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Researcher Allows Annoying Ph.D. Student To Set Herself Up For Failure Before Committee Meeting
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Researcher Allows Annoying Ph.D. Student To Set Herself Up For Failure Before Committee Meeting

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There’s nothing wrong with asking your colleagues for help. That’s one of the benefits of working with other people — you can share knowledge and foster a collaborative environment that promotes learning and professional growth.

So when Reddit user Incandescent-aioli, who works in academic research, was approached by one of their teammates asking to fix her code, they happily obliged.

However, the woman wasn’t happy that they over-delivered and was too stubborn to see that her script needed the extra touch. So Incandescent-aioli allowed her to set herself up for failure at the upcoming committee meeting.

Continue scrolling to read their post on the subreddit ‘Malicious Compliance‘ to learn how it all unfolded.

This person went above and beyond to help a Ph.D. student fix her code before an important committee meeting

Image credits: Árpád Czapp (not the actual photo)

But she didn’t like that they over-delivered

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Image credits: Incandescent-aioli

Image credits: Zhivko Minkov (not the actual photo)

Instead of using our coworkers, we benefit more from getting along with them

According to leadership expert Scott Steinberg, generally, when colleagues ask you for help, it’s a compliment. Most likely, they consider you to be good at the job.

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But as this story shows, exceling at it can be a blessing and a curse. So you need to learn how to establish and enforce boundaries in order not to get taken advantage of.

“Doing so doesn’t always come naturally to those of us who aim to please and be liked,” Steinberg wrote. “Certainly, we all want to help our colleagues out. But it’s important to remember that we are all operating with limited time and resources. Actively encouraging peers to be more proactive is a must in the modern working world, especially if you’re playing with a tight schedule.”

Before telling them ‘no’, you can still offer the coworker some guidance by asking them questions such as:

  • Have you tried X/Y/Z, by chance? (Googling it, checking this market research report, checking in with the IT, team, etc.)
  • What do you think the best solution is? (You might offer additional prompts as needed, including, “Is this something HR might be able to help out with,” or “You might find answers to this on our online employee learning portal”)
  • Have you tried running it by [insert individual, department, or team name here] yet?
  • What is the client/team suggesting?

I hope it goes without saying that you shouldn’t rely on manipulating your colleagues in order to get through your own assignments. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota confirmed that close friendships increase workplace productivity, mainly because buddies are more committed, communicate better, and encourage each other. Plus, according to a global study by the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), interpersonal work relationships have a sizeable and significant positive effect on job satisfaction of the average employee as a whole, as relationships rank first out of 12 domains of workplace quality.

So it’s in your own best interest not to annoy everyone around you. Hopefully, the Ph.D. student will soon realize this.

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Image credits: Redd F (not the actual photo)

As their story went viral, the original poster (OP) joined the discussion it started

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annaannabb avatar
AnnaB
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Why would you spend four hours correcting her code? Especially for something as important as PHD work? If she can't manage it herself, she doesn't deserve the doctorate.

mralt avatar
MR
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

These are students. Doing the work for them is problematic. And when grades are involved, touching someone else's work is especially troublesome. I appreciate that OP is just trying to be helpful, but in this situation, you call out that the output looks wrong, potentially point out the problem section, and move on. You don't re-write it for them. Even when they appreciate the assistance, they don't learn anything from it beyond they did it wrong. At most, you offer to help or walk them through it.

pennylost avatar
Lost Penny
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

So you were supposed to fix 1 single line that had to do with colours, and instead, you'd written an entirely different work? Without even contacting her & letting her know what was going on? And then SHE is the horrible and entitled one who didn't even thank you? My dude, you're so full of it!

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annaannabb avatar
AnnaB
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Why would you spend four hours correcting her code? Especially for something as important as PHD work? If she can't manage it herself, she doesn't deserve the doctorate.

mralt avatar
MR
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

These are students. Doing the work for them is problematic. And when grades are involved, touching someone else's work is especially troublesome. I appreciate that OP is just trying to be helpful, but in this situation, you call out that the output looks wrong, potentially point out the problem section, and move on. You don't re-write it for them. Even when they appreciate the assistance, they don't learn anything from it beyond they did it wrong. At most, you offer to help or walk them through it.

pennylost avatar
Lost Penny
Community Member
2 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

So you were supposed to fix 1 single line that had to do with colours, and instead, you'd written an entirely different work? Without even contacting her & letting her know what was going on? And then SHE is the horrible and entitled one who didn't even thank you? My dude, you're so full of it!

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