Many decades ago, in my first job ever, there was an older Cock-
ney woman working alongside me in the laboratory. She was
very friendly but always teasing me. To get my own back I once
crept up on her and tapped her on the bottom. She turned
quickly and with a disapproving smile said, ‘Don’t ever do that
again!’ It was a valuable lesson. I had crossed a boundary on to
the wrong side.
It is no good relying on your boss to set the boundary of per-
formance. You have to work it out for yourself. You will need a
similar line in your mind relating to conduct and attitude. This
will be based on your own personal ethic and will determine
whether or not you swear, as many do;
whether or not you are always on time or are late, as many are;
whether or not you talk behind people’s backs, as many do;
whether or not you accept low-quality work, as manydo;
whether or not you tolerate humour based on prejudice (e.g.
making fun of a minority group).
People who are fuzzy about their boundaries (of performance,
conduct and attitude) or have none in their mind readily lose
respect and are difficult to deal with. Few people will know
where they stand with them. The personal boundaries you set
create that understanding. They give you strength and enhance
the respect others will have for you. They will not ‘mess’ with
you because they know you will not tolerate let alone display
such transgression. Equally you will not ‘mess’ with them when
you know their boundaries.
In one transport company I worked for (as a consultant) it
seemed that every other front-liner used the ‘f ’ word in every
other sentence. The easier decision would have been to cross the
boundary into obscenity and use the word myself (and thus
Set Yourself Boundaries