You are standing in my front garden!
About boundaries and encroachment!
Imagine you come out of your front door in the morning, and a person is standing in your front garden among the roses cutting a bouquet. You, too, must have been taken aback by so much audacity. For a moment, you are paralysed and don’t know what to do.
I was inspired to write this post by a very readable article by my dear colleague @Angela (link in the comments) from a few days ago. It is about disrespect, derogatory feedback, bullying and sexual assault. They also make you speechless and helpless the first moment. Afterwards, they generate impotent anger. If the assaults continue, they lead to severe psychological and psychosomatic disorders.
We all carry an invisible protective bell that marks our personal safety zone. Its size differs from person to person and from culture to culture. We also need spaces of retreat that guarantee that no one will follow us there without our permission.
There are severe dysfunctions in families where there is a culture of not respecting personal boundaries and territories. On the other hand, a lack of culture dealing with borders and territories has direct economic consequences in workplaces. Therefore, counter-border-violating cultures with a suitable alternative are essential.
Immediately removing the border violators helps the victims acutely but does not solve the fundamental problem. Instead, the first step is to analyse the current situation and then work on the family or company culture. Of course, work must also be done with the perpetrators to avoid recidivism.
If you want to know what the culture of respect for the boundaries of fellow human beings is like in a system, questions like the following are helpful:
– If you urgently want a file on your colleague’s desk, but they are not at work, would they still take it? (That would be a clear violation of boundaries!)
– You are talking to a colleague, and there is an open box of chocolates on their desk. Do you reach into it or ask for permission?
– You want to tell an employee or colleague what you think of their work or behaviour. How do you initiate this feedback? Do you first ask the employee if She or he wants to hear the feedback now, or do you slap it in their face?