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Build good boundaries to avoid boundary confusion and violations

Crossing supervisory roles with peer activities leads to boundary confusion. Sooner or later something happens that demands one type of response from a supervisor and another type from a peer.

Confusing coworker roles with best friend roles brings confusion. Think about why people often won’t sell an item to a friend; you have to decide which role, friend or business relationship, is more valuable to you.

If you don’t have boundaries, you use defenses such as withdrawal, control, sidetracking, creating rules, blaming others, rationalizing, intellectualizing, name calling, gossip, perfectionism, black-white thinking, threats and excessive concern for another.

All are methods of avoiding honest civil communication.

Boundary violations
Emotional boundaries are harmed by ridicule, contempt, derision, sarcasm, mockery, scorn, belittling, stifled communication, insistence on conformity, arbitrariness, the need to overpower and heavy judgments. Derogatory, insulting, disparaging remarks violate emotional boundaries.

Social networks on the Web can collide with your business world and provide boundary violations.

The healthy alternative is to establish boundaries
You need to be clear about what you want. If you have good established boundaries, you can be calm and relatively unaffected by the turmoil around you. You welcome communication and people respect your boundaries.

How to build better boundaries
• Increase your self-awareness.
• Identify those who have violated your boundaries in the past and how you feel about the offenders.
• Examine the state of your boundaries in your present relationships and clean them up.

Source for some of the boundary posts:
‘Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin’ by Anne Katherine, 1991, from the Hazelden Foundation which works in addiction treatment, publishing, education, research and recovery support.

Suggested reading
Save Your Sanity: Keep emotionally toxic people from ruining your mood by setting limits, speaking up for yourself, and standing your ground

Real Simple (magazine) March 2007, second half of article is ‘How to protect your boundaries’

Coming next: Protect your boundaries at work