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  • Writer's pictureBrad Gay

Using "Mention" to set Boundaries #2

You know it amazes me that in today’s age we still struggle to speak our truths to colleagues. Instead we let things slide we tolerate poor behaviour in the hope it will improve. It rarely does, because no one else calls them on their behaviour either. They have in some case gotten away with this for years. It might be as simple as shutting down people in meetings and dominating the conversation. The sad thing about it is these people often get their way! But you can stop it by being proactive from the start. Instead of waiting for a behaviour to escalate you can tackle it from the start by using the power of the mention. It works like this:

“John, I’d like to mention that I noticed you spoke over Sam today and didn’t give him the opportunity to have his say. I don’t feel this is going to build Sam’s confidence. In the future, can you be more aware of our agreement/ protocol to respect each other’s opinions in this company/ school.”

Not only have you set the boundary for John by using the word “mention” you have also sent a low level warning shot across the bow by using the word “noticed”. This sends a strong message in a clear non confrontational way that you won't stand for this type of behaviour. By referring back to the agreement or protocol for meetings I have further reinforced my expectations of John.

So two weeks go by and John raises his head again shutting down Sam.

"Hi John, do you remember two weeks ago when I mentioned you talked over the top of Sam? Well you did it again today. Is it time we had a deeper chat about what’s going on here?"

If John apologises and says he’ll make more of an effort I have my "in" to set further boundaries.

"Thanks for that, John. I’d appreciate that and I commit to giving you feedback whenever I notice you exhibiting this behaviour so you can modify it. How about we check in on this in two weeks time?"

Notice how I’ve closed the loop here? Not only does John recognise that he can’t get away with this behaviour, I have also promised him I’ll actively call him on it. The final piece is setting a timeframe to see if John has made the desired change in behaviour.

Key points

  1. Mention is a low level intervention to correct behaviour

  2. Noticed is a more direct approach than the mention

  3. By cycling back to the original discussion you are reestablishing the boundary

  4. Once the boundary is set you now can set the consequence. Ie I will continue to call you on this behaviour

  5. I closed the loop. I’ll see you in two weeks. This tells John you aren’t letting this slide.

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