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Here’s a Better (and Less Whiny) Way to Say “That’s Not My Job”

By | Abby Wolfe |

Imagine this:

You play professional soccer and your team’s reached the semi-finals. With two minutes left in the game, you’ve somehow ended up in front of your team’s net. An opponent’s winding up to shoot, and your goalkeeper’s nowhere close to where he should be. In fact, there’s no way he’s going to get back in time, meaning you’re the only one standing between the enemy and the goal. Which of the following do you choose to do?

  • Prepare to stop the shot, no matter what.
  • Shrug and walk away, allowing your opponent to basically dribble into the goal. After all, you’re not the keeper, so it’s not your job to stop the ball.

I’m willing to bet you’d choose the first option (unless you’re secretly conspiring against your team).

Now let’s change the scenario a bit.

Your co-worker has a time-sensitive report due to one of her clients by the end of the day. But due to competing priorities, she doesn’t have the time to complete it. Frantically, she turns to you and asks if you can do her a solid and finish it up for her. What do you do?

Do you find a way to help her out, or do you shake your head no and mutter under your breath something along the lines of “It’s not my job to finish deliverables for your clients.”

Though a trip to the championship game isn’t on the line here, the integrity of your team member (and your company) is. Yet, I’m guessing that in this situation, you at least leaned toward the second option—if not settling on it as your final decision altogether.

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