Saturday, September 17, 2016

Boundaries Training Again

I was once again delivering a training course on professional boundaries in London. As usual, I brought up my shoes-off policy as an example of a boundary in everyday life. I made the point again, that many people don't have the confidence to ask for shoes-off in their homes, lacking the ability to assert themselves.

A lady attending the course made another interesting point about my shoes-off policy and boundaries. She asked me about workmen removing their shoes and health and safety issues. I pointed out that a shoes-off policy is an informal boundary, unlike laws and regulations, so exceptions can be made. Then she said:

"But if you make lots of exceptions to your rule, then friends who normally take their shoes off might start keeping them on. That's how boundaries can slip."

I thought this was a really insightful point about boundaries.

It is absolutely true that making lots of exceptions can cause inconsistency. So if you have a shoes-off rule, but then you make an exception for a party, then you might start letting your friends keep their shoes on for less formal visits. Then you might start neglecting to take your own shoes off. Then you might start being less bothered if your children fail to remove their shoes. Consistency is really important.


Mat said...

There have to be some exceptions. I occasionally do some painting & decorating for people. It's not practical for me to work shoeless. I do however have an old pair of trainers for the job which are only ever worn indoors. Decorating slippers if you like!

Paul said...

It is absolutely inappropriate to ask people who come to your place to do business (workmen, salespeople, accountants, real estate agents) to take off their shoes. Same thing if you are hosting a large party where people are likely to be dressed up. In fact, shoes-off policies best be reserved for family and maybe the closest friends.

Anonymous said...

I think it is incredibly rude to ask anyone other than very close friends and family to remove their shoes as a prerequisite to entering my home. As a host it is MY responsibility to make my guests feel welcome and comfortable. It is not the guests responsibility to ensure my home stays clean. There is also a feeling of familiarity that makes me uncomfortable, like is this guest planning on staying the night? My husband and I usually take our shoes off as soon as we come home FYI.