Bob, John and Alice are old acquaintances of mine. They are a little older than me, mid-to-late twenties. We are not close friends, but we get along together well and see each other regularly.
I needed to deliver something to someone in another town. For several reasons, I didn't want to employ a delivery service (among them: valued personalty, also personal experience). Traveling to the town myself would have cost me almost a whole day.
This was not a complicated or time-consuming task, not big, not heavy, not illegal, not immoral.
Bob knows the person I wanted to deliver it to, and he also happens to commute there regularly - in this case the next day, actually. The delivery would have cost him maybe additional 10 to 15 minutes. He is friendly and reliable, so I approached him about it.
I went to Bob, asked him and offered him compensation (a treat - our inofficial currency, let's just call it "Chocolate"). Alice and John were also around. Now, Alice and John got involved. They knew how much the travel would inconvenience me and, before Bob could answer, weighed in.
Alice noted how Bob could ask for much more and John agreed that he shouldn't sell himself short, since I was dependent on him. Alice suggested to Bob (and also to me) that I should expose my chest to him. John noted that touching was also not too much to demand, which Alice agreed to.
I wouldn't have taken that deal. Alice's and John's tone of voice - it was just a half joking layer over a serious core, if you know what I mean. When a cheerful tone is employed to soften the blow.
Bob didn't say anything, but looked at me as if he was hoping for me to agree to the proposed "payment". Alice and John were also awaiting my reaction. This made me feel uncomfortable and confirmed my suspicion about the seriousness of it.
How do I gently decline an indecent proposal on how to pay back my dues?
Since the resulting situation was awkward for me, I'm sure I could have handled it better.
My goal is to be gentle, because Bob doing me this favor would have been the best solution for me. I also wouldn't want the situation to become more awkward than it already was. And Bob is essentially a good guy. So I want Bob to help me, but not at this price.
Note that if he felt the deal wasn't good, I could have offered even more compensation - although my original offer was a fair deal.
How it actually went: While they were waiting for me to accept the indecent proposal, we stood there in silence. I finally broke it by saying that there wouldn't be much to see for him anyway. This didn't deter them and the silence continued. Then I looked at him, said "Chocolate, ok?" and he accepted.
- My friends sometimes make similar jokes about sexual favors, but no one ever actually did it (at least to my knowledge). They have never asked anything like this of me before.
- "Chocolate" is not a code word. It's really something delicious to eat, no deeper or hidden meaning.
- I said "At first I could have handled it better" because at first it seemed like just a lame joke and if they had followed up with something like "just kidding", I wouldn't have felt that awkward. But silence ensued as if they were waiting/hoping for me to accept their suggestion. This made the situation really awkward. But your questions made me realize that maybe it was an awkward situation for me only.
- An answer doesn't necessarily have to be more assertive; it should still be gentle so as to not hurt anybody's feelings.