Today at work, we were installing a roof. Mid morning, Tim barked at me, “Throw me a tape measure!”
(Keep in mind, I am the boss).
I looked at Tim and said, “What’s the magic word?”
I turned to look at Jason (another crew member) on the ground who was smirking and rolling his eyes at the exchange.
“If the people who work at McDonald’s can say please and thank you, so can we.” 😉 Just because some construction crews can’t talk nice to each other, doesn’t mean this one won’t!”
I said all of this in a light-hearted fashion, but meant every word of it.
Tim started working for me a month ago. On his last job he was a foreman so he is used to ordering people around.
The second week with me, he decided to tag me with the nick name “Smiley.” Two weeks later, he was using it several times a day, and I told my wife one evening I was going to have to say something, because it wasn’t just the name, but how he said it. I felt like he was mocking me. I could feel a low-grade anger starting to build. Well before I could have that conversation, Tim said “Hey Smiley” one too many times. We did have a conversation. It lasted about 15 seconds, and he is no longer calling me “smiley”.
What I have been doing in all of this is establishing boundaries. Boundaries as in what I will and will not tolerate in how someone treats me. This is all relatively new territory for me as a person. Until 10 years ago, I would never have had either one of those interactions with Tim.
I was a people pleaser.
People pleaser: The intense need to please other people that is usually deeply rooted in a fear of rejection.
I raised four kids into adulthood.
Does it still happen? (People pleasing.)
Sure, but not to the same degree.
Talking to my wife about this topic I observed personality types definitely come into play here. I know a guy who serves on his city counsel. He doesn’t care if the whole town is against him on an issue. It’s not even on his radar. His battles are in other areas.
I shared the following quote on Facebook recently:
Boundary issues. Some of us have people in our lives who do not respect our boundaries. They talk down to us, treat us with disrespect, there are dozens of ways this can play itself out. You may even be related to them…
I’ve mentioned boundaries a lot, how important they are, and the necessity of having healthy limits. I didn’t always have an accurate understanding of what healthy boundaries are. That’s the unfortunate result of the way most of us learned to cope as children. If we didn’t see boundaries modeled, chances are we don’t have any, or we put up walls instead.
Boundaries are limits or boarders that outline a person’s ownership and responsibility. Imagine a garden full of vegetables and flowers. The gardener works on her flower and vegetable beds- planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting. As she labors, visitors stop by. Some are welcome; some are unwelcome. The welcome visitors respect the garden bed – they’re careful not to tread on plants, they ask relevant questions about the flowers and vegetables, they may even identify and pull out a weed or two while they chat. The unwelcome visitors are careless about where they step; they pluck flowers without asking; they point out that the tomatoes look small.
To keep the unwelcome visitors out of the garden, the gardener needs a fence, a boundary. The fence needs a gate to let in the welcome visitors, and the gate needs to have a lock on the inside to keep out those who do not respect the garden and the crops. Notice that the gardener doesn’t build a wall. Unwelcome visitors may stop by and look at the flowers and vegetables, but the boundaries keep the beds from being trampled and the flowers from being taken. The gardener decides who can join her in the garden, who must stay outside, and whom to share her flowers and vegetables with. With the boundary, her space is protected and she’s in control of it. As she shares and chats with her welcome visitors, they both benefit.
Thoughts, comments, questions?
Do you have any difficult people in your life that violate your boundaries on occasion? What does that look like? DM
Picture of me setting another kind of boundary.