difficult conversations and colleagues

day 6


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Video transcript

Hello everybody an welcome to Day 6 of Searching for Serenity's 7 day video tutorial series dealing with difficult conversations and colleagues.

Today I want to get straight into it.

This is something that always comes from experience, confidence and the knowledge of what you are doing but for many of us it is missing from the early parts of our career and it is in fact the first thing to go out the window is we suffer knocks to our confidence.

Personal boundaries.

What do I mean by boundaries?  They are a slightly intangible concept! They are the limit of your reasonable expectations and behaviours.  They set the limit of what people can and can't do around you, what behaviour you will accept or what you will find unacceptable but most importantly they are the limit, and by limit I mean what you will enforce around you, in other people's behaviour and expectations.

Boundaries are so important because they are not just about keeping other people at certain distance.  They are also about knowing yourself very well and reinforcing what is and is not acceptable to you as an individual.

Of course, boundaries vary massively from person to person but it is so important in a work context because it really does come down to what is important to you and how you will deal as an individual.

Good boundaries are based on the premise that other people's feelings and emotions are not more important than your own.  This entire concept is about putting yourself first.

I imagine that you have had a few problems with this concept this week.

The women who come to me are intensely empathetic which means that they immediately pick up on the emotions and feelings of others and tend to put themselves last.  But that is how you got here; you've spent far too long working far too hard and not being able to say no.

If you had good boundaries in place, saying no would be far less of an issue.

Now, putting in place and maintaining boundaries isn't going to stop you having the days, weeks or months where you have too much on and too much to do but it does help you to reinforce how you feel as an individual.  It stops you taking on too much work just because your boss is stressed, because that will stop you spending so much time with your family for example.

It is also incredibly important because, when dealing with difficult people, you need to know where the line is.  

This will vary from person to person depending on their own boundaries but your own boundaries will adjust depending on who you are talking to; you would probably accept far more familiar or even slightly aggressive behaviour from someone you know very well but that you have great admiration and respect for, than Joe Bloggs off the street who speaks to you in the same way.  
You will accept more form certain people than others, but you need to study those boundaries to ensure that they are still healthy when they adapt for other people.

The first premise of the boundary is that other people's emotions and feelings are not more important than your own.  This often centres around saying no.  So in the example that I gave earlier, accepting overtime because the boss is stressed would demonstrate a failure to consider your own reasonable boundaries, by failing to consider your own physical and emotional health before that of someone else.

It might also be that taking on this extra work is going to make you stressed, leaving you working until the early hours of the morning but you still just can't say no.  This is an issue not just of boundaries, but of the confidence in your decision.

So, we are going to consider our boundaries very carefully and, if necessary, practice what you need to do to say no.

There is nothing worse than working with someone who simply doesn't care.  Who, when the team is struggling, says 'I'm off' and leaves the team to pull their extra weight by themselves.  But there is nothing wrong (and I will keep repeating this!) there is nothing wrong with saying no to additional responsibility, to no to working late, to saying no to the last minute, last second 'I need this right now' request.

However (and there is always a 'however' with me, typical lawyer) the caveat to saying no is that there has to be  good reason, and sometimes you have to be able to explain that reason.

A good example would be that I run over to your desk a 5.10pm just as you have shut down, put your coat on and are about to leave for a really lovely date night with your other half, and I say to you 'this has come in, it's very urgent and has to be done right now'.  At that moment you have a choice.  You may not always realise it, but you do have a choice.

You can say yes I will help out, and damn the consequences, or you can say no.  It is a weighing up exercise, just like an old fashioned pair of weighing scales.  on the one side you have your own physical and emotional needs, your boundaries, your reasonable behaviour and on the other side, the request form this other person.

If the request comes from a boss who treats you very well, encourages you to take time off in lieu; if the request that has come in affects the financial affairs or health and wellbeing of someone else, then you might consider that it is more important to ensure the safety and wellbeing of others than to put yourself first.

Good boundaries will ensure that you take all the factors into consideration.

What if that request comes on your anniversary, you know your other half is going to be very angry and upset if you work late, you have worked late every night this week so that you could leave on time tonight, the colleague who has brought the work over always seems to have these emergencies because they just can't manage their own caseload and time, then you might consider that this is outside of your boundaries and that you would say no to the request.

The key thing is the explanation.  I don't think for a second that you should tell your colleague that they are a crap timekeeper and so you're not going to help, but being able to explain your own justification means that you have considered your own boundaries and that declining the request is right for you.

I want you to practice today considering your own boundaries and the extent to which you will say yes or no or to also consider what boundaries you have in place at the moment.

By virtue of the fact that you are here and are asking for help with difficult conversations and colleagues, my assumption would be that your boundaries needing shoring up a little.

You need to consider how often you say no to others, how often you put others first, and how often you don't say no to other people because of a lack of confidence in your boundaries.

If any of those ring true for you then now is the time to stand up and say I am not going to take this any more; that is the learning point of today!

So how to practice your boundaries?  Consider what they are and then consider where you want them to be.  

If something is really causing you stress r concern or health issues because it's working into the early hours, taking work home ,taking on the responsibilities of others, consider whether that really is something that you want to be 'the norm' for you. 

Thereafter, if its s outside of your boundaries, you can weigh it up in your old-fashioned weighing scales and consider whether it is something that you choose to do on this occasion, or whether it is something that you choose to walk away from because it is beyond what is reasonable for you.
It really is that simple although it may not feel like it initially.

If this is something that you need to practice to reinforce then I would encourage you to go back to the role-play video.  Run each of the scenarios in your head, but make sure that they re clearly definable, objective scenarios and not anxiety-laden subjective issues.  There is a big difference between what really could happen, and what, in the wee hours of the morning when you have not had enough sleep, you think might happen.
That is it for today.  Consider those and if you need more help then you can reach out to me via hello@searchingforserenity.co.uk or reach out in the Searching for Serenity Facebook group - simply add a message and tag me in it.

DO take the time to practice this and reach out if you need more help with your boundaries because this is something that will stand you in great stead for the future.  Of course, over time and as your responsibilities change and you grow as a person, those boundaries will need to change and grow with you.

Good luck with this exercise today and let me know how you get on.
Otherwise, I will be back in your inbox tomorrow for the 7th and final tutorial in this series where we will be doing a recap and bringing all the pieces together for something that will really help you moving forward.

Have an amazing day, bye for now!