Boundaries are important in life. Setting boundaries helps us create and sustain healthy relationships. Trust, respect, and friendship are built on developing healthy boundaries, both physically and emotionally. Still, many people overlook the basics about invading other people’s personal and private space, and this can lead to more than just irritation. If you’re sharing personal space in an office or home setting, it’s important to set some basic rules so that everyone can share the responsibility of respecting each other. In life, you’re sure to encounter situations where people ignore the rules and insist on invading your space. Here are some ways to overcome some of the most common situations:
YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER IS READING YOUR E-MAIL
This is a direct invasion of privacy, and you’ll need to set some ground rules about your relationship. While it’s great that you can share your feelings, emotions, and thoughts with another person, setting clear boundaries is an important part of keeping your relationship healthy and on the right track.
YOUR ROOMMATE MOVES YOUR THINGS
Setting ground rules with roommates or other people in your household is important for getting along peacefully. You can address the issue directly, simply by stating that you would like them to ask you if anything that isn’t theirs needs to be moved. As long as you agree to do the same, you’ll have a mutual understanding of expectations.
PEOPLE ENTER WITHOUT KNOCKING
Even though you’ve closed your door, people insist on barging in when you’re in the middle of a project, on the phone, or in a meeting. Be clear about the reasons why you need to keep the door closed, and don’t be afraid to explain to them that your door is closed because you cannot talk or meet with anyone else at that time. If this still doesn’t work, consider putting a simple "Do not disturb" sign on your door.
YOUR NEIGHBORS PLAY LOUD MUSIC
This isn’t necessarily a physical invasion of personal space, but it’s still disturbing you enough to be a disruption in your life. If you need to make a formal complaint, make sure you’re addressing exactly what times you need some peace and quiet, and approach the neighbor with some expectations. Creating a situation of compromise is the best way to resolve issues with neighbors and roommates—in some cases, they may not have realized how much of a disruption they were making!
YOUR GUESTS ARE OVERSTAYING THEIR WELCOME
When you’re hosting a party or event, it’s a good idea to set hours as an "open house" so guests know when to arrive and when to leave. When guests are staying far too long, it’s an indirect invasion of your personal space. The best way to handle it is to be polite and make a point about when you’ll be seeing them next time, or very soon. You can deliver the message without being rude, but you will have to be tactful about it.
A STRANGER CUTS IN LINE
You need to be assertive and take a stand—too many people overlook common courtesy in public situations. All it takes is a simple, “Excuse me, but you’re cutting in front of me,” to let them know that there is a line and they need to take their spot at the back. Although it’s a small situation, don’t set aside your personal rights just to avoid conflict!
Respecting boundaries and protecting your personal space is an essential part of maintaining your self respect. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, think of a resolution or compromise that will enable you to assert yourself with success!