Boundaries are an important element of any relationship. When we know ourselves, we feel comfortable letting others know what we will and won't put up with. It's not something we have to announce loudly. It is just something that we honor internally and state as fact or act upon when needed. As a professional, it is even more important to make our boundaries transparent. Our clients need to know what our role is, what we see as acceptable behavior and what will not be tolerated, and how we will respond if a boundary is crossed. As an example, I talk with my clients about excessive anger at our first session. I share that over the years I have found that excessive anger, particularly as a repetitive pattern, does more harm than good. I offer that being angry is normal. What is destructive is expressing anger to the point that others feel intimidated. I alert my clients that if I see this happening, I will suggest a break, ask to meet one-on-one, or if it happens repetitively, terminate the mediation. Everyone knows before we begin what is and isn't acceptable in my process.
Boundaries can help us to operate more effectively. They can help us as the mediator, attorney or other helping professional to feel safe and in control of our process. At the same time, they honor our clients by allowing them to choose whether or not they want to work with someone like us.
What boundaries do you establish as a professional and why?