To Help or Not to Help

To Help or Not to Help

In episode 15, To Help or Not to Help, Elaina and Tracy discussed the reality of recommending people for jobs, going out of one's way to help someone else, and the common pitfalls of helping and supporting those who may not deserve it.

"Not everyone will appreciate what you do for them. You have to figure out who's worth your kindness & who's just taking advantage of you."- Unknown

In episode 15, To Help or Not to Help, Elaina and Tracy discussed the reality of recommending people for jobs, going out of one's way to help someone else, and the common pitfalls of helping and supporting those who may not deserve it. They also explored experiences with the lack of support and challenges in professional settings    

We help others for the good of our own heart and not expect anything in return. But does that mean that we have to continue to help you after they appear not to appreciate the help or are taking advantage?

Professionally, we often find people who are very intelligent and hardworking and motivated. We form bonds based on mutual respect and understanding. When we recommend someone for a job, we are staking our reputation. Sometimes we support people, and they perform well and sometimes not so much. 

Tracy shared an experience when recommending someone for a position did not go well. Now I am careful to decide whether to help someone or not. 

Sometimes people use you for their motives and then once reached, will never be back. Please do not take these minor things; they can only burn you once. Life is long. Opportunities come and go. We need people at every point, so we also not need to burn the bridges. Maybe today you need others, and at another point in life, they may need you. Life is always like this. There always be ups and downs, never a straight road. 

We should listen to people, but still, it should be our choice to help them or not. It may make us feel stressed that it is perceived that we must help others at any cost. 

When we recommend someone for a job, we are staking our reputation at a certain point. So, we have to have those limits and those boundaries in place. 

It feels like we're a double minority in the workplace. We are not only deal with all the everyday things as a woman in corporate America, but also, we have to deal with the toxic relationship between another woman in the workplace, and it's unfortunate. 

I think we have to get to a place where if we started focusing more on ourselves and stop worrying about everyone else and do some good for somebody else. Only If we believe that person deserves it, and if you don't, maybe have a conversation to help them understand what they need to do to earn your help. I'll be honest. Everybody doesn't deserve it. 

Find another way to give back, and don't let it ruin a friendship or any relationship. But if you are that person that continually puts others' needs above your own and you always put your neck out there for people, don't let the same individual keep burning you. Don't do that to yourself. 

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Tracy:Hey Laina.

Elaina:Hey, boo. How you doing?

Tracy:I’m good.

Elaina:Ah I’m good too. I’m going to tell you now. I have squirrel mentality right now. Meaning I’m the shiny object girl and I’m hella distracted by everything.

Tracy:Listeners that’s your warning.

Elaina:So, I have no idea what this conversation, how it’s going to go, what I’m gonna say, what I’m gonna share, but just I’m asking for forgiveness now. Was really thinking about when people reach out and say, “Hey, can you recommend me for this?” Like even when it comes to LinkedIn and people writing recommendations, and what do you look for when you decide that you’re going to help someone get a job or recommend them for something?

Tracy:I learned, I learned this the hard way. So initially it would be to the point where I’ve worked with people on a project before where I didn’t have direct experience of how well of a job they did. But I know from an interpersonal standpoint, they seem to get along well with folks on the project. Seemed to do a good job where they’ve reached out to me and I’m like, “Hey, I don’t mind recommending you” because they were a pleasure to work with. So the hard part came in where I had someone ask that I recommend them for a job. And they were actually a designer like you and I, knew that they had decent design chops, felt ok recommending them until afterwards the hiring manager called me like, “what the hell was that?”

Elaina:Was it that deep?

Tracy:Yes. And she didn’t go into details on what exactly this person said, but to me, you and I have been on plenty of interviews that first interview, it’s not that hard. So if you can’t make it past that first one, and the person’s calling me like, what the hell?

Elaina:Maybe it was performance anxiety. People get nervous.

Tracy:Yeah. It kind of opened my eyes like, okay, Tracy, you’re going to have to be careful who you start recommending for roles. Because at that point, now it’s like, I know this hiring manager is still looking for someone, but I know the next person I recommend would have to be top-notch.  Otherwise, my name is mud. And you want to keep those connections.

Elaina:Absolutely, and I think that’s one of the things where I am very particular when I put my name on somebody. You know, I have friends that are like, “Hey, can I put you down as a reference?” Yeah, you can put me down as a reference.  But there are some people where I’m like, I don’t know if I’m gonna answer that call.

Tracy:You’re bogus.

Elaina:I mean, it’s very, very few and far between, but for me, it’s one of those things where it’s integrity and I have to truly trust that if I recommend you that you’re going to show up to show out. And being a consultant and working, you know, contractually, I meet a lot of people who do the same thing I do. And so you build this network of people and you get to know everyone’s skills and what everyone is good at.

So when opportunities come up that maybe I’m not available for, I can be like, “Hey, can I give your information to this person?” Or “can I send you this person?” Like, I don’t have a problem with doing that for people who I actually know can do the job. And I’m not going to randomly give somebody information if I don’t know.

I want to keep that connection going because I may be on to my next contract and need that, you know? And they’d be like, umm umm cause you sent me some hot mess. No, I’m not gonna do that. But I will tell you that I have had an experience similar to yours and it was a long time ago. And I think the reason why I became very picky is because you build relationships with people and you think you’re all friends and everybody got everybody back.

And I’m one of those people I want to see everybody win. Even if you surpass me, I want to see you win. Whatever that looks like. And I made a recommendation like “Oh, okay, yeah, I’ll be a reference.” Yeah, put me down.” But then he was like, “can you tell them I did this, and can you tell them I did that?” But you ain’t do that though.


Elaina:Can you tell them my title was this, but that wasn’t your title. Like no, you want me to lie for you? I’m not going to lie for you. Now I can stretch the truth of responsibilities but I’m not going to just blatantly say you’re capable of doing something that you’re actually not qualified for.

Tracy:Exactly, oh my God.

Elaina:I’m not doing you a favor or me. Like why would you want a job you’re not qualified for?

Tracy:Exactly. I had, I used to have to have that conversation. You know, I used to do resumes for a while and I would have to have that conversation with folks. And one guy in particular, because he wanted me to put stuff on his resume that just wasn’t true. And I would tell him, we’re going to have a conversation, I’ll interview you, I’ll do the resume. But, I’m not gonna to put anything on here that isn’t true, and you shouldn’t want that because you’re going to have to…like the resume it may get you a phone call, but you’re gonna  have to speak to this in an interview. And they’re going to ask some pretty in-depth questions to make sure that you’ve actually done the work. I wouldn’t be so quick to cop to something I haven’t done.

Elaina:Yeah. And then when you get the job, the amount of stress that you’re putting yourself under because now you’ve gotten a job and you can’t do anything that’s expected of you. Yeah. I had an experience once where I was leading this project. I can’t have anyone that doesn’t know how to use the tool. I don’t have time to teach you. And it was amazing to me how many agencies had doctored the resume to match what we were looking for. And when these poor babies came into this interview, I put them through the test.  I Basically took an e-learning, broke it and said, fix it and no one, no one. When I say no one, we’re talking 10 people.

No one knew how to do it. They couldn’t fix it. But there was one particular person I could tell how disappointed she was. And I remember I looked over at the hiring manager when she left and this that that’s who you want to hire. She was like, but she doesn’t know the software you just said, and I said, but she was disappointed. And I guarantee you if you bring her back for a second interview and she’s gonna know how to do it because it’s going to drive her crazy because didn’t know as much as she thought she knew. I reached out to her afterwards and I said, look, if you can learn this and prove that you learned it, I might be able to convince her. And sure enough, we interviewed her a second time a week later and it worked. So yeah, I would go to bat for someone if I see something in you to go to bat for.


Elaina:And I’m also a believer that you gotta be able to learn how to help yourself.

Tracy:100% yeah. 100%. Now have you been in a situation where it’s been reversed. Where you’ve reached out for folks and you did or didn’t get the response you expected.

Elaina:Absolutely. Absolutely. And get it as, I think sometimes you’re in situations and there may be personal, right?  But it comes to my professional life I don’t really look at anything personally, but I know that others do. And that’s your prerogative. But if we disagree on something, I’m one of those people like let bygones be bygones. Cause I don’t have to like you to respect you professionally. We don’t need to be friends.

We don’t need to hold hand and sing kumbaya and braid each other’s hair. I’m okay with that. But if you know my work ethic and I’m reaching out to say, “Hey, I’m seeking a new opportunity.” I see that XYZ company that you now work at has got this position open. Would you pass along a recommendation or slide my resume to the top when people either don’t respond or they just do the, yeah, I don’t really have any influence in that department.

Okay, that’s fine. I just know to not reach out to you again. We not cool like I thought we were.

Tracy:Yes. And that was my situation exactly where, and I think that’s where, and like you, I don’t look for handout. I have a really strong work ethic. I try to keep that because you never know. My profession, our circle is small.

Even if people don’t know you, they’re going to know someone who knows you or who worked with someone who works with you. So I do try to keep my reputation at a high level. To me it says something, and I think I take it personally when it’s someone that I’ve went out of my way to recommend or to make sure that they at least got their foot in the door for an interview and then you reach out and you don’t hear anything. I don’t take it personally. I don’t know. Maybe I do, but it’s to the point where

Elaina:It sounds like we’ll take it a little personal.


Tracy:I do, I do.  I’m not gonna even lie. I’m not gonna lie. I do. But it’s like now I look at it like, okay, that’s cool we don’t have the relationship that I thought. Just know that you can’t ask me.

And the thing is, when it comes to jobs, opportunities, things come and go. I always live by the motto, you never know who you may need in the future. You can be on top today, but you don’t know what tomorrow looks like. So it’s like if you’re okay burning that bridge with me that’s totally fine with me

Elaina:I’m a little conceded in the sense that I be like, you will need me way before I’ll need you.

Tracy:Yeah, I think that too. That must be an Aquarius thing.

Elaina:Because it’s one of those things where it’s like, I learned my lesson. You only get one opportunity to burn me. And once I feel like you’re not someone that has my back, I’m not going to go above and beyond for you. I do think that there’s this perception or expectation amongst some of us and maybe it exists in other cultures as well, but I’m not part of that dynamic, so I don’t know.

But I do think that within some of the African American communities, some of us look at each other like help a brother out, help a sister out. Just because we are black does not mean that I have to put myself on the line for you. Now what it does is give you the opportunity to share your journey with me, and I can decide at that point if I want to help you. But it’s still my decision and I have every right to make that I don’t owe you anything.


Elaina:And it frustrates me when I feel like it’s perceived as we have to help each other. No, that does not mean be crappy to each other. We should try to support and uplift each other. What are you doing to uplift yourself?


Elaina:So I’ll give you an example, so everybody has clarity. I have someone in my life who has been in my life for a very, very long time, and they struggle with staying employeed.  And there was one summer I spent a whole summer writing resumes, sending out resumes, driving them to interviews, bought them clothes for their interview, and they finally got a job and had it for two weeks.

Tracy:Oh my God. They didn’t even see a check did they

Elaina:By the law, yes, they would have had to have gotten paid for the work that they did.

But keep in mind, at the time I was also unemployed, but I was putting my effort into them finding a job. I knew I was okay. I had savings and I was taking time off for myself internal cleansing.  Have to do that when you leave certain employers, but we ain’t gonna say no names, but I was there for eight years. I met you there.

I needed a whole bonus cleansing after that. In that moment, after that experience. I’m sorry, I’m not going to put that much effort. If I care more than you. How does that work?

Tracy:Yeah, now that’s sad.

Elaina:I think that there is a definitely a balancing act that occurs when we do decide to help someone, but I’m also that person where you help and you have to help just from the goodness of your heart and not expect anything in return. But that, does that mean that I have to continue to help you after you burn me or screw up.

Tracy:Yeah, absolutely.

Elaina:Cause at some point you either sink or swim, and I don’t like getting my hair wet, so I’m mad jumping in to save you.

Tracy:Yeah, we’re pretty much, we’re going to say the same thing. You know, like I said, it’s your reputation at a certain point. So you have to have those limits and those boundaries in place.

Elaina:Yeah and then here’s the other thing I don’t truly understand. I don’t understand in working environments tends to be so much opposition amongst certain females.

Tracy:Oh my God.

Elaina:Typically, females in leadership now I understand that in a professional environment, we as women have the difficult task of proving ourselves and working ourselves up through the ranks. But once you’ve got the position. You can stop trying to prove yourself.

Tracy:Yeah. Oh my God. I’m dealing with a situation similar where it’s hell.  It’s like, I don’t know what…

Elaina:Tell us how you really feel.

Tracy:It really is like hell. I was like, Oh my God. Cause I guess I’m one of those, I’m not naive. Been in the working game, I’ve had plenty of jobs, working for a long time. Not naive in the slightest. But at the same time, I look at, especially when it comes to women, I don’t look for special treatment because I’m going to come in and I’m gonna do my job.

Because if I report to you, me doing a good job is making me look good and it’s also making you look good. I like to get my bonuses. I like to perform at a certain level cause I want to get all of my bonus because I have plans for my bonus before it even hits my account. But I feel like there’s some situations where there’s some women in leadership, they feel like they have to prove something to who knows who, and they make it extra hard for other women. And I don’t understand that. And I look for me and that woman, whoever that may be, for us to have, I don’t want to say connection because it sounds kind of fuzzy for it to be a professional environment, but I feel like there should be a base level understanding we’re minorities in a workplace.

Yeah, especially if it’s a black woman. I feel like we’re a double minority in the workplace. Don’t need you to take a sword for me. I’m gonna do what I need to do but why make it harder for another woman when you already know what we’re against in corporate America? I ‘ll never understand that, but I feel like it’s insecurity.

I feel like sometimes it’s that fear that maybe their trust isn’t there, where they feel like you’re trying to go for their jobs. I really don’t know. But it’s really sad. It really is because not only now you’re dealing with all the typical things you have to deal with as a woman in corporate America, but then on top of that, you have to deal with this toxic relationship between another woman in the workplace and it’s really sad.

Elaina:It truly is, and it’s just one of those things has always baffled me because I can tell you when I think back I’ve probably have worked with two female leaders that I truly felt had my back, it was a mutual respect. For the most part, my best relationships with my manager, like someone I report to would have been a male, and I’ve been told that I can come off as intimidating.  I’m five one I don’t feel that I’m intimidating. I think part of it is, is when I speak, I speak with confidence. I mean, why would I not speak with confidence? So I don’t know if that is what people find intimidating. I had one manager tell me once that whenever she talks to me, I talked to her like she’s stupid. And I said to her, I talked to you like I talked to everybody.


Elaina:But yet you’re the only one that feels inadequate. So that’s to me, sounds more like a you issue, not an Elaina issue. Because what I will not do is be responsible or accountable for your feeling. Now unless. I said you’re stupid. Don’t put words in my mouth. I mean, she was stupid but I never said it. But I think we’re talking about serious stuff and there’s a lot of people that are going through it right now, and I’m one of those people where it’s like, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. I think a lot of it goes back to that self-worth and that self-love. And I feel like when you are a whole person you are not worried about other people and you just try and do the best that you can to get through your day and to grow and develop in your career. Because I’m sorry, I, for me, it takes way too much time, effort, and energy to not like somebody. It’s easier for me to just interact with you as I interact with everybody else. Like it takes a lot of effort from me, not to like you.

Like I’m not going to go out of my way to just be an ass. That’s too much energy. And you’re probably aren’t worth all of that. We like to think highly of ourselves.

Tracy:I was going to say half the people that I would probably spend time not liking you could tell already they don’t like themselves and it’s like, I’m not gonna choose this as the moment that I’m going to agree with you. So you go ahead and not like yourself. And I’ll be over here not caring.

Elaina:My mom used to be a bank supervisor. And my mom was behind the teller line and she overheard, and it was two younger African American girls, and one of them whispered to the other one, like, she think she cute.”

And my mom turned to her and said, no, you think I’m cute. And they wonder where I get it from. Someone hasn’t said something to you and you walk away with this perception, “oh, they think they know everything.” No, you think they know everything. That’s how you perceive it. That doesn’t make it reality. That’s why it’s like when they throw out that term, perception is reality. No, your reality could be to think in one thing based on your experiences, but that doesn’t make it real.

Tracy:Yeah you’re just projecting onto me.

Elaina:Yep. Don’t project onto me. I think we just have to get to a place where if we started focusing more on ourselves and stop worrying about everyone else do some good for somebody else.

If we believe that that person deserves it, and if you don’t, maybe have a conversation to help them understand what they need to do to deserve your help. I’ll be honest. Everybody don’t deserve it. You ain’t doing anything to help yourself. Yeah. Do I need to come in and feed? Yeah.

Tracy:And if you don’t have to, and I don’t think you have to give to get. I always try to give without even expecting to get. But if you know deep down inside that you don’t want to be in a position to help somebody else, then don’t be that person asking for help. You can’t have it both ways.

Elaina:We’ll, most of us are very prideful and we don’t want to ask for help, especially financial help. But if someone does offer to help, I think there’s a difference, right? I think if you ask someone for help, then you should do the best that you can to pay that back in some way, even if it’s not from a financial standpoint. Do something to show that you appreciate it. And if you’re not in a position to pay it back, be honest about that. But don’t let it ruined a relationship. And I know, told y’all, shiny objects, going off on a tangent on something completely different.  But I think it fits because I just think that this whole conversation at the root of it, yes, we want to help and support each other.

But you also don’t want to do that if it’s going to put you in a bad position, whether it’s your reputation, whether it’s financial, whether it’s emotional. Yes, we want to do take care of each other, or at least I think most of us want to be able to help and take care of each other, but we have to make sure we’re not doing that at our own expense.


Elaina:We are going to wrap things up there. Hope we gave you something to think about today.

Tracy:Some food for thought.

Elaina:I was going to see if I can find some Adderall somewhere so I can learn how to focus.

Tracy:You did good

Elaina:Today’s a whole distraction. Girl, I don’t even know what we just talked about. I hope that all those that are listening that you walk away with something.

Maybe you are that person that somebody else helped and you weren’t able to be there for them when they needed help. Find another way to just give back and don’t let it ruin a friendship or any type of relationship. But if you are that person that constantly puts others needs above your own and you constantly put your neck out there for people, don’t let the same individual keep burning you. Don’t do that to yourself. You all take care. Tracy, anything else.

Tracy:No. Just pay it forward guys. It comes back.

Tracy Hampton

Learning and Development Consultant