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Monday, 14 May 2007 08:47

Boundaries - The Story of the Dry Cleaning Lady

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Mary Carol really liked the woman who worked the counter at the dry cleaners. And the dry cleaning lady seemed to like her too. The dry cleaning lady always remembered her by name and remembered her phone number (which was how customer information was stored in the system used at that location). They always greeted one another with big smiles. Their conversation, although not lengthy, was definitely beyond small talk. 

Then one day the dry cleaning lady said to Mary Carol, “So you and your husband only care about making money?” She continued, “Because you do not have children you must just be all about money, money, money.” To say that Mary Carol was shocked by this would be an understatement.

To the dry cleaning lady, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the statement. To Mary Carol the comment was not only false, but unkind. And yet she had no reason to believe that the woman was purposefully being malicious.  In short she had crossed a boundary.

We all have different boundaries. And these boundaries vary by relationship. It is most likely that your best friend can say things to you that no one else can get away with. When someone behaves outside the boundaries or expected norms of the relationship, it can be off putting.  The challenge we have is learning where these boundaries exist.  We train people how to treat us by letting them know what we consider to be acceptable and what is not acceptable. We need to understand our own boundaries and then find a way to communicate these boundaries to others. This is how we help others understand our boundaries.

With regard to the dry cleaning lady, what do you think Mary Carol should do? Ignore the comment, correct the comment, change dry cleaners or wait and see if it happens again?

Read 7236 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:15

My vision is to be instrumental in the development of individuals who are at peace with their authentic selves; people who show others that it is OK to be human at work; who brings — and values — humanity to the office and thrives because of it. I want to create a world where peace and business co-exist.

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