Recovery: Boundary Maintenance

Extra post this week.

To maintain professional boundaries and confidentiality, I try not to get too specific about the details of my job and co-workers.   The same is true about friends and people I consider family.  Only if I have permission from them, do I share specific details or information.  Bear with me if this post is clunky as I try to maintain the boundaries and confidentiality and share my story.

Most of my job is to make sure deliverables get to the client within the deadline.  In order for me to do that, other people in the department have to be able to meet their project deadlines.

Makes sense right?

And also a good reason why I do my best to ensure that happens by doing the other part of my job.  That part is to troubleshoot small issues, connect people with each other to get answers when someone gets stuck, and share relevant information with people in my department.

Since all of the big changes over the past year, everyone in the company has had to learn a lot of new processes and programs while also doing their jobs.  Some of the processes like user names and passwords for different websites are time consuming and difficult to learn/remember.  Others not so much.  And a lot of people are resistant to change.  They ignore the emails and try to use the “old” ways instead.  Then get frustrated and blame someone else for the problem.

Usually the messenger whose “instructions are not working”.  AKA me.

Then they, (not always with respect) request that I fix the problem for them because (put the excuse here).  Mainly they don’t want to learn the new process and will ask everyone else to fix it for them until someone does.

It happened again last week.  Yesterday, I received the 5th email/call telling me my instructions didn’t work and demanding I fix the problem remotely.  And I got fed up with it.  Because I am not part of IT.  I am not a computer specialist.  And my job is not to do these tasks for other people.  it’s to share information with them so they learn how to do it themselves and are not dependent on someone else to solve their problems.

So how does one address this boundary issue?  I talked it over with my supervisor – mostly because I wanted to be clear what my job is and is not before I send something out publicly.  Then I asked my contact in Customer Support (IT for software programs and someone with experience dealing with these people) who works closely with IT for advice.  She gave some great information that helped me refine what to say.

Then I had to figure out how to get the message to everyone in multiple states, territories, and countries while also maintaining a professional tone.  Being a writer, I chose email and spent an hour crafting my message.  After I sent it out, I felt better.  And I got some positive responses back too.

But I still feel triggered.  And it’s not helping with my sleep issues and feeling vulnerable this time of year.  My therapist says I did a good job.  And so far I haven’t had any negative feedback from my supervisor or any of the managers.

Will I be able to do this next time?  I hope so.

Will I be able to avoid the backlash like I did this time?  Maybe.

Do I feel better, safer, more confident now that I pushed everyone back to the other side of the boundary?  Absolutely, yes.

This time of year it is so easy to fall back into old patterns and then start the new year feeling bad.  I hope this story empowers others to maintain their boundaries too.  Because maintaining boundaries this time of year ups our chances for a better time in the future.