03 230712 “Just say no,” “toughen up,” “call us back when you get fired,” and other advice that doesn’t work in a toxic work environment
11:20PM Sep 20, 2023
Megan Goering Mellin
Just Say No, toughen up, tell us back when you get fired. A lot of us have heard some bad advice that doesn't work in a toxic work environment. But today we're going to talk about what works instead. And the answer is boundaries. What are they boundaries are unique to each of us. And they are as unique and specific to the situations that we find ourselves in at work. And today, Meredith is going to help us illuminate how we can execute boundaries effectively in the workplace, when it's a little bit more complicated, especially the farther we go in our career or in a given company. Thank you for joining us. And Meredith, thank you for your willingness to share about this really salient topic. Hey,
I'm excited. So I think first, we have to sort of say, what are we talking about when we talk about boundaries, because some people have different definitions of boundaries. So when I'm talking about boundaries, I think of boundaries as similar to a property boundary, like a personal boundary is like the boundary that's around your house. So just like we know, if our neighbor comes into our home without knocking, that's a violation, probably, unless we've given them permission to, we know when someone's coming into our space and violating our personal boundaries. Boundaries can be physical, they can be emotional, spiritual, or energetic, they can be intellectual, they can, and they are all nuanced to us. Some people will sort of say that you're not allowed to have a boundary, if it's not the same boundary is what they have. But we all get to define our own boundaries. Because we know who we are some, some people also define boundaries a little bit differently. And they include sort of our expectations for how other people behave around us. And I think that that is fair, and can be a way that we use boundaries, and that we think of boundaries. But at a base level, the way I like to start thinking about it is just as the line between us and another person, it's not necessarily the agreements we've made with the other person, it's not necessarily our expectation of how they behave that doesn't cross into our space is just what crosses into our space.
Got it. So the second part is like, the expectations would be like, well, at the last team, all of my direct reports sent me a birthday card, and I don't feel like I can have a great relationship with you, unless you're sending me birthday cards. Like that's not what we're talking about. In this case, that might be an expectation, that might be an agreement, like, you know, one team member brings a birthday cake for the other person, and then the other person brings a team, you know, birthday cake for the next person. That's what we're talking about here. What we're talking about is the is the boundaries, like property, boundaries, like your physical space, your emotional space, your intellectual kind of respect that you need to get the job done. One other thing that I love, that we talk about, sometimes around that house analogy, or like somebody coming, stepping on to somebody else's property is that you might invite your friend over, or frankly, you might invite an electrician over to come into your house and like go mess around with the circuit board or the breaker box in your house. But if your mother in law comes in and you know is has been invited to have tea in the living room, and then just walks to your breaker box and starts to having a fork in the breakers, like this is actually it's not the same situation as the electrician scenario. And I think it sounds simple, when you look at it in a house like of course, the kids that you invited over for a birthday party are not supposed to be going through your financial files, like in house, it makes perfect sense. But sometimes in work environments, it can get very, very blurry, especially when there are people who are not in a great habit of being curious about other's needs and preferences in their own lives. And then there they are in the workplace. They think that everybody else should permit and celebrate their behavior, no matter what the impact of that behavior is. And then in our personal lives, we might just distance from that person. But in the workplace, they could be on your team. They could be a manager, they could be a crucial direct report or a peer. And so the normal thing was like, well, we're just not going to be as closer friends with that person. And we're not going to have them over on Christmas. It's not actually the same set of rules that you're in, in the workplace situation.
Right. So I always tell the story. I'm like really early, I think I was still in law school. At this point. I had the opportunity to read the Student Conduct hearing. And there was a student at this university who a number of grad he was a graduate student and there were a number of women who were graduate students who had reported him for touching them. I'm in the computer lab touching them different times and, and so they were testifying, and then the women testified, you know, I've told him not to touch me. I've told him my personal space is important to me. I've told him, this is triggering to me. I've tried to communicate, I've tried to communicate my boundaries over and over. And he keeps touching me. And then you read on to the the man's testimony. And he says, well, they keep talking about their boundaries, but what if my boundary is to touch them? Hmm. And I think that that sort of is a common,
it's cold cultural conflicts. I mean, in places where there is an issue, usually there is some kind of difference of opinions like this in play, people, a manager that I worked with, would make comments on people's appearance and who was very beautiful, and how to become more beautiful in the workplace, and just a lot of comments, appreciating and coaching, advancement of one's attractiveness and appearance. And that was for them, that was like a really important expression of their, you know, opinion, appreciation, frankly, for other people, that was very important. And for other people in the workplace, who were from like a different work context, that was offensive or dangerous, because some people from other cultures have learned if actually, we are to forward with appearance at work in some way, we will be then held to account for inviting, you know, the wrong kind of attention. But you know, for the manager giving the feedback, it was like blindsiding that everyone was not very supported, right. So there is a culture conflict, the way that it actually shows up, which can be very, very tricky. When you're on the side of feeling discomfort,
right? I even had a client one time, say, and talk about. So this is not a work context. But it was a situation with her husband, where they had had a number of fights, and about money, and he would sort of criticize her about her use of money. And then she had told him, I have my own, like she had her own income, they had separate bank accounts, you're not invited to comment about my use of money. And so one night at dinner, he made a comment about some orange pillows she had bought in and put by their pool, and it just sent her off the chart, she was so mad, that he would do it. But if we treat that comment and treat that statement, as a boundary violation, so she had said, speaking about money, criticizing me about my use of money as a boundary violation. If we treat that as a boundary violation, it can kind of step us out of the space of just being reactive and sitting in the unfairness of it. And also, frankly, in a situation of touching at work, which can be unsafe, in a situation of commenting on people's appearance, which can feel unsafe, like in any of these situations where it can feel unsafe. If we have a structure for how to deal with boundary violations and plan on them happening, then it's not as actually unsafe, you can still experience someone having unsafe behavior, or just behavior that is like, not what you want to tolerate for any reason. It doesn't have to be unsafe to be behavior you don't want to tolerate coming into your space. And and then you can have steps for handling it and not have to take yourself out of the situation. Or just sit in that space of feeling disrespected, feeling dehumanized, feeling afraid. So for me when I was in my workplace situation. The biggest thing for me that was a boundary violation is my boss would put his hand on my shoulder. And like, to me, in my mind, I was describing it like he's massaging my back all the time, he won't stop touching me. It felt very scary. And I was sort of like, you know, I have to work late at night, and he's the only person here this could escalate to something dangerous. But ultimately, when you reduce it to I don't want people to put their hands on my shoulder at work. Like that's true for anybody. To me. That's a zero times event experience at work. I just don't appreciate being touched at work. It wasn't even about him. Although it was it felt scarier because it was him. But we can say I don't appreciate when people comment on my use of money. I don't appreciate when people describe me. Like that, honestly, is a very common boundary. Humans do not appreciate being described, even if you're trying to compliment them. They tend to did not like it. And so if you can reduce it to this as just a boundary that I have in my space, it becomes more clear. And even if there is somebody like the Student Conduct hearing, who believes that their boundary overlaps with yours, you are still allowed to enforce your boundary, as you see fit. Sometimes there are consequences for that, right. So if he believes his boundary overlaps with hers, and he needs to enforce his right to violate her boundary, it's not a real boundary at that point, honestly, because people have their own autonomy and their own bodily integrity. So that's obviously not like a real thing that is more invasion and control because it's not about his space, it's about going into her space. However, like even in that situation, like if he wants to enforce his boundary of touching her, then there may be consequences for him. There may be criminal consequences for him ultimately, because as a society, we've agreed that some boundaries are enforceable in the law, other boundaries are still valid, and they're not enforceable by law.
And I think part of empowered communication, and part of the process is educating ourselves about where those really like enforceable boundaries are like somebody to come in and say, you know, you know, kids play finders keepers, right, finders keepers. But if somebody comes to your house, and they say finders keepers, at least in this century, we're like, that's not a thing. Right now, there's a lot of politics in history to that, like that is what we did before. But now the power structure that we live in right now is not doing that anymore. So like it doesn't, it doesn't actually hold up, someone can pretend finders keepers, or they can pretend I get to touch whoever I want and the computer lab, but actually, when you move forward with that argument, it will fall apart. But you might not know that coming in, especially if you haven't done the thing you said, you said plan a winning strategy on this is to plan on boundary violations happening in the workforce. I don't think we come out of college wanting that. I don't think a lot of our educators train kids that way or a lot of parents, right, because when people are young and they're developing, we're trying to toe this line with not horrifying people about adulthood while still preparing them. But as adults in the workforce, I just think that is some of the most compassionate and grounding advice possible to plan on them happening. And then just like you know, you live in Tornado Alley, or you live in a hurricane area, like you have a process in place, so that at least you are not stunned, shocked and flabbergasted. Which by the way, if this is your first time talking about these issues are not your fault. Your body actually has systems in it that will freeze you when you think you are in danger. And there's a lot of really interesting neuroscience to that there's some really interesting neuroscience on using breath to reset some of those responses. Dr. Luskin is a really good expert on that. So if you found yourself frozen, please just know this is not your fault. All is not lost. And if we can retract a little bit to a safe place to talk through some of these issues, to recalibrate and to to imagine planning for this to happen, then we can get plans in place for both the egregious situations the computer lab creeper whether it's in college or in your workplace, I feel like we can all there's could be a coffee machine creeper and your workplace right or the accounting creeper. It could be any field sorry, accountants, I don't need to single you out. But we plan on them happening. And then we have a roadmap both for really egregious, physically unsafe breaches and for the nuanced ones. I would love to Okay,
also before you move on other really great resources for freeze. When you notice yourself freezing our Peter Levine's book waking the tiger and the book Complex PTSD from surviving to thriving, those are two, they have really practical strategies for if you notice yourself freezing over and over again or not enforcing boundaries, but we're going to talk more about that in other episodes too. But those are just really foundational trauma books that are amazing.
That reinforces like there are biological lock up responses at play here. And so the most important message, if this is affected you is it is not your fault. And also contrary to a lot of movie stuff that you see. I did high school debate and there was like this kooky phrase people said that was like silence is compliance. Sounds is not compliance, and it's not consent. And if you didn't say it before, because you were locked up and you couldn't, you just couldn't actually access your motor system to respond, it's just really important that you begin from a place that even if you've never, you know, doesn't have to be a fight back. But even if you have not yet intervened in a dynamic that is not working for you, you have not given away what you need in order to say this doesn't work. And honestly, it could have worked yesterday. But if today is when it hit a threshold, or maybe today, you just woke up with a different sense of what you require for yourself and the path that you're on. That is also okay. There's a wonderful educator I used to work with who would say consent is this person, this action? And this moment, right? I think so often we are trained about this whole rule system was okay, yesterday, we have to defend it. And there is no litigation that has to happen in this. It's what works in the moment.
And I think consent, also if we really are building towards an empowered communication process, and, and like healthy, safe, challenging communications, like this, consent exists not just with physical touch, but it exists with like, bringing up a charged topic to talk to you about someone it exists with describing someone as a person, like we can encounter situations based on consent, and based on agreement expecting agreement expecting the other person to have a say, in how things go. And that's more from the side of like, if we have realized that we might be violating other people's boundaries, but it's also okay to expect to ask yourself, I guess, have I consented to this? Is this okay with me? Why is my body having this response in this moment, if something feels like a violation, sometimes I think that boundary violations are across the board, they are all or nothing like they are just a personal policy of I do not tolerate being touched at work. I do not tolerate people describing me I do not tolerate. I don't even people misgendering me or people using mixing up my name with the other person who's the same race as me, whatever those those things aren't, can be universal. Other times, like you were saying, they are more nuanced. And it is a moment by moment by moment, I found for myself, that sometimes I can realize something's a boundary with one person, I can set it as a personal policy, and then it's just easy going forward. Because I always know that that's a personal policy. For me, like for me, I just had this come up recently, where like ghosting is a boundary violation for me. But I set that as a policy like, years and years ago with a situation where I had a friend who repeatedly would cancel after I was already at a location or like 10 minutes before. And it just was really disrupting things for me. And so I was like, I need to set this as a boundary violation. But the reason to set it that we want to talk about also is so that you know how to enforce that boundary and to take back control of enforcing that boundary for ourselves. Sometimes we don't even need to communicate a boundary to the other person, we just need to have a plan for how we enforce it to keep ourselves safe and to reward ourselves. When there's when there's a violation that happens.
Okay, so I love this example of ghosting, right? Because in the ghosting situation, or, for example, I once had a manager who was recurringly very, very late to our one on one meetings. And my understanding was that they were not necessarily late to other people's I was in a different timezone. But it's a little bit hard to contextualize is that I got caught up and being like, well, is this personal to me? Or is this just how they are with everybody? Now, that was me. Now I know, that was me kind of getting on their side of the fence, right? Even if they were late with everybody, it may or may not work for me and set me up for success. So even if we were late for everybody, it's you know, I was kind of looking at that as like, oh, well, maybe I won't mention it. Now. If it's if it doesn't work for me to wait for 19 minutes for a 30 minute one on one to begin then then and that doesn't work. Just like your ghosting example. That is a good time to get in communication. But I love the ghosting one, at least outside of work because you're not going to go to someone's house and pull them out of bed and drag them to the movie with you if they've ghosted you, like it's not enforceable, it's too exhausting. You're not going to like send them hate mail for three weeks telling them how sad they made you. So when there is a boundary, and there's a violation or like you know it didn't you told your friend like this is important to me or your colleague is well aware that you have requested, you know, notice that the five minute mark, how do you decide what those consequences will be? And in particular, please tell us more about this rewarding yourself idea because I think there's a lot going on there. Yeah, so
it's again nuanced. I think that's part of the point of all of this. So when you're deciding what a consequence is going to be the consequences about you, and about your needs and what you need in that moment, it's not about the person who's violated the boundaries. When we are fixated on correcting their behavior, what we end up doing is putting a lot of energy towards them to help them be a better person. This is a person who you already know is willing to violate your boundaries, you might love them, you might think they're an amazing person, you might respect them, you might think that they're the best mentor that you've ever had, they might be someone who's awesome, you might want to put energy towards helping them be a better person, but you need to decide that separately than enforcing your boundary, your boundary is yours. And you deserve to have it regardless of how much you love the other person, respect them or hate them, like it doesn't,
if you want their approval, fine, but give the boundary in place first and then think about the additional energy as an extra that like get it flat on the boundary front. And then you can also do other side projects, right?
Or audit, I A lot of times see this come up with racism, right? Like you have a like this is just a very common dynamic between, like a, for example of black woman leader, with a white woman leader above her like that, it's just a common dynamic where the black woman leader will kind of like the white woman leader will say, Oh, I'm so invested in dei work, I'm invested in anti racism, I'm doing all this work, but then also, like weaponized white supremacy against the black manager, unconsciously right? And then that's a boundary violation for the black woman. And so the black woman then is like, do I educate this person? Do I put that extra labor into helping her which is okay to do. But also, first, your boundaries are important, you deserve your boundaries, irrelevant. It's irrelevant. How well intended or how much good work the other person is doing. And it's also okay to educate. I know I said that already, but like it like it's okay to educate. It's great to educate it's amazing public service. If you're in a place though, where you've had boundaries violated attend to, there's a Buddhist, a Buddhist saying, I think it's a Pema children story. And she says, if you're in the woods, someone shoots an arrow and it goes into your heart, you should attend to the wound first before you go find the person who shot the arrow to tell them not to shoot arrows in the woods, you know, to give
them their arrow back. Right. We just like also how we overcorrect we're like, oh, no, they were trying to hunt for food. And I'm bad food, you know, and you stagger through the forest, ripping it out of your heart tears. Last object, this also a very simple way that I think we need to just land this is like it's putting your own oxygen mask on first. Once you have it on, you can use all that oxygen to like, you know, help people understand what it's like to interact in the 21st century. But if you're we need to separate right, we're going to do education with the oxygen flowing. So that happens first. So
like so the enforcement for yourself is attending to what do I need right now that would make this safe. And the three the checklist that I go through in any situation like this, especially a physical boundary violation situation, but also any time that my body is kind of alerting me like Danger, danger. This feels uncomfortable. This feels bad. I literally go through this checklist even though it can sound funny. Do I need to call 911? Right now, if somebody is touching my body without my consent, then I may have 911 as a resource if somebody is coming into my home, without my consent, I may have 911 as a resource do I need to call my trusted neighbor? If I don't trust 911? Do I need to call my most trusted friend? Or my tallest, strongest friend? Like if I don't trust 911? But do I need to call somebody and get this physically out of my space and removed? Second question, do I need to leave this room right now to protect myself? And then I say to myself, I am allowed to leave any room that I'm in ever always. That is just 100% of the time rule. If there is a consequence for me from leaving a room, I'm willing to accept that consequence. Because my safety comes first and and the whole safety of the room frankly comes first. And me leaving contributes if it contributes to safety for me, it contributes to safety for other people. I'm always allowed to leave a room do I need to call 911 Whatever that means for you even if nine one on ones not a safe resource for you. Do I need to leave this room? Third question is what do I need right now. And then that can kind of give give insight both into the safety component and into the reward component. So if you're looking at what do I need right now, in terms of safety, sometimes that just means going into the bathroom and crying. Sometimes it means shutting a door and locking it. Sometimes it means calling a friend and venting about what just happened. Sometimes it means writing in a journal, what happened and venting it there. Sometimes it means reporting to HR, it can mean a lot of different things, it can mean getting in your car, and driving to Starbucks, whatever it means that create what is safe for you, listening to a meditation, what creates safety for you, that puts somehow literally safety into the bubble of your space right now. And then sometimes that's enough for people and they're not ready to step to the reward side, but I love the reward side of things. And that's where it gets really fun. Because one, that's where you can kind of mess with people who are repeat boundary violators. But to that's where you really come to yourself and treat yourself as though you are a worthy whole human who deserves the respect that you're not getting from the boundary violator. So one way to decide how how do you want to reward yourself, when you encounter a boundary violation is you say, if I saw saw someone who was like me in this situation, but who's not me, someone I love someone who I treat as a best friend? What would I do for them, that would reward them and help them shift their day that would help them have the beautiful, wonderful day that I know they deserve? If I saw a innocent child, who had their boundary violated, how would I go to that child, and, like, offer them something that's going to help them grow up knowing that they deserve respect, and that they are a wonderful whole person? And remind
them that that's not okay. You know, even though somebody did it, it wasn't about them, you know, it resets the the, the deeper violation, it's not just like somebody came across your property, like if somebody's house gets robbed, and they get the insurance claim, and they put all their stuff back, there's still a lingering issue there, right, because it hasn't been repaired, and you now know that it can be broken. So I think it's so valuable to do the, like the innocent child piece, because they don't just need, you know, their lollipop back, they need to know that actually, even though some people will, you know, stuff happens, right, you know, lightning strikes your house or whatever, but it's also not okay. And it is not it, we need to reset the reminder that it's not okay. And it's not free, if that continues to happen to you. I think that that addresses the longer term.
I think that's that is so valuable. And so true. I also think that we're allowed to have boundaries bound, like to set boundaries that are more sensitive than that, and that are more nuanced than that. And that in other spaces might be okay for someone else. So we're allowed to have a boundary that is like, so for example, for me with ghosting, I used to have a standing lunch date with somebody, and they would cancel like, twice a month, 10 minutes before, but we mostly met for lunch all the time. So like, canceling 10 minutes before, is not the worst thing in the world, but it didn't interfere with my day. But it's not something where I would go to somebody and say, you don't deserve that you're better than the you know, it's just not that level of problem to me. But it kept bothering me and bothering me. And then I decided, okay, I still want to have lunch with this person, I still love this person. They're still awesome. And I'm always going to make an equally good or better plan. Every time I make I make a plan for lunch with them like, and I'm gonna ask them when we make a plan, like are you committed to showing up there? Or is this a tentative thing so that I know ahead of time, but I'm also going to always know I have a equally good or better thing lined up. That's awesome. So if they cancel, I'm like, yay. Now I get to go have a full ice cream lunch or whatever.
And you chose that and that was also within your control. And also it was a result of your creativity. So it's not like you go and hack into their bank account and steal their money to buy yourself ice cream, but you're just like No, when x happens that is undesirable. I am going to be sure that the day I have like the downswing in my day, actually the comes a secret treat or a left. And so you know, you're always taken care of because you created something that is at least equally delightful to a world in which everything went the way you originally thought. I think this comes back to planning for it to happen. If you plan for it to happen, then you're like, Well, if it happened, what can I do that doesn't just cause survival, but actually addresses that, the slump we get.
And then I'm not struggling with someone who's not able to meet my expectations to try to convince them to meet my expectations. Right, right. There are some expectations, like, our bodies deserve their integrity, like no one is allowed to touch you without your permission, that can rise to the level of a crime. And there are a lot of people who violate those boundaries. And I'm not saying we need to be vigilant and like always expecting people to touch us without our permission, but it doesn't hurt to know how we want to respond. If that does happen.
And then we're not scared of it. We're not needing to, I think sometimes for for folks who have found ourselves in a situation we did not desire, it can become really anxious to try and figure out well, how will I know that this won't happen in the future? And so this is just the alternative to that. It's like, well, let's say we've learned we can't control everyone and everything that's actually really true. Things do happen. Lightning strikes, it happens. If it happened, what could I put in place? And I think this is like a restorative step, you know, or like a very rejuvenating one. Do you have one more example, Meredith maybe have like a reward type of concept I
do in the workplace? Well, this is somewhat in the workplace. But I get in trouble a little bit with this one. But this is one of my favorite ideas. And I did suggest it to someone in a workplace situation. And she did cackle with the little counter they bring on board. So I just think, you know how so in Germany a while back, I believe they passed a law that made street harassment illegal. And so you get a traffic fine, if you street harass them, but if you can't call if you yell at them, it's a traffic violation. Like, yeah, yeah, right. Not true. I'm not aware of anything like that in the United States. In fact, I'm fairly certain that there's not any kind of street harassment, any kind of login street harassment, however, I think it would be hilarious. If we all decided every time someone gets street harassed, to just say, What's your name? And then look the person up on Venmo and send them $100 charge on Venmo? because either they pay it, or it's hilarious, right?
We just basically you're sending people the bill. Yeah. What the consequences of their actions? Yes. And it's funny. And if they pay it, we got 100 bucks.
Yeah. Or they don't pay it. And it's still funny. But we took
action. I feel like I feel like the cat calling is actually a very good example at work, because there are so many people call them microaggressions. Personally, I think microaggressions are just aggressions that society has minimized. So we have these hostile moments of hostility in these aggressions that work. And again, to go back to our kind of origin for today, the tough and tough enough, yes, advice is right there. But I think one of the, some of the places where we really start leaking our power is where those infractions happen, or they happen to somebody else in your workplace. And then we go home, and we feel we feel horrible, because either we ended up feeling like there was nothing we could do, or that we did nothing. Those are like the two sources of my greatest despair, like in catcalling, or in situations where as a bystander, right, maybe it's not, I have a fair amount of privilege as a white sis hetero woman, like maybe it's not me, but when I don't, when I can't find an action to take. It feels bad, it feels terrible. So like having having a just having that invitation to create a rewarding lift in your day, when you see something that's terrible, that doesn't actually have to control the other person and to doing what you say, but it's you showing yourself that you count on yourself to show up. Like, I think that is just that really expands the ground that we have to exercise our agency.
And I think so I mean, I think that that's really smart to bring it back to these pieces of advice that don't work like this is these are pieces of advice that I hear from lawyers all the time that they tell to employees, just say no toughen up, call us back when you get fired. To me, I think toughen up. OutSmart it are like two of the worst pieces of advice I've ever heard and just say no is fine, but like, very unrealistic and ineffectual. I think toughen up. I think if we think we can toughen up through boundary violations and intellectualize outsmart them that just means that we're figuring out new ways to tolerate boundary violations, which we don't need to do. And I just don't think it's helpful. And I think we are tough. Like who, who has not experienced boundary violations like and been tough and we're fine, we're smart, we're tough. And we deserve to have environments that are respectful and to be empowered to create those environments for self,
another, ourselves and other people. And then just toughen up part. Like, I think there's so many of us even in our generation in the generations before us generations after whether you are a third year college student or a third year, legal, you know, legal professional, you when you toughen up, often the times we then watch the computer lab, creeper, go creep on someone else? Yes. Often enough, doesn't solve that. No, I thought it rolls downhill,
just say yes to yourself and your own safety, like get more sensitive. So we create more thriving environments, and like deal with this, while we're in careers we love, like, go for jobs that we love. Those are the nice thing, in terms of when we walk away, and we're just dwelling on how we didn't do it. We're gonna talk about that in the next episode. And like how we treat ourselves around boundaries, because all of this is for us. It's to create, like, it's not to set an extra expectation. For someone who's experiencing a boundary violation, someone who's experiencing the boundary violation. There's nothing you can do wrong. Like, it's all about caring for yourself, and experimenting and meeting yourself where you are right now. And maybe messing it up even
Yeah, because you don't have to fix the other person or know how to fix the other person in order to have it be very important and valuable to voice your own needs. I want to be sure before we kind of give a Preview for Next time, because we talked about like just saying no, like if someone touches you, and you're like, No, that actually is not a helpful instruction. But I think that you have some really good language for that you shared about like, there you are, you know, getting the back rubs and whatnot, and you ended up kind of, you have a really simple way of saying it. So like someone's touching me at work, like, What's one way that I could respond? It's not just like shouting no, and pointing at them in the face.
Yeah. So I think there's two ways to respond that are basically the same thing. And the first is like a little more gentle. The first is I just need a little bit of space right now. It's fine to say, I just need a little space. Excuse me? Could you back up? Or I'm going to move over here because I need a little space always. Okay. The second way to say the exact same thing is, I don't appreciate being touched at work, could you step back, please. And that sets the overall boundary. The The reason to use the first is if it's more comfortable to you, if you have a trusted relationship with the person and you want to maintain that and you think that it's maybe an accident or just for yourself, if it's more comfortable language, the reason to use the second is that if somebody is violating your, your boundaries, your feelings are never the problem, their actions are the problem. So sometimes when we say I need a little space right now, it kind of tends to indicate that we are the one that's having an unusual response. When we say I don't appreciate being touched at work, we're identifying their behavior as the thing that is crossed the line. And so that can be a nuanced thing, and either are great or my experience is that when we give ourselves permission to enforce our boundaries, we know our language to do it, we naturally know it when we give ourselves permission. But in the next episode, we're going to talk about a lot of how, why we don't do it,
and what gets in the way. And so if you're listening, you know, you might go well, I don't know my language, which I am just going to normalize and say there are many years when I didn't know mine either. And that is part of why we are creating this as a conversation because with all the free stuff we talked about today with all the particularities of the situation, you can be a total beast in your field and you can be the smartest in your class. And often people are right but that that doesn't mean that it doesn't mean that it should somehow be natural or immediate is perfectly okay to take a step back to reassess to update our expectations. Okay, we're actually going to plan for this to still be the reality surprise this is not a post gender post race world. Okay, recalibrate and then put some of these boundaries clarity awareness in place for yourself, and then do our best to stay on exactly the wavelength. We're talking about which is that it gets to be about us about creating safety, about creating a sense of remediation or reward, given the impact of experiencing something that crossed the line, which represents the the conditions under which you can really contribute. So I hope that people are walking away, kind of really realizing how ubiquitous these situations are, and how not alone we all are, having faced them how I was, you know, we were in our 30s, you know, late 20s, and 30s, when we really started figuring stuff out. So if you are at any age along your journey, the stuff is really cusping right now. And that if you have been told that you need to tough it out, if you have been told that just saying no, is the only kind of word that you would need in order to navigate some of these situations, as you're advancing in your career, you're not alone. And that is not all that you need, you have other needs. And this work can kind of help you figure out how to voice those while staying focused on you. Next time, we're going to talk a little bit more about how to do that earlier and earlier. So that like the computer lab, creeper doesn't get like nine people in to a variety of harassing incidents. And we're going to kind of enter this space about how we can get earlier stage and nipping these things in the bud and experiencing ourselves as having a spidey sense of how to correct it when it is is still not completely dragging down our day, knowing that these things are going to happen. Any last words Meredith on boundaries?
No, I think that's it. I think if people want to tell us about their own boundary experience they can go and or even a situation that they're struggling with not sure how to enforce a boundary or how to reward themselves. They can go to Aris resolution.com/story Er, ay s resolution.com. Flush story.
And one last kind of story. That would be really interesting. We kind of touched on this but not completely. If some if you have heard feedback, when you overstep someone's boundary I am actually really inspired you are works well. If you've had a positive experience with someone giving you feedback that actually allowed you to calibrate those would also be really fun stories, because we we as we are fighting to give feedback. Sometimes we forget how gratefully we receive feedback when someone else gets it right. Those who are not committed to continuing to do this kind of stuff. Were like, actually really grateful for someone saying, hey, that didn't work for me. Could you actually and you're like, Oh, my God, of course. So right in and share your stories.
And that also that reminds like, the purpose of boundaries is to build relationships. So for example, when I was talking about the ghosting policy that I have, that came up this week, it was like, I had a lovely conversation with someone and it was just beautiful. And it's someone I love. And I just said, Hey, this didn't feel great to me. Could you do it different next time? And they said, Thank you for telling me and it was not because I didn't love them. It was because I was willing to share with them. What is going to help me thrive in our relationship and in my space. People feel so safe when we can communicate our boundaries clearly. And then also that sometimes there are true predators who don't care.
Yep. And this process is, it is okay to not know at the beginning, and overtime, we differentiate them and we will we will be in your world with some more guidance for those tough times. Thank you for joining us, and we'll see you next time.