Life is not always clear. We want to think that we will be able to quickly and easily see boundary lines, and be able to follow them. The boss is always the boss. The child is always the child. The teacher is always the teacher. But what happens when the wife becomes the teacher? When the child becomes the boss? When the parent needs to be taken care of? When the Boss becomes the friend? Or better yet when the friend becomes the Boss?
Is your your employee a good friend? Does this person some times take advantage of the friendship when it comes to work? Is your parent older, and while they are asking you to take a larger role in caring for them, do they resist your care? It can be difficult setting boundaries when there are two parts of a relationship that need to be considered.
The first thing to look at as an individual is the roll that you need as a person to be the primary / dominant roll. For example, once you’re the boss, the primary roll is probably going to be your position as the boss. It is one thing to lose a friend, it is another to lose a job because you weren’t able to step up and set limits. When a parent becomes the one needing care, letting your desire to have a mom or a dad can compromise the care of the parent.
Having poor limits can also compromise the relationship. When you have the friend that is also an underling, and boundaries are not firm, the friend taking advantage of the poor boundaries can create resentment and anger. The parent that doesn’t have firm boundaries can wear a care-giving child out quickly. Unfortunately, the one in the power position is the one that needs to be the one setting limits. The givers need to set limits because the takers never will.
You will need to be OK not being liked all the time. The one in charge will be required to make decisions those under them don’t like. They will be required to set limits, delegate, and set tasks that will make people uncomfortable, resentful, and frustrated. That is part of the job. It ain’t easy being Queen. Or King.
Work to create a container around the rolls. When you are the friend / child / partner or friend don’t be the boss. Set boundaries that when you in certain places and certain times whatever work you have that you are the boss is put aside. For example, At lunch you are friends and you don’t talk about work, work frustrations, or work needs. When you are at “work”, literally or metaphorically, personal and friendships are put on hold. You create a container around the work, and around the relationships. Work to keep them from bleeding in to each other. Make it clear to the other party where the lines are, and be clear when the lines are crossed.
Life isn’t about nice clear lines and easily understandable boundaries. We are sometimes required to set them for ourselves. That means we have to figure out what boundaries we need for our own sanity. Creating these containers will not be easy, and will be uncomfortable for everyone. It will also save relationships and sanity.