I have a colleague (from now on called C) that I voluntarily work with (in a non-corporate environment) because we could get some work done that could be generally beneficial, including to both of us (though to varying degrees).
Every once in a while, C will approach me with 'friendly advice', saying that it would be really good for me personally to do a certain thing. Without exception, if I were to take this friendly advice it would always benefit them at least equally, most often more, than it does me. I'm always annoyed, because (1) they are being underhanded, (2) it's condescending especially because it's so transparent, and (3) I'm happy doing the job I do, I'm good at it, and I enjoy doing something for other people if they appreciate it, so none of this awkwardness is really needed.
I should note that other coworkers, especially C's juniors, have similar experience. Also, there is no cultural divide between us, and this takes place in Western Europe.
I would like to have a smooth functioning (and loose) relationship with C but this is being hampered by their attempts at manipulation. Ideally I would also like to gain some insight into this person's thought processes because they seem so illogical to me. I would like to convince C to drop the act and pitch their ideas in a more honest way. I want to get some work done in this collaboration but I also want to discourage this manipulative behavior, so I've attempted various measures, all of which are counter-productive:
- (repeatedly) Ignore C, delay a response, or remain overly vague about any commitment to the task.
- (occasionally) Act dumb, thank them for the great idea but don't follow through.
- (occasionally) Blatantly ask them to pitch their ideas in a more honest way, explaining my above objections. They will invariably double down, swearing that they only have my best interest at heart, that they personally don't really stand to gain all that much from me doing this thing because they are already so successful, and suggesting that I am being cynical for assuming the worst in people. The tone is generally placating, which feels off to me given my accusation. Even when offered a somewhat gracious way out, C will not take it. Because they seem concerned with image preservation above all else, this approach seems like a dead end to me, but I hope I'm wrong.
What else can I try to do to convince C that their way of engaging me and anyone else is counter-productive for everyone involved, and is actively against C's own self-interest? Several colleagues already refuse to work with this person. The world would be a better place if this person were more self-aware.
Even though this situation is merely annoying, any help would be much appreciated!
N.B.: A similar situation could presumably arise outside the workplace in a purely social setting too (e.g. a friend of a friend), hence me posting my question here.