Our Chair is writing a major proposal and me and my colleague are on-board (both non-tenured)... Chair has asked for a meeting next week to work on the bid for a centre and this colleague of mine has replied back to both of us accepting the meeting and on our behalf and has suggested working two-three full days for the Chair.

I replied to the Chair saying "sure lets meet" and didn't acknowledge anything else that was said. I am tempted to write to the my colleague and say I know they had the right intention but please never ever talk on my behalf again as its not professional. Is this the right thing to do?

I am worried if I don't react this will continue as I am new in my current job. On the other hand I am worried if I react by sending an email or verbal communication and asking them not do it they might just forward/talk with the Chair with some lame excuse like suggesting that I am really busy and unhappy and they will do it themselves to make me look bad or with the genuine intention of correcting their mistake which in both cases will make me look poor!

What should I do?

  • 14
    Sheesh. Take a walk, go see a movie, get a good night's rest. Then, when you've calmed down, talk to him. Note: Not at him.
    – JeffE
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 4:52
  • 1
    @JeffE advice taken on sleeping over it. Given the negative consequences that are hypothetically possible if the guy has ill intentions (no way of knowing and this behavior was a complete surprise). You do recommend talking with him over letting it slip this time? what should I say and how should I say it?
    – blackace
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 11:00
  • 4
    What he did was definitely presumptuous and inappropriate, but you seem surprisingly angry over it, which suggests that there's some backstory (e.g., maybe someone has caused trouble for you or a friend in similar ways in the past). The main thing is to talk calmly and straightforwardly, so he doesn't dismiss it as an overreaction. A key variable is how the chair has responded. It's possible that your colleague is known for talking without thinking first, and the chair probably understands the situation and doesn't actually expect you to follow through with your colleague's plan. Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 15:15
  • 4
    That does sound annoying. Cbeleites's answer seems like a reasonable approach. One variant might be to send an e-mail along the lines of "It will be great to be able to contribute to the proposal for the new centre, and I hope our meetings will be really productive. I have to say, though, that I found it a bit awkward when you signed me up without checking about my constraints or availability. Going forwards let's make sure to coordinate and confirm plans with each other before announcing them." It's pretty clearly critical, but hopefully not in a way that will make him defensive. Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 0:46

1 Answer 1


I'd suggest putting in those days - they may or may not be lost, but losses occur*. No use crying over spilt milk. Writing the time down as lost means, you can be happy if something good comes out of them at the end. OTOH, aking a fuss creates a serious risk of a trench war that would cost much more time.

However, I'd also talk to him in a calm minute. I may be taking a line saying that he luckily foresaw the way my opinion went, yet I'd wish him to quickly ask me beforehand in the future.
Talkin calmly may need that you know exactly why you are so angry that you have to post in a public Q&A site.

* partiuclarly in writing proposals. There's a rumour here in Germany that the Bundesrechnungshof once estimated that for different kinds of public grants from a national economic point of view (i.e. including all proposals that are written: accepted as well as rejected) about as much money/effort goes into writing grants as is distributed by the different grant programs (estimates ranging from 1 : 2 to 2 : 1 are mentioned).

  • Unless you have reason to assume it was malicious, just request that any such promise on your behalf needs to be first checked with you as you have a tight schedule - dispassionately; no anger, just with clear calmness. If you suspect maliciousness, and/or you are drowning in work, you could send a mail to the chair saying that there was a misunderstanding on the side of your colleague and actually you wouldn't be able to contribute. That being said, if you possibly can afford it, try to go with the flow. Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 19:23

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