Recently I was asked by a colleague to plug-in the water bottle to the water dispenser, which requires muscle power I have and they do not.

This person didn't say "Please", "Could you", "Can you give me a helping hand" or anything like that. So, I didn't care for the request at all. I don't need something like "Hey muscle power, hey big guy", just please is enough.

So is that an ethic line or possibly gender discrimination?

Rejecting the helping hand support since it's not under my roles and responsibilities, so they had to walk downstairs to drink water.


I also need to mention that this is not the first time this person has been rude to me, and I actually hate their presence. I just need to win their respect professionally. I Need to know what are my options to have the career development whilst using the option to stay silent.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jane S
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 11:25

2 Answers 2


Some people have a way of being bossy without realizing it. And some things need to be done, and someone needs to do them. It's not about her going downstairs to drink, it's about the water fountain getting filled, which is for everyone.

If she didn't say please you could have replaced the bottle and concluded with You're welcome! to show that some social boilerplate was expected.

Not sure how this ties to her having a boyfriend though. I think something is lost in translation between cultural barriers and a bad example.

edit: There's also the attitude described by the phrase: Everyone sweeps the floor. This means it doesn't matter how (un)important you are, if you see something that needs fixing, it's your job to fix it. Be it floor sweeping, moving a piece of trash to the bin or, indeed, refilling the water dispenser. This is a good attitude to have regardless of how bossy your colleagues might be.

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    If you're not part of the solution... Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 10:08
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    @PhilipKendall ...then you're part of the precipitate Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 12:30
  • Your welcome is the answer. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 6:05
  • Argue and going to the second stage is not recommended in a workplace, since you are trying to career development. Simple "your welcome" is the keyword in a situation like this. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 6:07

Rejecting to help someone with a simple task he/she needs help with has nothing to do with gender. It is just bad manners!

If you reject it on the grounds she has a boyfriend, you make it about gender. That is even worse manners!

Btw: It is wildly unprofessional to refuse sporadic tasks because they "are not under my roles and responsibilities". Such attitude can get you into trouble almost anywhere I ever worked.

After your Edit: Yes, even if you don't like a colleague, you should still help them replace the water bottle if he/she can not do it on her own. If said college is rude to you, you should call her out on that behavior and try to get to a healthy professional kindness in your mutual communication. You may have inadvertently offended her in the past, apologize, even if you don't see it.

Try something like this: "Hey, sure I'll give you a hand with the water bottle. But hey, can you do me a favor too? If feel your communication towards me is sometimes a bit hostile. Can we maybe find out why that is and fix it?"

The fact that you even think about if it is a woman you'd flirt with or not, tells me that you may have an little problem there. In an professional environment your actions should not depend on that condition at all!

  • And further, putting the water bottle on is for the benefit of everyone who uses the dispenser, not the one person the OP has an issue with.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 13:34
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    When I started as an apprentice in a very small company, a colleague of mine was requested by another one to help with some menial task and answered "This is not my responsibilty" The boss overheard an wow was he angry - the employee was almost fired for this. I watched and learned. Never spoke those words in a professional context.
    – Daniel
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 13:41
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    It would not hurt to say please when asking for help.
    – Neo
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 12:28
  • @Mister Sort of Positive: Shure, the other one should say please, that would be at least professional courtesy. But that should not be a reason to be rude yourself. Always stay friendly and professional and when somebody else doesn´t you can call them out on that. Its easier if they can´t blame you for anything.
    – Daniel
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 13:35
  • @Daniel Manners work both ways. In general I agree, I always try to be nice, but as a human being, I sometimes reflect the attitude of the person asking me.
    – Neo
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 13:37

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