I spent a week at the beach with my extended family. Needless to say, it was great. Great weather. Great nature. Great company. Great times.
Except for the day when my nephew had to work for hours. And hours. He’s not in the most junior position at his firm, but he’s close. And the interns, whom he manages, are no longer able to work past 6pm.
I checked in with him as he sat at his computer, and he explained that a colleague in Brazil was passing things – nearly everything – his way. Dumping on him. “What would you suggest Aunt Lisa?” he asked me. “How should I handle this?”
My first piece of advice was what I tell to almost all my clients. “Get on the same side of the problem with your colleague,” I told him. “Find a way for the two of you to be, and act as, a team to handle the issue and the work.”
If only it were that easy.
That is, perhaps, one of the best answers to this problem. But I could hear my nephew wondering how in heck he would or could convince his colleague to partner with him rather than dump on him. So, how do you do that?
- Get to know them, really know them – This may seem obvious, or maybe a waste of time, but we have a much harder time dumping on someone we have a connection with. The more of a relationship – and a relationship of equals – you can build with your dumper, the less dumped on you may be. The more they can see what the two of you have in common, the more willing they’ll most likely be to work with you (instead of against you).
- Help them see what you’re doing for them – As human beings, in general, we are driven to reciprocate. If you can help your dumper see all that you’ve already done for them, they’ll be more compelled to do something for you in return.
- Define the problem together, and what they could potentially lose – We are also driven more by the fear of loss than by the potential to gain. So, when we’re part of defining a problem and its potential consequences, we’re inherently more compelled to solve it. Help your dumper own the problem with you, point out what’s at risk for them, and they’re more likely to jump in.
- Point out What’s In It For Them to partner with you – We’re also by nature more likely to wonder what’s in it for us in a situation, or to focus first on how we’ll be personally affected. What benefits will they experience by partnering with you, or at least dumping a little bit less? Why, really, should they stop?
- Find What’s In It For You to take on the dumped stuff – There may be times when you get dumped on, and even with all the best approaches you stay dumped on. At that point, it’s best to look for what you can gain by tackling the project. What new skill or knowledge can you learn? How can the experience enhance you? What do you want to get out of it? If you can’t get the dumping to stop, finding the silver lining will at least make it a bit more palatable.
Getting dumped on sucks. Plain and simple. But there are things you can do to stop or lessen the dumping. Bottom line, find a way to act like a team with your dumper, and remember not to dump yourself!
How do you stop someone from dumping on you?
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For support in stopping the dumping, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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