Friday, August 13, 2010

Boundaries and Business

I work with a few clients as a coach. While I would like to say that I offer profound insight and help people make dramatic changes in their lives, that just isn't the case.

But what can happen is that the client can have his or her own insight. I can't say where it comes from or why. I can simply say that I was there, and that I am grateful to have witnessed it.

One of my clients and I were having a conversation the other night when he started taking about boundaries and relationships. He had been reading about the idea of boundarylessness, looking at relationships from the perspective of not being able to find the boundary between two people. This is a radical idea--that while we can see physical bodies, we really can't find a line where you stop and I start. We may be separated by miles but have the urge to call each other at the same instant. We may come up with the same idea at the same time. Or we may simply sense an energetic connection or intermingling when we are together.

My client, though, had been drawing a line between boundarylessness in personal relationships--friends and spouse--and business relationships. He had simply not allowed himself to open up in his business relationships. But as we were talking that line suddenly just dropped. He saw the humanity of those he worked with, or negotiated against. He saw that they wanted connection just as much as the other people in his life. And he saw that, in his feelings of vulnerabilty, he had been putting up walls that actually pushed the others away. He could see in the times that he had opened up, for whatever reason, that the relationship and results were profoundly different.

It can feel dangerous to open up in the business world. To share. To trust. It feels like in business, we defend first, and trust is earned later. But what is it, exactly, that we are protecting?

What if we trusted first? What would happen then?


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