Establish Boundaries To Eliminate Distractions From Other People

Eliminate Distractions: 3 of 4

Creating strong boundaries is the strategy of choice for distractions involving other people. Whether we’re talking about others or ourselves, people can be the most challenging types of distractions to eliminate. People are complicated, and it shows in our relationships. (Read the first and second parts about distractions if you haven’t yet – then this will make more sense.)



Other peoples’ behaviors are what push your buttons and cause distractions and energy drains. What they do, or don’t do, will often impact you. Chances are, you’ve got quite a few behaviors of other people on your list of tolerations. And there’s a good chance that something you do shows up on somebody else’s list.

We did a survey a short time ago and asked people which type of distraction dominated their list: Things, events, other people, or themselves. 82% said it was other people. We’ve found it to be the case with most of the clients we’ve worked with, so it was no surprise to us. Most often, it comes down to other people’s behaviors that violate your boundaries. That means they do, say, or act in a way that you don’t want in your life. These behaviors are as varied as the people in your life: from arriving late for meetings, to talking too loud in the office; from a neighbor mowing the lawn at 7:00 in the morning, to dogs barking late into the night; from one person dominating the office meeting, to your office-mate dumping unfinished work on your desk. It adds up, and every one of those behaviors causes an energy drain for you. Sometimes it gets so bad you’re ready to scream or quit.

Using our D3 model, you can either establish the boundary and enforce it (Do it), have somebody else deal with the person (Delegate it), or stop any involvement you have with that person (Dump it). How do you do any of this? Here are your guidelines:

Do It.

First, identify the behavior involved. Interruptions are a problem for many so let’s use that as an example. The specific behavior involved is people coming to your desk and demanding your attention when you’re working. Often, the interruption is for things that are not critical and could wait.

Next, decide what behavior you want instead. In this case, you want people to respect your time and hold their questions until you’re available to talk.

Finally, communicate what you want to the people involved: explain the problem, the solution you’d like, and instruct them in the new behavior you want from them.

Delegate It.

When talking about others’ behaviors, delegation is usually not an option because it’s a behavior that affects you directly. However, in some work situations delegating a problem becomes necessary, as in cases of sexual harassment.

Dump It.

There will be some people who are not willing to change at all. Then you have to make a choice. Sometimes the result will be they’re no longer part of your life.

Throughout this whole process, when dealing with other people, there are a few things to remember:

  • Remain neutral. Judgment and blame have no place in conversations involving boundaries.
  • Just pointing out a behavior might be enough to affect change. People aren’t always aware of what they’re doing. When brought to their attention, they stop.
  • You’re asking for a change from people who might not want to change. Be ready to repeat your request more than once.
  • Know there’s a chance some people will choose not to respect your wishes and will no longer be part of your life. Be ready to let them go when it happens.
  • Given what we’ve learned through coaching so many people, eliminating distractions involving other people is likely going to be where you find yourself floundering a bit. It takes patience and persistence. And if you need help, ask for it!

Eliminate Distractions Part 4, the final post on distractions, is all about you and your behaviors. This can be equally as hard as with other people, bu3t it’s possible if you’re ready and willing to make some changes.

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