent work because everyone else is the holdup.

    1. urguncle*

      I understand suffering from anxiety, but it is not acceptable to transfer that anxiety to someone else as a method of coping. Repeated emails or asking for your work to be completed in front of others just wastes their time.

    2. Weary cigarette drag*

      Consider that some opinions are unpopular because they are bad and should be unpopular, not because the people who hold them are brilliant iconoclasts?

      Also consider that maybe LW has her own struggles and doesn’t need to be Ned’s unpaid emotional heatsink.

        1. Observer*

          No, not at all. Someone is implying that bad behavior should be overlooked because it may be coming from anxiety / perfectionism, which are genuine problems.

          Well, that’s a problem. And one that really, really needs to be called out. Because that kind of attitude is extremely damaging.

          1. GarlicMicrowaver*

            Never anywhere did I imply that the behavior should be overlooked, nor was I glorifying it. Was simply saying I can relate to Ned and he’s not a complete inconsiderate POS.

            Signed, a not-so-brilliant iconoclast with bad opinions

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Then you need to work on your therapy techniques for dealing with *your* issues instead of making them other peoples’ issues. I highly recommend cognitive behavioral therapy.

      FYI, understanding someone’s motivations/intentions doesn’t make their behavior/impact okay.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This. There’s value in empathy, but other people’s feelings are not my responsibility. I have to do my job. I’ll be responsive, and nice, and collegial, but I can’t manage your emotions.

      2. GarlicMicrowaver*

        I believe I said, “not saying it’s right” in my original comment. Love the implications here. Don’t appreciate the medical advice, either.

    4. Observer*

      Unpopular opinion: I can be a Ned and understand where he is coming from. Perfectionism, anxiety.

      So? It’s just not relevant. If Ned has a problem, he needs to talk to his boss about how to manage that. Badgering people and being rude to them is NOT an acceptable solution.

      I’m sure that lots of people can understand where it’s coming from. But what everyone is saying is that regardless of where it’s coming from the behavior is highly inappropriate, rude and selfish.

  21. a flaming ball of distinction*

    Ned clearly doesn’t respect your time so this seems like a great reason to borrow authority from your or (even better) Ned’s boss.

    “What if you did it sooner?”
    “I’m prioritizing work as directed by [Ned’s boss] / [your boss].”

  22. Foley*

    I read this as Ned not working for the non-profit.

    I’ve volunteered for Boards/Committees which need to interface with employees but doesn’t *direct* employees. If this is the case, it feels like there needs to be a conversation with the ED/Board about how to manage these relationships.

    1. bratschegirl*

      Yes! Exactly my reading of this as well. OP’s language “while our many committees do important work, they cannot all have staff time at once” tells me that Ned is not staff. Which makes things difficult, because the board is both OP’s boss and the manager’s boss, and usually board members are significant donors.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        But we don’t know that Ned is on the board? (Actually, it never occurred to me. Is this likely to be the case?)

    2. AudraMorgana*

      This was my reading as well. Which explains Nick having all this time, and why it has to be handled diplomatically.

  23. irene adler*

    In some companies, getting one’s work done sooner only means more work will be assigned.

    So if Ned is not busy later on, maybe he could take on some of the OP’s tasks? Ideally ones that the OP would prefer not to do. At the OP’s discretion, of course.

  24. MurpMaureep*

    I think the LW should send Ned to her boss (after having the discussion with her boss that Alison suggests).

    Don’t keep engaging with Ned because that gives him an inroad to ask asinine questions about “doing it sooner”. When he sends a request, say when you can get it done and if there is any pressure to change priorities, loop in your boss and have her address it with Ned or his management.

    I do this all the time for my staff and actively encourage them to use me as a buffer to communicate priorities and availability. It also helps facilitate conversations among management about how and why others are trying to dictate priorities at a peer level.

    1. Girasol*

      Yes, this. It sounds like somewhere above Ned and OP, priorities have not been clearly established. Ned seems to have the impression that his efforts are higher in priority than OP’s, and OP is getting the opposite message, and a lack of deadlines all around is making the situation more ambiguous.

      Perhaps a formal project timeline would help, where OP tells the boss, “If I (and other team members) have 100% time dedicated to this, this is what the timeline would look like. If I need to spend 20% of my time on Ned’s efforts, it would push the completion to this date. If he needs more of my time, then it will take longer. How do you want me to balance efforts on this project with Ned’s demands?” And then once the decision is made, OP can refer Ned to the boss to explain why his demands should delay OP’s project.

  25. GooglyMooglies*

    “What if you did it sooner?” Well what if I won the lotto and quit?? We can play the what if game all day long but some of us have work to do!!

  26. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    Snark: But what if you stopped wasting my time by nagging me?

    Straightforward: As you know [quote his message here], I am very busy and handling a lot of projects without adequate staffing. Everything I’m working on is important, and much of it is more urgent than $thing-you-want. My boss sets the priorities here, and I can’t just change them because you asked me to.

    And then resend that, word for word, every time he nags you.

  27. CSRoadWarrior*

    “But what if you did it sooner?” is basically the professional way of saying “I want it now!”, like Veruca Salt.

    And truth be told, if it were me, it would just trigger me. We already have a lot of things on our plate at work. We do NOT need anything else to worry about. I wouldn’t want to work with Ned.

  28. kiki*

    I want to start by saying Ned is handling this poorly and is either clueless or a bit of a jerk. But is it possible that a 2-week turnaround for some of this stuff is kind of unreasonable? Not that LW should do Ned’s requests faster or prioritize them over other work, but it might be worth LW’s boss investigating if LW is creating an unnecessary bottleneck for the project right now. I know there’s understaffing so it’s possible LW is the only person available with the correct skillset, but it may be worthwhile to see if LW can be taken off the project with Ned for the time being and replaced with somebody slightly less skilled but more available.

    Again, I think Ned is handling this really poorly, I’ve just seen situations like this before where a little investigating made folks realize somebody else could do the work, the order of the work could be reorganized to accommodate the extremely busy person’s availability, etc.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      We don’t know what Ned needs, but in my job, 2 weeks is a short amount of time for some things, as I often have to coordinate reviews/sign-offs & other things before the work can be released.

      Ned needs to understand that there are different priorities, as well as others who need things, & provide the OP with deadlines, if relevant to his project.

  29. nameless/toothless*

    In my last job, I followed this script a lot. I was fixing software bugs and occasionally developing new code. I’d typically respond with an estimate of when I’d be able to look at new problem, or a status for when I’d complete it, including “this one is hard and will take at least a few days,” “there are some high-priority short-deadline items in front of yours,” “your problem looks interesting so I took a quick look.”

  30. Hiring Mgr*

    I agree with OPs initial assessment – this is MILD conflict and should be easily settled as per Alison’s advice.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It absolutely is! But those can also be the ones that really get under your skin, because you know there’s no real recourse. So I’m glad OP wrote in. Mild conflicts can be death by a thousand papercuts if you don’t find ways to cope.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      It’s also a good opportunity to set expectations and limits so the situation doesn’t escalate.

      People like Ned will always say “It would be better if you got this to me right away” and you need to be able to say “As we’ve discussed, my workload doesn’t allow for that. You’ll get it on [agreed upon date].”

  31. DarthVelma*

    I have a sign in my office that says “Sure, let me drop everything and work on your problem.”

    While I love working from home most of the time, I do kinda miss being able to point people at that sign when they tried to pull this shit with me.

  32. A Pound of Obscure*

    This is the most perfect of opportunities to answer a question with a question. “But what if you did it sooner?” “What if I had a magic wand?”

    1. Ann Ominous*

      Yes! Answer with a cheery tone. “Ooh, magical thinking! I love this game. My turn. What if I had a billion dollars and the ability to pause time?”

    2. MurpMaureep*

      If someone actually said that to me, I’d treat it as a joke. Along the lines of “LOL good one! But seriously, look for this to be completed by X date as previously discussed”.

  33. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Ned reminds me of someone I have to deal with on the Projects team here. And that’s not a compliment.

    He will tell me, not ask, TELL, me that the required IT facts have to be in his inbox by next week or he won’t make the deadline. To which I usually reply that I need X weeks to do the work and even then it might get pushed back because things like emergencies tend to crop up in my line of work (IT).

    He’d complained once that I sounded ‘bossy’ and ‘scary’ and ‘arrogant’ after that.

    But we’re not in the same reporting line so I can’t do much to change him. I do, however, refuse to a) apologise b) make excuses for my time demands and stick to solely the boring facts. My emails to him read about as dry as Mars basically.

    (And to the time he said ‘but what if you made time NOW?’ I suggested he go find a blue police box if he wanted that. But I am fairly senior in my own right and really sarcastic)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I am absolutely fine being bossy, scary, and arrogant. If that’s my reputation there’s a reason.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yeah, me too. Thankfully I’m in an environment where assertive women are penalized less for their assertiveness than seems to be the case in the US. I don’t suffer fools gladly and people know that. But I’m kind and professional with people who don’t try to boss me around without having the authority to do so.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Very much agreed. I regard being thought of as those traits to be compliments – along with the B word that’s been thrown my way at times. If people are scared of a minority woman taking no crap? I’m good.

  34. Ann Ominous*

    Return awkward passive-aggressive douchery to sender without engaging in it.

    “Ned, I outlined the reasons I’m not just doing it now and you acknowledged them – in the same email where you then asked me ‘what if I just did it now’. I don’t understand your question. Can you clarify exactly what you are asking me?”

  35. Endangered Gummies*

    Ned is the kind of douchebag who if he just happened to catch LW taking a single moment of time for herself to decompress he will shout from the mountaintops “but look she’s not busy!!”

    LW needs to know her manager is on her side to get this boil off her ass.

  36. Out & About*

    “But what if you did it sooner?”
    “Ned, my availability just changed. Looks like I’ll get to your stuff next month instead of next week.”

  37. kwebbel*

    You mentioned that Ned also praises you and says “I don’t know how you get so much work done!” Perhaps this is a moment where you could look at him and say, sincerely, “The reason I’m able to get so much done is because I ruthlessly prioritize requests as they come through, am transparent about exactly how much I can take on, and follow through as I say I will. That’s why, for example, I tell you ‘no’ when I know there’s no room for your projects at short notice – so I can keep up my reputation as a dependable high-performer.” Adjust as you see fit, but a good “teachable moment” – when he might very well just be saying that to try and flatter you into working faster.

    1. Carit*

      Sometimes I really wish there were and up-vote option!

      I really like this — partially because I admire the practice so much and just… can’t do it. But it’s really helpful to have set out so clearly and simply. Thanks, @kwebbel!

  38. Llama Llama*

    I have been on both sides of this issue. My current role is a cluster of issues and many times I have to tell people that I cannot prioritize their work. I also have frustrations of issues that cause me lots of work when others can’t prioritize work that I need from them.

    I don’t have any advice but I sympathize with both OP and Ned.

    1. Ann Ominous*

      You probably don’t (hopefully) act like Ned when others can’t prioritize your work, though.

      “But what if you just did it anyway?” sounds like a motivational tip that you can get at one of those weekend seminars that were so popular in the 1990s.

  39. animaniactoo*

    We solved this problem in my department by having all requests have to go through our manager so that she could prioritize our work. Very hard to push back against HER saying “I need them to get X done first.”

    With the exception, of course, of drive-bys by the company owners. Those almost always take precedence, and they well understand “I need to get this overseas today or we’ll miss a shipping deadline. I’ll work on it after that, okay?”



    He wrote back asking, “But what if you did it sooner?”

    “Likely, I would be in extreme trouble for missing the deadline for another project that I would have to put aside to work on this.”

  40. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

    There’s a lot of assumption here that Ned is a co-worker of the LW, but I think that Ned is actually a high-level volunteer.

    LW says: “I’m a project manager at a nonprofit. […] “Ned” heads a committee that is working on a project that is important but not urgent.”

    Which makes this harder, because Ned doesn’t have a boss to appeal to, and also Ned isn’t on the ground to see LW actually working hard and never getting a chance to sit down and chat. Plus there’s the whole “we need our volunteers and if we criticize too hard we’ll drive them off”. It’s tricky, but someone needs to make Ned aware of LW’s limits. Maybe if LW’s boss drafts an email for the CEO to send, Ned will see that this is actually a big deal?

    LW, can you set up an email rule to let Ned’s email go into a folder which you can ignore until you get to your planned time to work on his stuff? And maybe even set expectations by telling him that you won’t be able to reply to his emails until SpecificDate.

  41. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

    I don’t know how feasible this is, but what came to mind is that it might help if Ned had something else to do, which didn’t have any critical paths to be held up by other people. Then when he has to wait for input on this project, he can be getting on with the other one.

  42. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

    Is there any reason to respond at all to those emails from Ned? Once you’ve told him when you’ll have it back, and he knows you know there’s no actual urgency, can’t you just ignore the douchemails? Train him that he’ll get no reward for pestering you, and put the onus on him to complain?

    1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

      Seriously, if I knew my manager had my back the way OP does? I would read the “What if you did it sooner email?” and take supreme pleasure in hitting the little trash can button.

  43. Bread Sauce*

    I had a similar situation, but with 90% of our internal customers. The org had a terrible culture in which bad behaviour was rewarded, so being hounded was a constant.

    At one point, I was called into a sit-down meeting with the manager of a particularly problematic customer, who was under the impression her direct report was being treated badly. While discussing the direct report’s complaints, and the process for requests, the manager asked why we couldn’t create a more efficient request system.

    First I showed her all the times when her direct report tried to circumvent the queue with last-minute requests, a problem of his own making, which was most of the time. Then I told her an improved request system had been in the works for over a year, but kept getting pushed aside while I dealt with unrelenting jump-the-queue pressure from customers like her direct reports, and meetings like the one we were in. There was an aha moment. She paused, and was very quiet while looking at his requests… then apologized for not asking the hard questions of her direct report, and never tried to intervene again.

    Her direct report did not get any less Ned-like, however. And I had to have the same basic conversation with his new manager when the original one left.

    1. Ann Ominous*

      She didn’t ask the hard questions before she met with you, and she didn’t ask them afterward. That’s unfortunate.

  44. Juicebox Hero*

    I’d be daydreaming about sharing my grandmother’s favorite saying with him: “Wish in one hand, s**t in the other. See which fills up first.”

    Not something you could ever ever ever say to a colleague, but it’s fun to fantasize about it.

  45. Ellis Bell*

    Standard Ned scripts going forward could be set responses to his usual requests. So, a response to “But what if you did it sooner?” is “The soonest that I will be done with higher priority tasks is x, as I said.” The response to “Can you do this right away? I like things to be done right away” is “I like to do the higher priority tasks right away.” The response to “Isn’t this high priority though?” is “Not according to Jane.” You could also build this into your emails proactively as a counter argument like “I will start the x data next month which is the soonest date I’ll be free from higher priority tasks”. Basically just reiterate that it is the soonest time possible! You’ve already run it through the efficiency machine without needing Ned to remind you that soon is good.

  46. Molly Coddler*

    Re Ned and What if you did it sooner? Where I come from there is an expression “What if my grandma had wheels?” The answer is always “I guess we’ll never know”. But I know you can’t say that to Ned. I say that in my head at work and it helps sometimes.

  47. Cat on a Keyboard*

    I wonder if relevant context on Ned’s situation might be getting overlooked – does he have work he can do if he has to wait a month for LW’s review/response? Is he pestering LW because he’s a jerk, or because there’s nothing else he can work on? He may be reluctant to admit that he is twiddling his thumbs, even when asked, since that can feel like admitting one’s position has no value.
    “But what if you did it sooner” definitely comes off passive-aggressive to LW who is harried about competing demands, but I could envision a world in which Ned didn’t intend it that way and is a bit clueless.

  48. KatEnigma*

    Literally on Friday, my husband’s manager told a group, on his behalf, that Manager is sorry, but Husband won’t be working on something for them at this time because he is needed on Other Project that is higher priority.

    LW needs to hold firm on “Manager sets the priority of what I can work on. If your need is urgent, take it up with her.”

  49. Anon01*

    I know that all of this work is nuanced with differing priorities but I will say that asking your manager to step in for you so quickly seems like a mistake. If this were the CEO of your company, sure, but you describe him as a colleague and your colleague is not owed anything other than, ‘It is not possible nor feasible for this to be done before X.’ And if this continues to be a problem, I would off-load the entirety of the project or at the very least not agree to more action items unless there is a reasonable due date that fits your schedule.

  50. abca*

    I see many people recommend to “just go to your manager!” or even “explain to Ned that the manager sets the priorities” and maybe that works well for LW, but they are a project manager, that’s not typically a job where you get specific tasks assigned to you by a manager who is deeply involved in your day to day job. The generic message about priorities that LWs manager already sent seems about the level what I expect there.

    Replying “my manager sets the priorities, please take this up with them” can really backfire, people start seeing you as an assistant type worker who doesn’t really own their work but gets tasks assigned to them, instead of as a project-manager who owns prioritizing. It’s especially dangerous if you’re a woman.

    1. Carit*

      Yes, I was noticing that. As a female very senior individual contributor in a highly technical field, this is absolutely not what I’m going to favor, because it gives away my agency.

      Instead, I focus on the institutional priorities and relative importance. And I work really hard to make sure everyone is aware of and ideally buys into the layout of the import/urgent matrix in line with the mission and goals.

      They’re a non-profit, thus Ned is presumably very aware of the org’s mission and in favor of it. That really ought to help with alignment and buy in.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I think it depends how you use it; even when people are totally self directed, people still have managers to answer to if they drop a high priority ball. Ned is genuinely really clueless and it can be a polite way of saying: “You are not my manager – you do not have to understand my priorities, because you do not set my goals, someone else does.” If you use it with someone who is genuinely well clued in, instead of just saying “that’s not a priority because x deadline is this week, remember?” then yeah, that would be a dangerous way of using this tool.

    3. cncx*

      There’s also people whose managers don’t have their back. I’ve tried this and my ex boss would just roll over and make me do the thing just to make himself look good

  51. goddessoftransitory*

    “But what if you did it sooner?” But what if monkeys flew out of my butt, NED?

    Okay, not the most professional response, clearly, but honestly. This sentence made porcupine quills sprout from my back because I hear this ALL. THE. TIME. when telling people how long it’s going to be for their order to be ready. There is a subset of people out there who cannot process that their personal desires and the actualities of space/time do not always form a perfect circle.

    “But I’m in your parking lot right now!” “But I’m heading home from work!” “But it’s my turn to bring fifteen pizzas to the soccer party!” Yeah, but it’s also six thirty on a Friday night, and times are high because everyone else in town is in a similar position and many of them called in before you did!

  52. Carit*

    I think people are, understandably, reacting strongly to Ned’s extremely douchey comment. But if the OP doesn’t want to deal with this same pattern over the next two years, that comment isn’t the issue!

    I was really struck by this part of the letter:
    *I asked my manager for help and she wrote an email explaining that I was working on projects that needed to take precedence, and that while our many committees do important work, they cannot all have staff time at once. His reply showed that he might not understand where this project stands in the big picture.*

    So, Ned responded to that discussion by making it clear that he did not understand where his project fit in the organization’s important/urgent matrix … and the conversation just ended there? That gap is, I think the biggest thing to address, and most likely to avoid — or at least decrease — the same whingeing in the future.

    I think that it is essential to make it clear to Ned, and potentially to others, where exactly his important-but-not-urgent project is in the organization’s important/urgent matrix. Any committees/coworkers should have that idea, and the idea of the org’s priorities. And this is a three-plus year project, so the LW is going to be dealing with it ad nauseam.

    A version of that, preferably as a diagram, should be provided and walked through with Ned. That is when to explicitly address the difference between his preferences and the org’s operational priorities. *Then* if he continues to try to push his preference, it’s absolutely clear that it isn’t in good faith and can be dealt with appropriately. But until that landscape has been made clear to him to a level that “not understanding” is patently unreasonable, it’s going to be difficult to limit the behavior.

  53. Knitting Cat Lady*

    Oh hell, this has the same feeling like the time a junior colleague from another division tried to convince me to compare our models with each other. By which he naturally meant that *I* should do the comparing.

    I was completely swamped at the time. Told him so. It’s just a few numbers it won’t take long, he whined. Still don’t have time. We used the same source material, we both can read, and the reviewers confirmed the models were sound and true to the source. Still he whined on that *we* should do the comparison, just in case.

    And then I defeated him.

    ‘You clearly think this is very important and have your heart set on this. I literally can’t do it in the next few weeks. Here’s what we’ll do. I’ll put a copy of my model on our shared network drive and you can check everything to your heart’s content.’

    And suddenly the comparison wasn’t important anymore…

  54. DontbEchoChmbr*

    This was such an over the top reaction and feedback. Other than that cringeworthy first note about doing it sooner, seems like he’s just interested in getting things done quickly but not necessarily pushing for it (I don’t see following up with an email as overly pushy). That’s everyone in corporate America.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, well, he just needs to learn that his work isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.

  55. worker bee*

    My answer to “But what if you did it sooner?” would be: “Then it would be finished earlier.” It has the virtues of being both true and baffling. It offers no commitment. It’s just a true answer to a ridiculous question.

  56. MassChick*

    My dropped open at the “what if you did it sooner” line but then Alison topped it with the first line of her response! Love it!

  57. 653-CXK*

    I get requests from other departments to contact other clients to explain something, to settle a bill, etc. right in the middle of things that demand strict attention to detail. This has given me an idea on how to shut down this kind of “sacrifice your work and do mine” manipulation that goes on where I am.

Comments are closed.