Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Sparkle Star on June 27, 2013, 07:31:57 AM

Title: Charitable Attitude
Post by: Sparkle Star on June 27, 2013, 07:31:57 AM
We've recently had dealings with a local charity and some of the behaviour of the lady who is in charge prompted me to wonder what my fellow eHellions would make of it.

Recent/frequent examples include:

1. She is always - and I mean always - late. Sometimes it's 10 minutes, sometimes 45. Her reasoning is that somebody else needed her (to lend an ear, practical support, whatever) and as a good Christian it was more important she responded to them than kept our appointment.
2. She expects everything for nothing. For example, she asked a friend of mine who runs a video company to take some footage for a promotional film. He was happy to oblige, under the expectation from the brief that it would take him maybe a day. After three days (due to her insistence on reshoots etc to meet her very specific idea of how the film should look) it was done. He'd been told he just had to hand the film over and the charity would edit it with students from a local college; however, she then said she'd rather he did it and she'd like it in the next couple of days! He felt he had to point out how much of his time he'd given, which as a one-man business was a considerable donation. If they wanted him to continue, and to provide the finished article so quickly, payment would have to be involved. I gather it got quite heated and unpleasant....her view is that as a charity, everyone should be willing to give whatever she needs for free.
3. When she asks for a favour that involves you, you're the one that ends up chasing her endlessly with phone calls, emails etc to confirm arrangements - even though you're the one helping out. Two days ago she asked me if I could drop some items off to her at her office. I've been trying to pin her down to a time ever since. Part of me thinks that I should just leave it for her to make contact as if she doesn't get the items, it's her issue - but I know that other people are expecting to receive them this evening, so I'll feel bad if they don't.

I should say that I'm not overly stressed by this lady, though I do get irritated by her persistent lateness as it's a real bugbear of mine. But I support the charity and I like her personally a great deal - I'm learning to deal with 'the way she is'.

It strikes me, though, that some of her behaviour is quite rude or inconsiderate - and etiquette-wise, the fact that you're representing a Christian charity/organisation isn't an excuse, is it? Just interested!
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: PastryGoddess on June 27, 2013, 07:39:49 AM
She's rude and entitled.

Showing up late for appointments tells that person that they are not important to you.  Expecting something for nothing and then getting upset when people legitimately ask for compensation is entitled.  Forcing people to chase you down after asking them to do a favor is rude.

I think she likes the idea of saying she runs a charity, without actually liking to do the hard work it takes to be effective.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: Margo on June 27, 2013, 07:49:54 AM
Her attitude and behavior stink. And the fact that she is representing a charity make it worse, as she will give the charity / organisation a bad name, too.

In relation to the specifics:

1. Don't wait. If she not there on time (or within a reasonable time - I would probably give a lee-way of up to 5 mins) leave.

2. Say no. In the video example, after the first day I'd have been saying, "I'm sorry, I have donated a full day of my time to your charity at your request. A job of this size would normally take no more than a day, usually less. I am not in a position to donate any more of my time and resources. I would be happy to do further work on a business basis if you want. These are my rates". And if she got aggressive I would write to the director of the charity, or the organisation running it, to let them know how their representative has behaved and that she is bringing the organisation into disrepute. (and making clear that you could have done what you weer asked to do, in the time allowed, if she had not been so indecisive)

3. Don't chase. If you are doing her a favour, do it when it is convenient to you. IF she asks you to drop stuff off, it's fine to say "I can do that at 6 tonight, or at 10 tomorrow,. Which do you prefer" if those times don't work you say "I'm sorry, I won't be able to drop them off. You can pick them up from me - on (give 2 or three possible times)

In the specific case you mentioned, don't feel bad. SHE is the one letting down the people expecting these items, not you.

As you say you like her, you couls consider whether it is possible for you to say to her that while you like her a lot, and support the charity, people do expect a more porofessional approach and her behavior is not helping the charity.

WIth the lateness, if there is a genuine emergency (someone who is suicidal / has just lost a loved one etc) then she ought to be able to phone or text to tell you she's been delayed. If you speak to her, you can gently point out that by not showing up when she says, she is sendig you a message that you are unimportant, and that she has no respect for you, and places a very low value on you and your contribution, and that is hurtful and unkind (and unchristian) If she prides herself on being a caring, christian person then pointing out that she is being uncaring towards you and others may help her to understand, and, if her curent behavior is down to clulessness rather than self-centeredness may help her to change.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: MrTango on June 27, 2013, 07:50:46 AM
I agree that her behavior reeks of entitlement.

Here's how I would respond to the examples given:
1) Lateness:  If she was more than 10 minutes late, I would just assume that she wasn't coming and continue with my plans for the day.

2) The Video: I would have handed her the raw video at the end of the 1 day to which I had already committed.  I would have told her that any further time would be billed at my normal rate.

3) I would make one phone call to her and if she didn't answer, I would leave one voicemail and include a notice that if I didn't her from her by a certain time (I'd give 24 or 48 hours), it would be her responsibility to contact me.  If she answered by hemmed and hawed about timing, I would say "In that case, you'll need to call me back by this time tomorrow and let me know a time that works for you.  Otherwise, It'll be on you to pick the item up from me" and end the call.  If she's late calling me back or she's a no-show at the arranged drop off/pick up time, see item 1.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: TootsNYC on June 27, 2013, 07:56:19 AM
Here is your clue to her thinking

Quote
Her reasoning is that somebody else needed her (to lend an ear, practical support, whatever) and as a good Christian it was more important she responded to them than kept our appointment.


She values "giving and serving" above all, and like *many many* people, she expects other people to share her values.

This is not an appropriate attitude.

Yes, she is rude.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: PlainJane on June 27, 2013, 08:07:24 AM
By being late and by 'requiring' you to repeatedly contact her, she is stealing your time.

Stealing. As a Christian woman, she should know stealing is one of the Big Ten.

Maybe you should remind her?  ;)
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: KarenK on June 27, 2013, 08:12:55 AM
1. Lateness - I'm with everyone else. Give her five minutes (10 if you have a good book with you), then leave. I would not tolerate being kept waiting for 30-45 minutes.

2. Video guy - Well, the next time, she'll have to find someone else to sucker, because this guy won't be doing any more work for her anytime soon!

3. Finally, the favor - I would not chase her if she asked me to do her a favor.

This kind of person burns through contacts and friends, as each decides they are through with her. She then moves on to the next one, burns them out, and so on.

Yeah, rude all around.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: Thipu1 on June 27, 2013, 08:48:45 AM
Here is your clue to her thinking

Quote
Her reasoning is that somebody else needed her (to lend an ear, practical support, whatever) and as a good Christian it was more important she responded to them than kept our appointment.


She values "giving and serving" above all, and like *many many* people, she expects other people to share her values.

This is not an appropriate attitude.

Yes, she is rude.

The 'giving and serving' attitude is all too common among non-professionals who run charities.  The problem is that everyone else should be the ones doing the giving and serving. 

The one who is in charge becomes a little tin god who, as the representative of the organization, must be made to look good by the people who are actually doing the work.  Money, time and expertise provided by other volunteers are only to be expected for the good of the organization. 

The lady in question needs a wake-up call. 

She must be punctual for meetings.  The time of others is as important as her time.  If meetings go on without her, she may learn that she isn't as vital to the success of the charity as she thinks.  Good work CAN go on without her. 

Requests to volunteers must be reasonable and the extent of the duties must be clear from the outset.  You don't ask a skilled volunteer to give up days of what could be paid work for a whim. 

It's often been said here that respect works both ways.  The lady in question is not being respectful of other volunteers.  They are doing work to help the charity.  They are not doing work to groom her image in the community. 

These suggestions may sound harsh but these issues need to be addressed.

Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: GreenBird on June 27, 2013, 11:12:36 AM
Similar to the other posters, I'd stop waiting for her and stop chasing her.  Her attitude clearly shows that what she's doing isn't about charity, it's about her.  I'd leave her one message giving her a time when she can pick up the items you have for her, and if she doesn't pick them up then it's her problem. 

If you want to continue to work with this particular charity, is there someone else you could work with?  I wouldn't be shy about telling the charity you'd like to work with someone who is more reliable, because it's just too frustrating to work with someone who doesn't show up when she says she will, isn't organized enough to clearly know what she wants, and doesn't follow through on her commitments.  Volunteer time is a precious commodity, and the charity should really know how much of it she wastes. 
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: Winterlight on June 27, 2013, 11:15:13 AM
My father runs a small charity and he would run over his own foot before he'd behave like this.

I expect donations to start tanking- there are a lot of other organizations out there who handle things professionally.

Quote
Her reasoning is that somebody else needed her (to lend an ear, practical support, whatever) and as a good Christian it was more important she responded to them than kept our appointment.

Yeah, no. If she can't be bothered to show up on time without a text or call, forget it. And even texting or calling wouldn't work if she makes a habit of this, because she's still leaving the people who made an appointment with her hanging. She's not a neurosurgeon who's had an emergency come in, thereby having to bump some scheduled patients. She's just not willing to be where she agreed to be.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: LadyL on June 27, 2013, 11:20:58 AM
 Unfortunately due to the usually low pay and long hours of nonprofit work it can attract some people whose competence is far outpaced by their martyr complex. I would not personally be involved with this group at all.

I encountered a similar group in my city - they promote a cause I believe strongly in. However, the leader is more interested in creating a "cult of personality" around herself than actually collaborating with community members or getting anything done. We brought her some proposals that the rest of her staff liked and voted to move forward on, but she clearly was bothered that they weren't *her* ideas. She did the same thing to a member of a collaborating organization who also successfully pitched a great idea - she killed it for no reason other than it wasn't hers. A year later, she is still having "open calls for proposals" but they haven't picked one and probably never will.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: m2kbug on June 27, 2013, 11:39:55 AM
Definitely don't wait for her anymore.  I would not wait around for that long, not repeatedly, anyway.  I think I would refrain from any further appointments at all with this person if that is at all possible.   

Don't agree to any more favors.  I think if it was a matter of her needing certain items, she can stop by the house herself, and I could leave the items on the porch for her if necessary, but that's about the extent I'd go at this point. 

For the video, she was asking for way too much.  He agreed to one day's time, not three, and not all the extra editing.  Surely the charity could have come up with some compensation.  He'll have to be more clear and direct on what he is willing to do and how much time in the future, if he chooses to work with this charity again.  He could charge a fee, maybe give a generous discount, whatever is comfortable him. 

I agree, that perhaps you might need to talk to someone at the charity about working with someone a little more reliable.  It's great she wants to help out, but she's maybe not the best suited for certain things. 

It annoys me to no end when people pull the Christian card as some excuse for bad behavior. 
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: oogyda on June 27, 2013, 12:10:43 PM
Unfortunately due to the usually low pay and long hours of nonprofit work it can attract some people whose competence is far outpaced by their martyr complex. I would not personally be involved with this group at all.

 

*Snerk*  I know some of these people.  Can I use that phrase?
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: bopper on June 27, 2013, 12:16:31 PM
Gotta say that this is not a new thing:


Matthew 23:4 regarding the Pharisees:

So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them."Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments lon
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: Pen^2 on June 27, 2013, 12:23:02 PM
It strikes me, though, that some of her behaviour is quite rude or inconsiderate - and etiquette-wise, the fact that you're representing a Christian charity/organisation isn't an excuse, is it? Just interested!

She is rude, entitled, and a hypocrite. And representing an organisation associated with morals (religious or charity) is not an excuse for bad and thoughtless behaviour, but the opposite! She has a much stronger reason than others to be polite and kind. To do otherwise reflects badly on her entire organisation.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: LadyL on June 27, 2013, 01:31:45 PM
Unfortunately due to the usually low pay and long hours of nonprofit work it can attract some people whose competence is far outpaced by their martyr complex. I would not personally be involved with this group at all.

 

*Snerk*  I know some of these people.  Can I use that phrase?

Certainly!
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: cwm on June 27, 2013, 01:53:42 PM
1. I'd wait. But I'd make sure I had a good book with me, and when she showed up, I'd make sure to finish the chapter before we got started. If she asked what I was doing, I'd respond with "Oh, I'm sorry, I just got caught up, I can't stand to put a good book down at an unnatural stopping point. I figured since we were already late, a few more minutes couldn't hurt."

Okay, so I probably wouldn't actually do that, but it's good to think about, right?

2. Congrats to the video guy for standing up for his time. I've seen friends burned too many times by volunteering for work and then it turns into much more than they bargained for.

3. Try three times to get something to her. Make an honest effort those three times. Past that, if she wants it, she'll get back with you.

If you're on good enough terms with this person, I would take them aisde and mention that her lack of punctuality and the difficulty involved in getting things to her are really hindering your involvement in the charity. Don't bring anyone else into it, keep it strictly about YOUR involvement.

If you're not on good enough terms for that, find someone above her in the organization. Maybe a regional director or something, and bring up your concerns to that person. Again, keep it about your involvement, but also mention that it may not be projecting the best image of charity into the community, and while you support what they do, you can't support that woman being in charge because of the issues you're having.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: FauxFoodist on June 27, 2013, 02:13:33 PM
She's a total SS; it has nothing to do with the charity or doing things in the name of the charity.  She's acting entitled for <insert reason here> and trying to get away with it for those reasons.  I've encountered people like that before; I ignore their "reasoning" and address the actual issue (the reasoning is a red herring anyway).  I once belonged to a school club that reserved the student body community room at a specific time.  Another club had reserved it for the time right before ours.  When my club was going to meet, the other club was still present and holding their meeting.  We were ignoring their continued presence at first, to be nice.  However, when they started getting louder and overtaking in sound our club (which was a social club), we told them they needed to hit the road.  Their response?  "We are trying to set up efforts for such-and-such charity!"  My friend then said, "That's nice.  However, this is OUR meeting time now, and you still need to leave."  I think we got the glare, but they picked up and left.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: EllenS on June 27, 2013, 03:18:09 PM
Now, that's a new one to me.  I have actually never heard of a Special Snowflake organizing a whole charity just to empower her Snowflakity.

If you really want to support the mission of the charity, I would give every dealing with her a limit, up front.

"I have your stuff, it will be at the front desk until Friday.  We are open 8-5."
"I can bring those items you requested any morning this week between 9-11, but after this week I will have to give them away to the next charity that wants them.  Call me and let me know what day to drop them off."

After she misses out a few times, she will either start respecting your limits or (more likely) stop asking you for favors.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: blarg314 on June 27, 2013, 07:43:03 PM
Here is your clue to her thinking

Quote
Her reasoning is that somebody else needed her (to lend an ear, practical support, whatever) and as a good Christian it was more important she responded to them than kept our appointment.


She values "giving and serving" above all, and like *many many* people, she expects other people to share her values.

The other problem is that *she* gets to define "giving and serving" so that it benefits her (and her pet cause) at the expense of others. She "has" to help somone when the ask, but it doesn't matter that she's wasting another person's time.

From a practical perspective, your options are

1) Leave when she's late, or refuse to meet her in a situation that inconveniences you if she's late. You can also leave halfway through the meeting saying "Oh, I only had half an hour to spare - it would be horribly rude to leave my next appointment waiting!"  Make it her problem, not yours.

2) Decide how much time you're going to spend doing X task. When that time is up, you stop, turn the material over to her and tell her that you don't have any more time/resources to work more on it. Be realistic about how long a task takes when you agree to do it, but if it's extended by her demands or pickiness, it gets left undone. Again, make it her problem.

3) Make a reasonable effort to complete the favour. Then dump the ball in her lap - leave a message saying "I've tried to contact you about X, but couldn't get hold of you. You can pick up Y at my house." or simply stop trying to contact her after a reasonable attempt, and leave it. If she wants it, she'll step up. Again, her problem, not yours.

These tactics may well mean that sometimes something doesn't get done, or gets done badly. But that's the price you have to pay for not being controlled by her demands. If someone comes after you about something they're unhappy about, you can say "Oh, you'll have to talk to SS about that!"


 
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: LifeOnPluto on June 27, 2013, 10:13:54 PM
With the second example, I'd be inclined to pull her expectations into line. I'd say something like "Rude Charity Lady, don't be ridiculous. Video Guy has a business to run. If we ask him for two extra days' unpaid work, that's two extra days that he can't earn money to support himself (and his family, if he has one). We're effectively stealing his services. Surely you can't be advocating that?"
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: Sparkle Star on June 28, 2013, 06:09:32 AM
I've really enjoyed reading all your replies, folks - thank you!

I was interested to get views because I think - especially in the UK - we tend to excuse or feel uncomfortable about addressing 'bad' behaviour when it involves a charitable/religious cause. It makes us feel like we're not being gracious or understanding.

I think Toots was spot on with this: She values "giving and serving" above all, and like *many many* people, she expects other people to share her values.

She genuinely is a good and giving person and her faith is everything to her. However, I suspect that part of her Pollyanna attitude is put on because it helps her get what she wants, and I also don't feel that what she's doing entitles her to be inconsiderate to everyone else's needs or lives.

As I say, I am learning to deal with her - and I'm lucky in that my involvement is quite peripheral so I feel I can step away somewhat if I need to.

But some great suggestions in there for handling the specifics, too....much appreciated!  :)
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: whatsanenigma on June 28, 2013, 07:26:52 AM
I've really enjoyed reading all your replies, folks - thank you!

I was interested to get views because I think - especially in the UK - we tend to excuse or feel uncomfortable about addressing 'bad' behaviour when it involves a charitable/religious cause. It makes us feel like we're not being gracious or understanding.

I think Toots was spot on with this: She values "giving and serving" above all, and like *many many* people, she expects other people to share her values.

She genuinely is a good and giving person and her faith is everything to her. However, I suspect that part of her Pollyanna attitude is put on because it helps her get what she wants, and I also don't feel that what she's doing entitles her to be inconsiderate to everyone else's needs or lives.

I think maybe part of the problem is that she's trying to "give and serve" in too many ways at the same time, and possibly in ways not suited to her.

There is most certainly a real need for people to "give and serve" when a sudden crisis arises.  Whole phone hotlines exist for this.  It isn't something everybody can or should try to do, and it sounds like she happens to be good at this.

However, there is also a real need for people to "give and serve" by being steady members of the background, who aren't constantly distracted by solving other people's sudden problems.  There is a great need for people to organize events, manage money, etc., for the organizations that support the people who help in a crisis.

Unless time frames are clearly defined, when a person is "on call", it is very difficult to combine these roles.  I think that by trying to do both in such an undefined way, she is neglecting both of these things.  I think she might need to focus on just one or the other.

And that could be a selling point for her.  If someone tells her how good she is at dealing with crises, and that she can leave the organizational stuff to someone else, that might help, because I don't think she's very good at the latter but might have a gift for the former.
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: EllenS on June 28, 2013, 10:20:48 AM
Look, I get that you feel guilty setting boundaries with this lady.  So does everyone else.  But, as a deeply religious person myself, this woman is violating many, many tenets of most major religions in the way she is treating people.  I don't know what religious tradition you belong to, but most have common ground on these things.

1) Treat everyone with respect, and love/generosity means putting others needs ahead of your own.  HER time is hers to give to the "needy", but YOUR time is not.  By trying to make YOU wait, she is being selfish.

2) Taking/stealing from others is not holy, generous or sacrificial.  It is wrong.  Even King David refused to give an offering that he did not pay for. (See 1 Chronicles 21:24 )

3) People who do honest work deserve to be paid for it.  1 Timothy 5:18 (the worker deserves his wages)

4) If you make an agreement, honor it.  Don't attempt to change the terms of the deal to suit yourself. (Let your yes be yes, and your no be no/use honest weights and measures)

5) Don't manipulate, bully or intimidate people into doing what you want. Attributes such as "discord, fits of rage, hypocrisy, slander, deceit and accusations" are not holy behavior, but the opposite.  Gentleness, respect, thougtfulness, orderliness, and self-discipline are the goal of religious service.

Hugs, I know my quotes might not be directly applicable to your situation but they are the most accessible ones I have, and I don't think they are controversial?
Title: Re: Charitable Attitude
Post by: Twik on June 28, 2013, 10:32:27 AM
If her only failing was (1) I would try to be understanding. People in her situation often do find themselves confronted by people with terrible problems, and going "sorry, I have a 10 am meeting, must go," will sound like a brushoff to them.

However, in combination with the other factors, it does sound like she expects the world to dance to her tune.