DEAR HARRIETTE: A guy who went to college with me has kept in touch over the years, always asking me to do him favors -- for free -- for his various business ideas that he is building in order to make a profit. When he first started with his requests, I tried to comply to be nice. While we were not close in college, I did know him. I figured it’s collegial to help each other out. But his requests typically come with great urgency and absolutely never with a paycheck.
He has worked on all kinds of things -- many that have been profitable. Once I told him I would help if he hired me. I put together a proposal, but nothing came of it. I think he was offended that I wanted to be paid. He has come back to ask me to do something else for him. It wouldn't take that long, but I already have other favors that I’m doing for people that have been postponed because of my work schedule. How do I manage this man’s constant requests? He is always taking, never giving. But he’s so smooth in his requests that I seem to agree to do what he wants without evening realizing it. -- Beware the Leech, Wilmington, Delaware
DEAR BEWARE THE LEECH: It sounds like this guy puts you under a spell, so to speak, and when you wake up later, you’ve been duped. Rather than feeling like you must fulfill whatever he has asked of you when you realize that he has pulled a fast one again, evaluate what you have agreed to do. If you don’t want to do it or don’t have time, tell him. In this case, you can let him know via email that you cannot get to his project until you have fulfilled your work obligations and the other favors that are you your list. Let him know plainly that you have put him in a queue, and you will get to it when you can. If he cannot live with your revised timeline, apologize for not being able to comply and suggest that he ask someone else to do it.