Discussion How to deal with people that don't want to read instructions?

ibex333

Diamond Member
Mar 26, 2005
3,986
68
91
In general, how would YOU deal with someone who refuses to read simple instructions, instead preferring to keep calling you and asking you to just do their work for them?

This is in a work/business setting, so I cant just tell the person to GFYS.

Its not some sort of a joke or a troll post. I'm absolutely serious. I'm curious how someone who is not "soft" or "shy" like me would handle such a situation.

If I tell the person to just go read the damn instruction, they will complain to my boss and I will be in trouble, because the boss would rather appease the person in question any way she can as opposed to taking my side, even though I really am not supposed to do this person job for them. It is their job and responsibility to read instructions and train themselves to preform a certain simple task.

It's not that he/she cannot do it. Its that they simply don't want to. Its just much easer to call me and keep asking me to do everything instead.

I'm sure such situations arise pretty often for other folks and Id like to know how others handle such things.
 

nakedfrog

No Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
53,765
6,262
126
Diplomatically explain to your boss/their boss that it's interfering with you performing your normal work functions in a timely fashion?
 

Stiff Clamp

Senior member
Feb 3, 2021
431
115
76
Hey you're a good team player!

Just sigh. and say "hope you get this figured out soon."
 

dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
23,820
1,997
126
1) Communicate. Tell the person how you are impacted by this behavior. Don't say "You always want me to do your work." as that puts that person immediately on the defense. Instead say "I am overwhelmed at the moment and I need to focus on ___". Or say, "I am worried that my instructions were not clear, how can I write them better?" Or something similar based around you and what you need to do. In fact, the more you can avoid using the word "you" in the conversation the better it will go. The same advice works for dating and marriage and kids and just about anything.

2) Communicate. Talk to your boss about priorities. Are you supposed to be working on your tasks and your goals, or doing the other person's tasks? Let your boss decide. Then you can please your boss with whatever you do. Remember, you have one and only one job: to make your boss look good. Focus on that. Nothing in your job description matters in real life.

3) Communicate. It is okay to say no. They respect you more for that.
 

highland145

Lifer
Oct 12, 2009
42,468
4,915
136
Erroneously explain the job to them. Very erroneously.

And then claim ignorance about their work/job.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
15,688
6,664
146
There are a number of (long-term) users here who post the most simple questions in the tech areas, which take more time than simply Googling the question.

from what I've observed over the years, most seem at least moderately intelligent, so from my perspective, they're simply lazy and/or need their hand held in anything they do in life.

And I hate to break it to you, it appears these are the type of people you can never wean off of asking others instead of taking the initiative themselves.
 

interchange

Diamond Member
Oct 10, 1999
7,783
2,456
136
Maybe people asking you for help are feeling lonely and inadequate and are needing something other than what's covered by the manual.
 

snoopy7548

Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2005
7,218
4,065
136
Sounds like this person is a good fit for management. :p

But seriously, don't be surprised if they're the boss one day.

Train the person the best you can so they become self-sufficient, or point them in someone else's direction.
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
51,747
4,205
126
I'd probably look for another job because that would mean that I work with some really stupid and lazy people, neither of which I prefer to work with. I like working with high performers who are motivated to learn.

It's funny you mention this because literally today I was finishing up a small 2 or so day task of documenting the whole pipeline for this process that spans across multiple applications to go from the beginning to end. Myself and one other person are the only ones who can do the first 75% of the pipeline and someone else knows the last 25%. The people who is in charge of this whole process wanted us to do this so that anyone can read the documentation and they aren't just relying on us to be the only ones who can do this because they know that it's not realistic to expect us to always be available to work on it.

Now it's basically a confluence page of "how to do the pipeline for dummies" and anyone who has zero knowledge of the entire thing could come in and do it all.
 

pcgeek11

Lifer
Jun 12, 2005
19,030
2,597
126
You could ignore that person and allow them to stand on their own two feet. Why is it your job to do their job? That makes no sense.

There is a big difference between asking for occasional assistance and being a pest.
 
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[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
10,334
6,978
146
I get aggressively passive-aggressive. Reply with the original instructions attached, ccing their boss, my boss, and anyone else I'd like to see the chain.
 
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Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,216
5,100
126
In general, how would YOU deal with someone who refuses to read simple instructions, instead preferring to keep calling you and asking you to just do their work for them?

This is in a work/business setting, so I cant just tell the person to GFYS.

Its not some sort of a joke or a troll post. I'm absolutely serious. I'm curious how someone who is not "soft" or "shy" like me would handle such a situation.

If I tell the person to just go read the damn instruction, they will complain to my boss and I will be in trouble, because the boss would rather appease the person in question any way she can as opposed to taking my side, even though I really am not supposed to do this person job for them. It is their job and responsibility to read instructions and train themselves to preform a certain simple task.

It's not that he/she cannot do it. Its that they simply don't want to. Its just much easer to call me and keep asking me to do everything instead.

I'm sure such situations arise pretty often for other folks and Id like to know how others handle such things.
I think what I'd do is tell them enough to guide them to a better place but not tell them everything, leave them sensing that to really find out what's up they have to RTFM. That way you won't get in trouble (if you straddle that line effectively), you retain your pride and you can actually have fun doing it all, which is the best part.
 

olds

Elite Member
Mar 3, 2000
49,924
623
126
Manuals are usually written by SMEs. Since they are experts, they can write at too high a level and assume the reader has more knowledge than they obviously have on the subject. This in turn to a layman may be hard to follow.

Sometimes it's time savings to ask the SME.

Sometimes the user doesn't know where to find the information or how to interpret it.

What I taught my people was to not answer the question directly (unless it was an emergency). Tell the user where to find the information and then walk them through it while the user is looking at the same information/manual that they are. With some users you may need to be a little condescending but that takes walking a fine line.
 
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