Our company highly emphasizes that everyone should do their best at cross-departmental teamwork and as such we also have 360 degree appraisals, not just from our direct line manager. People get fired for declining to help those from other departments (or having an unhelpful attitude).
There is a common situation in my team (and my position specifically) where I am sent requests that are technically impossible, or would require more time or resources than other teams normally expect, or would severely interrupt our current processes.
Although I am not an airplane pilot, there are many projects or processes in my team that require the same level of focus and "adhering to the procedure" (whereas other teams are generally more flexible): A passenger cannot simply come into the cockpit and ask us to land at a different airport or change the route so they can have a great view over the beautiful mountains. What we can do is tell our passengers how to enjoy the flight, what to do in order to stay safe and not interfere with what's best for their journey. We can also accommodate special requests and cook a different meal for someone who needs it. We can divert in case of extreme emergencies. But apart from that, only we should have to say how the flight should be operated.
Yet at my workplace, there are such "passengers" who often request a non-standard task or project and my (and my team's) initial reaction is just to cringe at the thought of even trying!
Maybe it's because I am new to the scenario (well, it's going on since about 6 months), but I feel like when I say "we can't" I appear defensive - especially with the "passengers" who do their best to use logic, numbers, ideas, arguments, sales pitches etc. to "convince" me that I have to do the project the way they want.
I have learned how to say "no, we can't change the flight plan because that gets decided before". But I am aware that I say that with a negative vibe. I wish I could learn how to say it like "I'm so sorry, we can't change the flight path, but I am sure you will enjoy the view anyway".
I wish I could appear helpful, but I must admit that deep inside I know I cannot really help because it is technically impossible and I feel like these "passengers" are a nuisance trying to waste our time. My honest and frank reaction is simply frustration that these "passengers" just keep coming.
So how can I appear more helpful even if I know I cannot help, due to technical/procedural constraints?
(And if you suggest changing the procedure... ok, after many industry discussions, consultations, etc. but not during the flight! Hope this analogy makes my situation clearer)