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the friendly guy August 7, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Staff.
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Photo used under CC license; by Randy Stewart (blog.stewtopia.com).

Photo used under CC license; by Randy Stewart (blog.stewtopia.com).

The Friendly Guy. Everyone knows him because he’s always got a smile and a kind word for you, and the person in the next cubicle, and the person in the cubicle after that, and so on. One wonders how he actually accomplishes any work, because he’s so busy greeting you and asking about your family.

But woe betide the person who gets on the Friendly Guy’s bad side. Because oh boy does he ever have one. It’ll start with criticisms couched as questions — “why are we doing it this way? Have we considered doing it this other way? Why did we change from the way we used to do it?” He’ll have plenty of suggestions, and some of them will be good ones. But the problem is that the corporate office has made the decision well above your level of responsibility.

That won’t matter to the Friendly Guy. You’re the manager he sees, so you’re the person who gets the suggestions.

You’re also the person he comes back to, every couple of days, as the questions get incrementally more acid in tone — “why haven’t we made this change? Who can I talk to about this? Whose idea was this, anyway?” Now, you’re not the Friendly Guy’s manager, but he keeps coming to you no matter how many times you tell him it’s out of your hands. Eventually he’ll go to either your manager or his own manager, and one way or another, a compromise will be reached allowing him to get what he wants if you’ll only spend two days figuring out not only how to do it but also how to make it work inside your corporate framework.

You can’t get mad at the Friendly Guy, though. Just try complaining about him to… well, to anyone. “Friendly Guy?” your co-workers will say. “But he’s so friendly! He never gets mad, he always gets his work done, and he makes time to help out with his Charity of Choice. It must be you.”

But there is an upside to Friendly Guy — once you’ve solved his problems, he becomes friendly to you again, as if there was never a problem in the first place.

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