Butt Wiping 101: Potty Training My Coworker

As a recovering people pleaser, it pains me to have to say sometimes you just have to make people mad at you for a good cause.  Last week I made a coworker mad at me by simply stating facts that were true, and while painful, if she had just been a little more proactive in her job approach, things would never have gotten to this point.

The old saying goes “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  I’ve always thought that was incredibly unfair.  It made more sense to me that the wheel that never gets squeaky because someone was proactive enough to make sure they took great care of their wheels should have grease before any other wheels running around being squeaky.  As it turns out, those that are excellent at caring for their own wheels run around this planet greasing other people’s wheels too because they are too thoughtless or lazy to grease their own.

I’m not speaking about those that need occasional help.  I’m hardly perfect, and I will ask for help from time to time.  I’m talking about habitual squeaky wheels.  Those kind of people that run around complaining about whatever at that moment needs fixing are exhausting.  It seems they are never happy.  Someone’s inadequacy or sheer laziness prompts them to look beyond themselves for a solution to their problems and that usually means a person that is a professional problem solver.  The issue with that is that means the professional problem solver is now doing two jobs: their own and the problem maker’s.

The inspiration behind this piece smiles widely all the time while spewing poisonous myriad issues. She has a job, doesn’t know how to do it, and instead of figuring out how to do super productive things like download her own attachments, she chooses to yell like a toddler that needs their rear wiped.   I’ve discovered that people enjoy making her shut up so much they do the unthinkable.  They wipe her butt.  I’ve done it.  Those in charge have done it.  Those that work in her team do it.  The reason they do it is simple.  Her butt is dirty, and we are horrified at the fact she is unable to do her own job effectively.

As toddlers we are eventually potty trained when we get old enough to understand that there is a cause and effect situation going on with our body.  Steps are taken to ensure that we know how to use the toilet.  The last step in toilet training is learning to effectively wipe our own butt.  Otherwise, disaster ensues and there are bigger messes to clean up than originally were necessary.  At work, this translates to someone who doesn’t know how to wipe their own butt has two choices: find someone to do the job or walk around with turd butt.  Those of us that understand the fine art of butt wiping are horrified by the later, so we inevitably do the former.  That is ridiculous.  Adults should wipe themselves.

When someone is getting paid for a job, they should do it.  They don’t have to like it, but certain things that aren’t negotiable.  Just because they don’t like one aspect of a job does not mean they should get to neglect it or find someone to do it for them.  Some jobs are dirty.  Some jobs have things that are not fun about them.  We don’t sign up for just the fun part of a job.  We sign up for the whole thing.

There are problem makers and problem solvers.  Everyday I encourage students to be a problem solver, and not a problem maker.  I do it because I don’t want to live in a world with a lot of people that can’t solve basic problems themselves.  If we don’t allow people to wipe themselves the problem doesn’t go away.  Poop happens.  You can wipe it, but odds are, the problem is going to happen again.  Without learning how to deal with the problem, the problem maker is going to keep on making problems forever, and that is a perpetual problem in and of itself.

So, what would happen if everyone stopped wiping people’s butts?  It would be messy for a while.  Yes, when we train a toddler we take a risk, and when we do this with a coworker, it can be just as risky.  What if they fail?  What if they do something wrong?  In the end it is a much better solution than just continuing to do your job and theirs too.  There comes a time when you have to remove the help they depend on and allow them to have ownership over their problems.  In a world where Google exists, is there much they can’t figure out when dealing with most jobs?  I doubt it.  Let them get messy.  Let them yell.  I bet that eventually they will figure out the solution.  If they don’t, at least they are finding someone else to clean up after them and it doesn’t always fall to you. And that? That’s one less problem for you to deal with!