Last week, television host Steve Harvey demonstrated the wrong way to set boundaries in the workplace.
In a staff memo leaked to the press, Harvey wrote, “Do not come to my dressing room unless invited . . . Do not approach me while I’m in the makeup chair unless I ask to speak with you directly.”
Naturally, his demands were derided. Though he mostly stands by them — “I’m getting ambushed,” he told “Entertainment Tonight” — he did concede, “I probably should have handled it a little bit differently.”
Here, experts offer up ideas for better ways to set healthy boundaries with colleagues.
If something’s bothering you, speak up quickly, says Melody Wilding, a career coach and professor in human behavior at CUNY Hunter College. “Harvey’s memo is what happens when you let people step over your boundaries. It gets to a point where you lash out.”
Talk it out
A note won’t cut it here, says Joel Mausner, a psychologist who specializes in workplace conflict resolution: “People can read all sorts of things between the lines of an e-mail.”
Find common ground
If you can get your colleague to relate to your problem — and avoid playing the blame game — you’ll have better luck, says Mausner. Say something like: “I’m having trouble focusing when I get interrupted so frequently. It’s making it hard for me to accomplish my work. Do you ever struggle with that? Would you be willing to work with me on this?”