Category Archives: boundaries

Missing: social work on/off switch

I assume that on/off switches were issued upon graduation from social work school and somehow I missed out on receiving mine. Perhaps I walked past that station while trying to find the cap and gown drop-off area. It’s possible. It was a hectic day.

To my credit, I paid a lot of attention in social work school when they talked about “self-care” and I have worked really hard to improve my ability to leave my social work self at work as much as possible. Easier said than done. If I were a Barbie, this would be a matter of changing outfits (well, except if I were a Barbie from a McDonald’s happy meal). UnFortunately, I am not a Barbie. Continue reading

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An in-between post: thoughts from my aunt

After I published my last post, I received an email response from my (obviously awesome) aunt. I found her thoughts interesting, so I figured I would share them with all of you (I asked her permission first, of course!):

“I enjoyed this post — it brought me right back to the early 70s, when I first went into sales and was a ‘pioneer’ during the early days of the women’s liberation movement. [My encounters actually began in 1967, when I started working full time. They escalated when I went into sales in 1973.] Many of the guys that I worked with alternated between resenting me (thinking I would betray their behavior with other women to their wives) and hitting on me…. Sometimes it is easiest to ignore it, but if it is repeated it must be dealt with (such as your ‘I have a boyfriend’; or ‘I’m in a relationship’).

Regarding inappropriate physical advances, take a lesson from an ol’ ‘women’s libber’: I would go with a handshake every time you greet/ungreet — even in an elevator. Just square your shoulders and put your hand out there quickly and that should cut down on the unwanted physical advances. The other stuff (confessions of a difficult marriage, etc.) has to be managed on a case-by-case basis, and I get that it’s trickier if the ‘sharing’ is coming from someone you may ‘need’ in the future to help one of your clients. Perhaps you could say that you need to stay focused on your clients (and their issues)? As long as you’re smiling when you say it, you can get away with a lot.”

Should I smile? Am I on Candid Camera?

Sometimes I feel like there must be a secret film crew following me around making a video about inappropriate workplace boundaries.

Surely somewhere in the future there are new employees sitting in a conference room giggling uncontrollably at this outdated video. “Oh my gosh, she’s so awkward; she doesn’t know how to react!” one new hire exclaims. “I know right? And what was this filmed with—an HD camera? It’s so old looking!” the other chimes in…

I am decidedly clumsy when it comes to handling unsolicited advances from other professionals while on the clock. Not that it’s a skill I am actively working to improve.

In addition to daily interaction with clients and coworkers, my job includes working directly with volunteers, school personnel and representatives of funding sources (auditors). Sometimes (for reasons only they could illuminate) these individuals cross invisible lines that I would rather they did not cross. Perhaps I am too nice, perhaps all social workers are too nice, or perhaps these people are just a little creepy.

In this entry you will have the pleasure of meeting MrCreepyDean, NoBoundariesAuditor and my VolunteerDad: three humans I would have gladly avoided my whole professional career if possible.

Continue reading

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