How is this relevant to business?
COVID has forced these two worlds that we’ve kept separate – personal and business – and blurred those lines and meshed them together. And it’s not only impacted business owners and managers and bosses but it’s really impacted us who work at home. And with those blurred lines, I think a lot of people felt as if there’s a great opportunity to work from home and not take that ride. But all of a sudden, all these problems start coming up within the home because you’re on top of each other 24-seven. So that’s where a lot of these behavioral issues – which were maybe small – start triggering something much more significant.
“We’ve got this new dynamic of all the family members home all the time. And communication, which was shoddy at best before, is now down the tubes impacting both work and relationships within the family. It’s creating a tinderbox of opportunities for flare-ups and bad experiences. And all of these resources that were once available are now not accessible anymore.”
How do we think about boundaries and communication in a time when we are living and working together?
I think when the pandemic first started, we thought this would be a quick thing. And then I also believe that right now, we’re thinking that when it’s over, it’s going to fade back to what we once were. But the reality is that this is a great opportunity for businesses to cut costs. So why wouldn’t they keep a structure similar to this?
And when I look at the reactionary environment that we were in earlier, for example, a kid runs through the door, and the parent says, “Get out!” Well, does a kid quite understand why they’re getting kicked out of the room? They’ve never seen their parents work at home, quite possibly. And what they see is a computer, and to them, computers are video games.
So, these reactionary elements then put a kid in a defensive position, and it also makes us feel like the bad guy – when there really are solutions.
There are some simple ones that I’d like to go over which help set your physical boundaries – which are the doors in the house. But the doors in the house are not good enough. The one thing that I always promote within the families that I’ve worked with is putting signage on the doors and starting each day off with a family meeting. Even if the meeting is just for five minutes, spend time going over what each thing means. For example, you can put a sign on the door that says, “In Zoom Meeting,” and then explain to your child what you would like them to do.
And that’s the second part of it – which is to create a system for them. Maybe there’s a note under the door system, or maybe you have a little doggie door they can put it through.
“We have set up a system for communicating in our home. It’s a magnetic board with three options – live recording, meeting, and working. Each of these things explains to my children whether they can come in or if the door must remain shut, or if they need to wait five minutes until I have a break or reach a stopping point. Jeff helped us make this board, and it’s been transformational in our communication in the family. It brought us all onto the same page.”
Yes, and I want to point out how positive that board looks. You see, there are the magnets on there with flowers. The outline is welcoming, and it’s not saying, “I don’t want you here,” – it’s just simply a boundary. It’s like a fence with a neighbor. It’s not saying I hate my neighbor. It’s saying let’s have a little space between each other, and space is good.
What tips can you offer people regarding boundaries?
Because we have been in these separate worlds, we’re not used to this blurred world. And, maybe we feel like our bosses, our managers, or the person we’re selling to is going to be upset if a kid comes in and something happens, but they’re in the same situation. They’re in the same boat.
We need to welcome our family and children into our work environment and even partake in some of these things. For example, bring your child in if you’re going to post on social media and have no idea what to do or how even to download something. They know how to do it. And the look on their face, how proud they are, and how far they will go, they will be your best worker.
Bringing them into that world, maybe taking pictures of you for social media, and they could be your little mini photographer after school. So it’s like a little mini job for them. I remember, as a kid, I always wanted to be part of my dad’s world or my dad’s business. And I feel like this is a great opportunity to allow that.
Of course, communicate that to the person on the other side as well that you’re working with, and let your boss know, or your manager know, or your prospect know, “Yeah, there might be a kid coming in, and they’re young, and they might start crying – so, I might press pause for a bit.” But that’s part of that communication, once again – boundary setting with clients and co-workers.
“I think this pandemic has given us all a great opportunity to reevaluate our boundaries and improve our communication. We don’t have the luxury of just walking down the hall and explaining what’s going on. We have to be clear in our messages about what is actually going on.”
What’s one thing we can do to help build relationships within the family?
It’s taking those moments out of your day and spending time with them. One of the most important elements that you can do, even for yourself, is to get outside. And yes, there’s a report that came out that said three hours per day and of course, researchers like to go to the extremes and act like we have all the time in the world, but a half-hour per day, and going outside and making it a fun experience or making a peaceful experience.
One of the things I like to do is bring a Bluetooth speaker, and each person gets to pick the next song in the playlist while you go for a walk. Your neighbors aren’t going to be able to hear, and it brings you together, but then it also gives an opportunity for the kids to go off and do their thing. Or you get to spend time with your spouse – which is the last part of this.
If you are married or dating or living together, ensure that you do have moments with your spouse. This is something that is very important. When you are energized, and you’re on the same page, and if you feel good together, that will exude upon the kids as well.
3 Action Steps
- Set up a system for communication at home that not only shares what your children can’t do but what they can do.
- Find ways to include your child in your business life.
- Spend time together as a family – outdoors if possible.
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