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Alan Hylands
Alan Hylands

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

How To Deal With The Urgent! Urgent! Urgent! Boy Who Cried Wolf

I’ve covered this one off at length in another article including how to try and fix the noxious behaviour but it really never ceases to grind my gears.

I call these customers Mr./Ms. Urgent! Urgent! Urgent! as every work request that comes in from them has this in the Email Subject line.

You'll know these people because they pull the same stunts over and over and over again.

See how many of these warning signs you recognise:

  • Unrealistic “deadlines” that are nothing of the sort (note to all: ASAP is NOT a date).
  • The name dropping of company big hitters in a game of Top Trumps with ever increasing stakes to force the request to the top of the queue.
  • The complete inability to see that just because they want something done right now there might be other wider priorities for the business as a whole which have to take priority.
  • Running to your own manager to tattle tale when you don’t do what they want.
  • Ignoring your very detailed explanations of how a work reception process actually works.
  • Promising this time will be the last time, apologising for putting you in such a position then doing the exact same thing a week or two later.

If it’s all starting to sound like an abusive relationship that’s because it is.

It’s a form of mental abuse, often going hand in hand with gaslighting (“I never said that”, ”that’s not what we agreed on the phone”,”I thought you said…” etc. etc.) and is a terrible situation to be put in regardless of being paid to do it or not.

I did cover some strategies and tactics for working the situation out in my Urgent!Urgent!Urgent! article but it doesn’t stop it being a mental drain every time it happens.

Some top tips to survive:

  • Recognise how harmful dealing with this behaviour is to you and realise you don’t have to keep putting up with it.
  • Don’t be afraid to push back, assertiveness is a learned skill for introverts and extroverts so build that muscle through practice.
  • Formalise and enforce a process to alleviate the worst excesses of the behaviour.If you can force the offender down a pre-defined path with barriers on either side to restrict their rule breaking then you can start to manage the situation better.
  • Tell them how their behaviour is impacting everyone else.Yes, this could invoke further confrontation especially if the person has some sociopathic tendencies (and we all know people like that) but if done in a professional, non-confrontational manner it might help alleviate the built-up rage you are feeling.
  • If all else fails, grass them up. I know snitches wind up in ditches and all the rest of the street warnings but if this behaviour is causing you enough mental anguish over a prolonged period of time, please tell your manager.

It’s their job to protect their analyst crew. If they don’t then there are more serious problems with your position and you need to find that out sharpish.

Your health comes first. Always.

However this problem is manifesting itself, always remember to put your own mental and physical health at the top of your priority list.

I don’t care where you work or how integral you feel to the overall system. No-one is irreplaceable in any business but your health is. Don’t waste it on people who don’t deserve it.

They sure don’t tell you about this side of things in the Data Analyst finishing school but they damn well should.

I can feel my blood pressure rising just writing about this subject, not good.


Top comments (3)

helenanders26 profile image
Helen Anderson

The name dropping and the one day turn around is the worst. It’s a risky move pushing back, because they are guaranteed to go running to their manager, but not doing the work until it reaches the top of the backlog is the only way I’ve found to manage these requests.

How do you then stop the internal battle of needing to get everything done no matter how late you stay and how much you know you shouldn’t turn the world upside down again?

alanhylands profile image
Alan Hylands

For me,the name dropping and running to your manager behind your back are the two worst things they can do. It shows a fundamental disregard for anyone other than themselves right in that moment and it grinds my gears like nothing else.

Standing firm on why you can't (and won't) just drop everything is the only way to go. Melt and capitulate and you've set the scene for every repeat encounter in future.

The only problem with this approach is having a manager who disrespects you and your team's process as well and doesn't back you. I've been lucky in this regard for the majority of my data career but I can see how it could easily go very wrong if you don't have that level of air cover above you.

helenanders26 profile image
Helen Anderson

It’s good to know I’m not the only one struggling with this :)

Having a manager who understands and has got your back is so important. I’m lucky to have that now because the opposite is really soul destroying. I’ve had managers who would tell me to be more flexible when I pushed back. That doesn’t help anyone.

Thank you for writing this up, I’m looking forward to your next post