Now that you have taken on some responsibility for the “He got in my area” scenario by reading my previous post and establishing personal boundaries, lets discuss enforcement of these bounds. There are truly advantages to understanding what is acceptable and unacceptable for you even if you have yet to handle authorities because clarity is key and provides you with the motivation to proceed to another step.
What to do?
Pull out your list of what’s acceptable and unacceptable to you which you made while reading my initial “He Got In My Space” article. Okay, moment’s up. Now, consider the first unacceptable item on your list. What you may DO if somebody gets close to crossing that line? What will you say? Should you warn them ahead of time or wait until it happens?
These are all great questions so I’ll discuss some significant but all-too-often-learned-too-late info to assist you before I answer them. It’s much easier to establish and enforce private boundaries once you first meet somebody than to alter the rules mid-relationship. Your loved ones, friends and coworkers have been treating you a certain way for many years might not take well into the game change, particularly if they have been mistreating you or taking advantage of you.
You’re likely to feel empowered with the authorities of your new personal boundaries but they might feel frustrated, restricted and mad so be ready. Also realize that enforcing personal boundaries is a catalyst for cleaning out toxic friendships. They generally leave on their own as they can no longer receive a power fix from slipping on you. This saves you time and effort but the understanding of who your true friends aren’t may be debilitating. With children, we’re accustomed to letting them know the rules up front so that should work together.
For instance: to a verbally abusive teenager, “From today on, talk respectfully or say nothing whatsoever.” Then tell them the results if they cross the line (now you know where the line is). With colleagues and family, based on the circumstance, being ready for the next time may be the smartest choice. For instance: a boyfriend makes a joke at your expense before people (at your cost means it hurts your feelings). You say, “Honey, when you joked about me in front of our friends, I felt hurt. Did you want me to feel hurt?” This puts the ball in his court, either to realize his error, apologize and prevent it in the future or acknowledge being hurtful on purpose in which case the connection just ended.
A good guideline is to ascertain what the risk is of someone crossing every personal boundary and determine the verbal response (never putting blame since that just causes defensiveness and defeats your purpose) and bodily reaction to that breach. The physical response could be removing yourself from a place of the workplace by walking away, telling your abusive 19 year old it is time to move out, leaving a celebration earlier than anticipated or leaving a relationship entirely.
Real Life Story
One of bodily enforcements was leaving an outside restaurant when a patron refused to extinguish his cigarette once the smoke was blowing across my desk. My verbal enforcement did not work. I asked the waiter to ask him but she was more interested in a fantastic tip from him and did not do it. I asked him well and he refused. Some interesting things happened.
- On my way out, I told the supervisor why I was leaving and the host refused to help. He apologized and offered me a free dinner for two to return again.
- The server was obviously uncomfortable with her cowardly choice and appeared to feel bad.
- Other patrons felt the exact same way I did and were clearly surprised that she did not say something to the smoker so I hope they did not tip her and if she was supportive.
You might be asking “Was it all worth it?” To me, certainly, because breathing smoke during my meal could have caused bitterness and anger, not to talk of an unhealthy lunch. To the host, I feel a adjustment in attitude and behaviour will happen. And for the other patrons that noticed this very quiet situation, I believe they assessed what they’d have done and admired someone for standing up for what they believe in a respectful manner. If what I did is not something you would do this is why we are working on PERSONAL boundaries. They are private to each individual. So now you know how to talk to the man who gets on your area or crosses the line and what you will do if the breach persists. You’ve done what many people never do and I congratulate you on implementing private boundaries for your own mental, emotional and physical security.