A blog post can only deal with this topic about work on a surface level. An exhaustive study of this subject would surely take many volumes and I have a great many reasons why attempting one is not possible for me at this moment. However, I can rat out the lazier of our brethren by pointing out their diverse strategies for dropping the ball at a moment’s notice.
My credentials for this weighty task include the raising of six + children, working as an English professor for over two decades and having been a teenager for the usual eight years. Also, I am married. I am performing this public service for the benefit of all of those in the unenviable position of trying to get other people to get work done. If you are in management of any kind, this will be helpful as well. And if one chooses to read this list as an instructional guide to get out of things one ought to be doing, well, that’s not my business.
So in no particular order, here is the infernal list of avoidant strategies:
1: Dynamic Incompetence:
The beauty of this technique is that when honed, dynamic incompetence can almost guarantee that one will never be asked to perform even the simplest of tasks. Given enough time, the work resistant can demonstrate an utter lack of competence at an ever increasing number of menial tasks. From folding towels poorly to chipping dishes when loading the dishwasher, the sky is the limit to the number of chores at which one can do a subpar job.
If the task at hand needs to be done well such as the changing of the oil in the car, then include a failure that will cast one’s temporary competence in the shade. One gentleman of my acquaintance makes sure to do particularly dirty chores in his best shirt. Enough shirts ruined and even the most experience hardened woman will think twice about making a request.
2: Dogged Passivity:
An older woman of my acquaintance, faced as she is with three stubborn, outspoken sons, has adopted a policy of non-response that equals that of a Buddha. If you lack the flair required by dynamic incompetence or perhaps are more of a taciturn disposition, passivity is your best course of action. Cultivate the ability to be a no-show, even in person. Those with the ability to persevere in obdurate inaction have taken avoidance by the horns and wrangled that beast to the ground. People will no longer ask one to do things, leaving one to reflect on one’s life uninterrupted. One doesn’t have to climb the wall if one is the wall.
Procrastination amounts to much the same thing, though the making of many excuses resembles a response that true utter passivity lacks. In truth, to procrastinate is really just adding the word aggressive after the word passive.
3: Intense Suffering:
One of the most difficult scenes I have watched on a nature show is that of a buffalo gradually succumbing to a bacterial infection thanks to the filthy bite from a Komodo dragon. Turning this into a metaphor, if an assigned task is the dreaded infectious bite, then you are the sufferer on the gradual descent into nothingness. If one can express one’s extreme suffering through facial grimaces and sagging shoulders, perhaps dragging the feet for effect, one clearly communicate the cruel nature of the request. While generally, people will stop asking one to do all the things, whether it is from sympathy or irritation will be anyone’s guess.
4: Righteous Indignation:
This one requires walking a fine line. The way it worked when my kids were growing up was at first a shield of passive resistance was thrown up against the unfair request. When my nagging began to include the threat of possible consequences, one of the teens would arise in a proper fury. With jerky movements and dire mutterings from under their breath, they would proceed to clean with a will. Usually, these rages resulted in excellent work. The fine line lay in whether the attitude was punishment enough to compensate for a job well done. Best to use this one as a last resort, especially if one’s hard-pressed boss or parents have become inured to sassiness, and one’s clearly expressed unhappiness leaves them curiously unmoved. If that is the case, one has just revealed oneself capable of decent work, an instance that will be long remembered by any self-respecting authority.
5: Busyness and Bluster:
Bluster is often mistaken for busyness in today’s world. If one isn’t truly busy with a host of urgent matters, then blustering will give the impression that one is. By sending long involved text messages or emails detailing how hard ones work is and reminding the unwonted authorities in one’s life of one’s value, one can often repel further requests for assistance. When combatting the specter of work, a great many words are often needed. It almost doesn’t matter if they are strung together with any logic or unifying purpose. Merely inserting the phrases hard work and I do so much around here are usually enough to do the trick.
I hope this little list helps to communicate how to avoid unnecessary work, or to expose the strategies of those from whom you hope to obtain said work. Either way, this is a small list designed for either purpose. So have at it, or not, as the case may be.