I work in a small software company. A junior developer joined my team few months back. The problem is that I am constantly obeying whatever he asks me to do.

I am just a senior person on team and don't have the official authority over him . I don't lead him and he does not report me, so maybe he does not fear or respect me.

Like one day he asked me to send an email to product stakeholders about not doing something on the project. It was our team responsibility and he convinced me strongly. I did and was rebuked by manager. I regretted it later, a lot.

He asks me to take risky decisions about software development or other people issues and never does anything himself.

He instills negative and clever ideas in my mind to avoid more work and seems like he wants to shoot off my shoulder and then enjoys the consequences I will face.

I understand clearly what he wants to accomplish by doing such kind of things. He is overly ambitious person and wants me to be seen in bad light and then fired from my job, so that he is the star in the team.

How can I deal with him as I don't want to deny his requests as I'm a very soft hearted and polite man?

  • What is your role and position? Please edit that into the question.
    – Damila
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 17:47
  • @Damila , I have edited my question, read it again.
    – jacob74
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 18:22
  • To ask that question is to answer it.
    – ig-dev
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 3:29
  • 4
    Are you sure he sets you up for failure? Maybe he honestly believes in his requests, realizes they are hard to push through and asks you to do it because you have more authority/higher chance to do it. Do you have any teemmeetings/retros/reviews or similiar where people may request such stuff?
    – Benjamin
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 6:18
  • 5
    Well if you want to stop to obey, just...stop. I don't get the question. You should be mature enough to evaluate whether whatever he asks you is wise or not... so what seems to be the issue? Why are you accepting?
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 12:33

7 Answers 7


How can I deal with him as I don't want to deny his requests as I'm a very soft hearted and polite man?

Sorry to say this but if you want this to stop then you will have to deny this person's requests.

Next time this person suggests you do something, politely reply "That seems like an interesting idea. However, I have some other things to do, so you will have to do it yourself."

No need to be rude or anything, just politely decline their request and tell them to do it themselves (a really valuable skill for a Junior, or anybody, to learn).

  • 3
    Telling him to do it himself will work only if the suggestion is something that should be done. If the suggestion is to send an ill-advised e-mail to managers and stakeholders, the OP will will still be responsible if the junior developer can say "jacob74 told me to". Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 17:56
  • 1
    @PatriciaShanahan of course. If the request makes no sense or is ill-advised then one should say no, or at least try to persuade the Junior form not doing it
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 17:57
  • @DarkCygnus Patricia is expressing a gap in your answer.
    – Corey
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 18:17
  • @PatriciaShanahan Hmm, I thought OP is not the manager of the junior developer, so they are not responsible if that developer sends off nonsense - as long as OP formulates it as "If you think this is a good idea, you can try and suggest it." Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 4:22

"I'll think about it." is a good immediate response. It is polite to give thought to his suggestions, but remember they are suggestions, not orders that must be obeyed. If the junior developer has a strong personality, never make a final decision about his suggestions in his presence. Stick to "I'll think about it.".

What you actually do must be based on your own judgement as it will be your responsibility. If, after considering the matter, and possibly consulting other team members, you decide it was not a good idea you may choose to explain your reasoning, so the junior developer can learn from it. If you decide it was a good idea, thank the junior developer for the suggestion. If it involves work he can do, give him the action item.


I don't want to deny his requests as I'm a very soft hearted and polite

You're going to need to learn how to say "No."

I'm not saying you need to become mean or rude, but you are going to need to learn to stand up for yourself.


Your manager should be the one directing your work activities. If anyone else tries to, you should ask yourself,

What would my manager want me to do?

If the answer to that is not obvious, go ask your manager. Do not allow other staff to usurp your manager's role.

In the meantime, give your coworker a non-committal generic response. Don't give them anything to leverage you on, and don't feel forced to react in the heat of the moment. You'll have to choose your own words, but you could consider things like,

  • Thanks for the idea.
  • Hmm, interesting.
  • I'm not sure about that.
  • Something to think about!
  • Why don't you try that?
  • Let me check with my boss on that.
  • Maybe you should ask your boss about that.
  • Sorry, I'm busy right now.
  • Hey, I've got to focus on this for now.

The key is, make it clear that you're focused on your assigned tasks, and you're not interested in discussing this person's schemes at length or following their orders.

  • While this is good general advice, there are project management methodologies where this might not be true (e.g. because you should be doing what your Team Lead wants you to do).
    – nick012000
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 0:36
  • 1
    @nick012000 - Certainly. Perhaps "boss" or "person in charge" should have been used in my answer instead of "manager." The point is: there is an official person from whom you should take direction, and you shouldn't ignore that and let yourself take direction from just anyone at all who suggests something. In fact, you can use that to your advantage - when other people try to direct your actions, it's easy to simply say "my boss wants me to do this instead" or "let me check with my boss/lead/manager."
    – dwizum
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 13:45

I understand clearly what he wants to accomplish by doing such kind of things. He is overly ambitious person and wants me to be seen in bad light and then fired from my job, so that he is the star in the team.

What evidence do you have?

How can I deal with him as I don't want to deny his requests as I'm a very soft hearted and polite man?

I'm going to be direct with you: You have a weak personality. Soft heartedness and politeness don't mean anything if you are incapable of standing up for yourself (or others) when necessary. It's impossible to be good while also being weak.

In my assessment you see malice where there is no evidence for it since you are bitter for facing the negative consequences of your actions and resentful because you know that you should have said "no" in those situations but couldn't because you were afraid. The other person probably doesn't mean you any evil since you don't seem like any kind of threat anyway. He orders you around because it simply works and he got used to you not resisting in any way.

If you want to change this then you must learn to say "no" and be prepared to stand your ground even if there is a chance that the other person might get offended or push back. And take responsibility for your actions. It may have been his ideas but it was YOU who followed through on them. When you get out of this victim mentality you will see everything more clearly and know what to do when faced with similar situations in the future.

  • I'll ask you the same question: What evidence do you have? Or anything other than a blown-up opinion of your own greatness and opinions? Where is the part you refer to as 'In my assessment'?
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 0:07

I don't want to deny his requests as I'm a very soft hearted and polite man?

I understand the feeling, however some requests are not pure. The solution to this is not to attempt to deal with it realtime, but instead create canned responses ahead of time. This is not a new idea, we train our children the same way regarding stranger danger.

If he wants to make any changes to a project, an automatic response along the lines "I'll book a meeting with us and xyz to discuss".

If he wants you to correspond to external customers, automatic response such as "Will bounce it off xyz (manager) thanks for suggestion".

He instills negative and clever ideas in my mind to avoid more work

Transmission of negative clever ideas requires persuasion via discussion. Further reason to apply a canned response, and just politely pull back to the response regardless of what is said.

  • Thanks for a good answer.
    – jacob74
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 6:02

You'd better realise very quickly and very certainly that you're in a dangerous situation.

Right after that, you should start getting particularly angry that a little rat face is manipulating you with the premeditated, determined goal to suck you dry until he can spit out the last bits of dregs - all for his own entertainment. He is actively enjoying every moment and morsel of your predicament - and feeds his deranged mind off of it as would a vampire hunger for blood. When he's done with you, he'll find his next victim.

Read up - as a matter of urgency - on the Internet about narcissists and why they pose a very real threat in general, and specifically for you. You'll equally find videos on YouTube discussing this sort of thing - explaining what it is, the methods, the goals and how its possible that you are naturally almost defenceless against it; one of the very reasons for these biological rubbish thugs to be as successful as they are.

Narcissism is a perilous mental derangement. How deep this mind-rapist has already infiltrated, penetrated and reprogrammed / altered your mind and thinking, is the chilling words which you have typed yourself: I don't want to deny his requests as I'm a very soft hearted and polite man.

One of the aspects which you should immediately explore by yourself, is why you give in to his demands and mechanisms. You might simply abhor confrontation, be fascinated with his eloquence, find him generally attractive or likeable, derive some sort of reward from him paying you attention, be intrigued with the power plays he concocts or whatever. For the sake of self preservation, find out exactly what this person triggers inside of you and identify your specific weakness, so that you can start rigging a strategy for your defence.

Find every possible reason for not liking this person - as long as the reasons are real and valid - and constantly remind yourself of them.

It's not quite clear exactly what your physical work situation is, but the best would be to avoid any form of contact if not in the presence of other work people, preferably someone higher up in your work hierarchy such as your manager.

You HAVE to break this person's hold on you. The next thing you know, you've not only lost your job, but your reputation as well - possibly for a very long time. If you're married or attached - specifically having other dependants such as children - you are right now placing their well-being in great peril. It might be awkward or even a disgrace to acknowledge the power that this predator is exerting over you when you begin to right now find help, but it will be much worse to be scraped off of the pavement later on.

You've already identified the dangers, acknowledged and explored some of your vulnerabilities, and started looking for sources of help, such as asking your question here. Remain on course, intensify your efforts and neutralise the web of tentacles that has already began to be woven around you.

Time, lastly, is not your friend. Neither is kindness and politeness - except extreme kindness towards yourself and the people attached to you.

  • 2
    Isn’t this a little... dramatic? Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 15:49
  • @Ernest Friedman-Hill - When you've had the happy experience of more than fifteen years looking on an acquaintance's life systematically being destroyed by his narcissist wife - after which his teenage son almost followed before I could get him as far as getting rid of her and normalise their lives - you'll know that I've actually went to a little trouble to keep this as undramatic as possible. It would perhaps help to do a little surfing around on the Internet to enlighten yourself. Obtuse opinions don't bother me - I've made the effort to inform this man. He can simply reject it.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 23:54
  • @Ernest Friedman-Hill - On the other hand, I've read about this site a little after I'd made the previous comment, and I've read of some seemingly fairly bizarre sort of things going on in certain countries - specifically what I conclude to be India. Astonishing stuff which is apparently not always considered to be very abnormal, at all. My experience is Western / British / European - if this is thus a cultural-related situation, my answer might be uninformed and not applicable at that. Pertaining to actual narcissism, though, nothing dramatic about it. BTW, your jessrules server is down.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 1:13
  • I always try not to assume evil intent when stupidity is sufficient; my first impulse is therefore that the dumb idea generator is just... dumb. Could turn out to be otherwise, of course. Thanks for letting me know about the server, @Tim ! Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 2:08
  • @Ernest Friedman-Hill - You're more than absolutely right. Things here are a little beyond dumb, though. He seems to have a senior position (thus not young or stupid) while this is his first encounter of this sort. Then, he hasn't any personal motivation to destroy himself – just the opposite; but he can't escape what's happening, even though he's already figured out something is really wrong, to the point that he seeks help. What prevents him from simply stopping? Someone is pulling his strings. I'd be very relieved to be wrong about this, though.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 2:46

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