How to cope with those who don't know...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Nomad, May 8, 2008.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    their boundaries.
    I've had repeated episodes in my life where I have had trouble (and trouble is an understatement) coping with folks who don't know their boundaries.

    Made up examples of this might be a co-worker who takes your parking space at work. A friend who calls too much and its not even remotely aware that the amount of times they call is over the top.

    Ironically, I'm actually fairly decent about giving folks the benefit of the doubt and I'm generous and kind with my friends. (Although I have my sensitivities to be sure).

    But...I have this big thing with boundaries...and I DO believe it was worsened by having a difficult child.

    At some point, we learn that for the most part, if you insist that people respect your boundaries, that they back off. Not so much with a difficult child.

    Recently, I have met an adult difficult child at work. She is stepping on my boundaries. I have tried repeatedly to tell her what the boundaries are. She either barely gets it or doesn't get it at all.

    I'm working part time. Surely those here who work full time have seen this before.

    What coping strategies have you found helpful? How do you avoid confrontations? Is there really ANY effective way to get an adult difficult child to stop exhibiting inappropriate/unhelpful behavior?

    Thank you.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I'm a total sap and it takes me forever and a day to react to something. Now that I'm older (ahem) I am much more assertive, which means halfway between sap and truly assertive. So I am the worst person to ask.
    I would suggest pulling the coworker aside and nicely informing him/her that they have taken your pkng spot (or whatever) and you feel certain they weren't aware of it, but tomorrow they'll surely remember. Then get to work early and make sure you get your own spot. It's awful to make a big deal out of something that may not be but that's the point--you have to be assertive and communicate quickly and clearly so it doesn't become a big deal.
    So sorry.
  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member


    I've found that in this type of situation, the usual polite forms don't seem to make it through. Some people have found that bad behaviour WILL get them their way, because other people are not willing to confront them, or less willing to push the limits of appropriate social behaviour, so they get away with it.

    Sending a clear, unequivocal signal that you will not put up with it will sometimes resolve the matter. If that doesn't work, then you have a case for taking it up with your manager or HR or something.

    Years ago I had a co-worker who was notorious for pushing other people's boundaries and behaving inappropriately. At one point, he made a very suggestive comment and called me a (yuck) endearment (think "Toots", although that wasn't it). In a room full of people. I just stopped in my tracks, and said "Don't ever speak to me like that again."

    A few weeks later in a team meeting, he used a racial epithet that was clearly targeted at me, as I was the only one of that race in the room. Again, I called him on it, directly, and in front of the room full of our teammates.

    He left me alone after that. (The guy later got fired for embezzling money from the company. He truly was a difficult child)

    I'm not sure if this parallels your situation in any way, but I hope that you can find something useful in it.

    Hope you don't have to put up with the boundary crossing much longer.