I know what you mean. Having been at this job a while, and being willing to "experiment" with stuff on the computer, I often get asked questions by people who are less willing to experiment--they just want to know what exact button to push, or exactly how to do something. I don't think that's necessarily bad, it's more of a different mindset, as I'm sure there are things they're better with that I don't like, like some of the hands-on stuff we do. But sometimes it's difficult because the answer is, there is
no step-by-step way to do this, you have to look at your data and decide what methods are best for it. And people often don't like that answer, and will keep coming back to ask me the same thing in different ways, trying to get a different answer.
As a generally helpful person, I have to make sure that I don't get taken advantage of and start to resent helping people. So one of my rules is, I try really hard to not
get out of my chair. Because people always want me to get up and come to their computer and see what's going on, and then fix it for them; so I stay firmly seated and make them describe the problem, then I give them a suggestion for it. That way the actual application of the solution is up to them, and if it doesn't work they have to get up and come get me again, which might encourage them to figure it out on their own instead.
Plus, having to explain it to me verbally forces them to observe the problem better, which can help suggest solutions. Like, one of the interns came up to me and said she was having trouble with this Excel file because it looked "weird." That's all she kept saying, it looks weird
. I wouldn't get out of my seat to look, so finally she was forced to explain what she was seeing, and it turned out to be something very simple--like you have to "paste special" instead of just paste, to avoid wonky formatting. So she learned about a new function in Excel, instead of getting me to just fix it for her.
And, I do find myself saying things like, "I think there's a protocol for that. Did you check in the XYZ binder?" or, "You know, I think you can look that up at the ABC website." Okay, probably if it was a short answer I knew off the top of my head I would just say it, but if *I* would be looking it up to answer, they
might as well look it up. Or if they ask me the same question twice, I'll say, "You've asked that before; why don't you write yourself a note about it, so you can just look at it later?" I don't think it's being unhelpful or unfriendly to encourage people to find answers themselves, and take ownership of information they need (like by making their own notes). I think it's actually a really good skill to learn for the long-term.
Finally, a relevant story.
I was working as an intern at a lab and had been there about six months. We got a new intern who was rather a know-it-all, despite not having any experience in this field. But obviously her opinion/thoughts on a subject were the more correct and logical, and thus should be universal.
She was washing dishes one day and got frustrated because this big crate we kept in the sink was getting in her way. She said to me, "Why do we have this crate here?" I said, "It's to hold the bin where we wash small stuff. I don't think we're supposed to move it." She clearly didn't like this answer, and when our supervisor walked into the room a moment later, she asked her, right in front of me, "Why do we have this crate here?" To which the supervisor replied, "It's to hold the bin where we wash small stuff. Don't move it."