This is the transcript for the first of our 'Boundaries' discussions.
I think normally groups set the boundaries for the individual in the beginning, because it is easy to have the order instead of chaos. What I can think if, is, for example, when a group of people joins a summer camp, and the organizer, or workers will try to make the members follow certain rules, and if most people follow the rules of the camp, and actually all the members can get the most benefit from it, and they will learn more, and also enjoy more. I think the group has its own boundary, and most of the time, I need to follow, because I am a part of the group. But if that boundary influence my private life, or have too much of an impact on me, it's time to step out, or adjust or actually set my own boundary there. So I can be in that group for the longer term.
Actually I agree with Shirley, because at first thinking a group needs to set a boundary for the people, that's how you call a group a group. But I don't really understand the next sentence, when does the individuals set boundaries for the group, I don't really understand what that means. I assume there is a boundary for me in the group, is that true? I don't really understand that next sentence, so I don't have a thought about it. But I agree with Shirley.
I don't know. I can only think about the situation I'm facing right now. I don't know how to set my boundaries, and because, and I also can't cut it off completely.
I think you set a pretty effective boundary by going to the other side of the world
But for Jennifer, we only have a little boundary between us.
But even though I flew so very far away, and the boundary is so very unclear, and my father is trying to control. Because he was really angry, that I only told him about the sleep problem only one month later. He's like you have to tell us immediately.
I think that parents always want to control their children.
It's a kind of a habit, right?
Yes. The good part is, take care of them. The bad part is, they want to control them.
And I think, this mistrust between us is hard to, because he doesn't trust me, and I also don't trust him.
That makes communication difficult!
Can I ask you a question, did you tell your father clearly how you feel afterwards?
Not really, no, I only sent written messages, but I didn’t talk about how I feel.
Why don't you try one time, tell them how you feel. I think they don't really know how you feel, they will be shocked, and then they will change.
I think Jennifer is protecting herself, because she mentioned that they don’t trust each other. But I feel that Jennifer just feels hurt, because her father cannot believe that she can take care of herself. So I think she stopped communicating, because she's so afraid to be hurt.
Yeah, I think we all have a false concept that family members should be close, and our parents feel we should all be family.
And share our own stories, and there are a lot of shoulds.
And, but at the same time, because of this, we set our own boundaries, and we don’t trust our families.
Can I share an experience?
When I studied abroad, my parents always worried, since they didn't know how we lived in the US,
My mom would always call and ask me how everything is going, because they don't know the country and culture, so they were expressing their care.
I have a feeling that Asian parents worry a lot and have a fear about their children. And I think that European parents really care about how you're doing in Asia, for example, they want to talk and communicate about your life here.
Not really worry, I think there's a big difference.
Why do Asian parents have to worry so much?
Because they used to being needed.
You know, they have deep fears, and I think parents should deal with their own fear first.
Yeah, they have to grow up. Because they themself, if they cannot overcome their fear, they'll feel like controlling their kids.
That's their problems, not their own problems.
It turns out children create more distance between them.
Oh, because of the worry of the parents.
But when you stay alone, you really want your parents to call you.
No, not in my experience.
I mean, in another country.
Not in my experience!
But in my experience, yes.
Yes, different individuals.
I just think that, all of us have our own boundaries, not only just to strangers, but also to our friends, our family. So maybe for a successful community, the first thing is to understand that everyone has his own boundaries, and respect everyone's boundaries, and I think the more important thing is that the process to set or negotiate or communicate boundaries is a process to build trust between each other, and if we trust each other, then we will respect each other. So it's a kind of circle.
If you respect each other's boundaries, then you will more trust each other, so it's a kind of positive circle.
And in the discussion I found that it's a kind of conflict between my concepts. In part, I would like to share whatever I have, and I also hope others can share whatever they have. But I also want to set boundaries to people, so I don't know, I don't know which one is the best way for people.
I think I'm a workaholic person, so when I look at this question 'group to individual'? I just translated to this question, 'when does the company set boundaries for individual colleagues' so when I look at organization chart, we have a lot of different departments, like, marketing medical research and so on, and down to each department have different reporting line, different manager. Because companies want people to have separate responsibility, and focus on their own job. Also it allows the company to control and manage all the workers efficiently. And when we go to the second question, when do individuals set boundary for group? I think in different department we have different goal so we have different point of view. For example the sales group, the benefit of the sales is maybe their responsibility, and their goal to achieve but for the medical department people, they need to do a lot of research, which is qualified and have good integrity. So different departments have different points of view, and have conflicts. So different departments have to set boundaries because they have different goals to achieve, and sometime they have to set boundaries to they're not influenced by different departments, and things will go more efficiently. The end!
When the group wants the efficient way, they would set the boundaries for an individual. They want everyone can follow the rules, so that they will set the boundary. So that that a group can control it efficiently. I think the individual sets the boundary for the group, the boundary will fit everyone. Because for example each person they have their boundary, so when they pass it up to the group, then it will fit the boundary for each person. That means, because the individual, they have their self-interest about their standards, so that means, when they set the boundary for the group, that means the group will follow most of the people's needs their interest. I think for example everyone wants good transportation, so the government or the group they will build good transportation for each individual.
Do little kids know about the real meaning of no?
Because sometimes they learn it from parents.
What's the true meaning of no?
Because I think that parents have the responsibility to teach children what behavior is good or not. But if kids use that word too much, no one can control their behavior, no one can teach them. Because people would say that's their right to say so.
For instance, it's very late, and the parents want their children to go to bed, and the kid says NO and or they want them to eat, and they say no. Or on the contrary, if they want to eat something, and the parent says no.
It depends on how old the kids are. If the kids are so little, like two or three years old, you know they need to go to bed before 8 o’clock. In my family, the kids go to bed before 8. And parents should prepare the sleeping atmosphere for them. Parents can't watch TV and tell the kids to go to sleep. Because of course it's more fun to watch TV! So you have to turn off the television, and put away the games and stuff. But when they're older, in grade three or four, they can go to bed later, like 9 or 9:30. But still, parents cannot just watch TV and ask them to go to sleep. You can't tell them one thing and ask them to do another. And for the food part, kids, because my brother is always struggling with his kid during mealtimes. Because his kid doesn't like to eat. And from my observation, he doesn't like to eat because he already ate a snack before the meals. So of course he's not hungry! So the problem doesn't lie with the kids, it's with the parents! So when kids say no, there's a reason behind it, you have to figure it out, why they say no.
That's a really good point.
Before parents say rules, I think parents can try to communicate with kids, and at the first, to explain the reason why kids make the rules in this way. Then listen to the reaction of the children, I think this process can build trust between parents and children
It takes a long time at first, but saves time later.
It also depends on the characteristic of the child. Like me, I was a compliant child, but my sister was an assertive child. I think my parents had to have different strategies for us two.
When I served in the military, there was only yes and no, they want to save your life when you're in the battle. You need to listen to your commander or your ...
But let me ask you...What's the point of a military?
To save life, for fighting.
On the contrary, it's for killing people.
It defends the country!
By being prepared to and training its people to kill people! What it is, is a structure such that people have no need to think. Because in real life, given a choice, most people will do anything to avoid killing someone else. It's human nature to not kill. So they teach you to not think for yourself, in fact the structure is designed that you follow orders without even thinking about it. It's so that when they say "shoot" you will. It's a structure designed to control.
But a company is the same as the military?
Well, they both have a structure designed to control, that concentrates decision making at the top. People think this is about 'efficiency' but in fact it's not a very effective use of all the people's energy in the structure. That would only happen if they all were empowered to decide what to do next with a consensus from the group as to what was the goal. A hierarchy is not about efficiency but control. It's actually a very inefficient structure.
But wait, why did you bring this up?
It's about 'Yes/no, just follow my rules'
But they're treating you like compliant children.
Wait, I have a question, do you trust your senior?
Wow, she didn't even finish before you answered.
But we do what they say?
Even though you don't trust them!
If you don't trust a person, it's a kind of fear in your mind, and it's hard to...
Okay, in your company, you don't trust your manager, but you'll still do it.
But for me, it's a kind of struggling to...
And so in the military the same way. Do you trust your teacher? In Taiwanese culture, you can’t argue with the teacher.
Yeah, but I met some teachers, they allow us to discuss with them...
But you still need to respect them and listen to them?
Is 'respect' and 'listen to' the same thing?
But parents and children is a long-time thing, different than military or schools. I think, if you don't trust your parents…
But most of the time is spent in school!
But your family has a more intense affect on you.
So above, I used this term 'successful community'. What do you think of when you hear this term?
Everyone loves each other.
But you don't trust each other, how do you love each other?
So you're just being idealistic. But I don't want to talk useless ideals, something we don't really believe it. I want to talk in reality.
I just think of good communication between people. People have the chance to have their voice heard by everybody.
Trust each other.
It made me think about the, you know 大同世界.
That's like a Chinese ideal, right?
Yes, everyone has his own job, the kids are happy.
So it's like heaven.
Yeah, everyone, everything very well laid out.
What it sounds like you're saying? Is that we don't live in a successful community right now.
In 大同世界, you don't need to lock their doors.
So Pingdong is大同世界?
So a successful community can only be ideal?
I think the difference is that other communities are influenced by the media, and it creates fear.
The media creates fear.
So in Pingdong they watch the news less.
You know, I think the world would be more peaceful if everybody turned off their television.
Yes! Because if I'm doing my work or something else, I will turn off the television.
Yes, we really have to get rid of television.
Okay, so we'll be like North Korea. If we turn off the television.
If we turn it off, we cannot hear others opinions.
What I'm saying is not get rid of other media, we still have lots of other sources of information.
It's not saying stop information, it's saying, stop this particular form of information.
Like what were we saying about media three weeks ago.
Like they create fear.
Wait, do you remember a couple of weeks ago, Maggie asked, why is media so negative?
We discussed that people like negative news more than positive.
Negative news is intrinsically more interesting than positive news.
You said, that people naturally want to see other people suffer.
But I remember Maggie saying that negative news makes people need to analyze it, but positive news doesn't need to be paid attention to, and so that's why the news is always so negative, so that they will get more viewers, and more continuous viewers.
But the thing is television feels more real than news in the paper.
Yes, but the problem is that the news selects what they want people to believe. And so even though I'm halfway around the world, and Sweden is thought of as a safe country, my parents worry about me when I walk alone to the supermarket.
What are the qualities of a group that cooperates well?
Well-functioning group communication.
Can rely on each other.
Trust each other.
People are willing to contribute.
Have the same goal/dream.
And will not worry that your coworkers will betray you.
Feel that your coworkers have your back, they'll support you.
Automatically fills in the job that is needed, when someone takes leave.
Takes over, takes care of.
What does 'setting boundaries' mean?
What are some examples of boundaries?
You don't tell the truth, or you don't share what you have, for me this is a kind of boundary on social relationship or family relationship.
So it's a limit on information, or all you have.
Yes, or even money.
Oh, like i'll help you this far, but not any more than that.
I think it also includes physical distance. I mean, when we talk, like between two people, based on how familiar they are or how close they are.
I think of my teaching job. When I teach some vocab, for example, they will respond to me, we have good communication, but maybe somebody will want to talk about something else, and this is very annoying.
So where's the boundary?
You can't talk about that, we have to talk about this.
No, it's like when they say something they shouldn’t.
Like I teach the letters UK, and the boy goes f-u-c-k.
So where's the boundary?
You can't just disrupt, and interrupt.
So you're creating the boundary, as the teacher. You're saying this is acceptable, and this is not acceptable. So it's about behavior.
I think, not only boundaries towards others, but also protecting ourselves.
Do you have an example?
Yes, actually I just commented on the article on the website, about my arguments with my father, and how, like, he forces his ideas on me and distorts what I mean. So in the end, I just said, I’m going to sleep, and I just turned off Skype.
So what's the boundary that you set there?
It's without respecting Jennifer, so Jennifer will feel a kind of hurt, about being ignored.
About her needs being ignored?
Maybe she had a boundary, To not let the thing go worse.
So she set a boundary on the behavior of her father.
Do you often set boundaries with people?
Maybe it depends on the people.
I think so. You set different boundaries on different people.
On subgroups, 'subgroup analysis'.
Do you have a large hierarchy?
I guess, family, friends strangers.
Common friends and close friends?
Classmates. We have common memories, common knowledge, the same language between us, so that's another subgroup.
Okay, I want stories about this!
Yeah of course I have one. I remember in 2003, when I was in Sweden, I had friends from Europe, Belgium or France, and when they say hi or goodbye, the boys, they get so close, I'm like no! Too close! I told them that in Asia, in Taiwan, I'm not used to this.
So you clearly set a boundary! You can do this, but you can't do this.
So she asserted herself.
Do you feel your boundaries are firm or flexible?
I'm flexible and try to be firm! I'm learning! It's good for me to be firm. x1
I think I’m flexible, you know, because, when you get to know a person more and more, your boundary will be different. Its not like at the very beginning, you set a boundary and it's just there. It changes. It depends on how much you know the person.
Okay, how about strangers?
Well, it depends, maybe you get along well at the beginning, but after awhile...
So the more you dislike someone, the more firm your boundaries get?
It's a kind of like, before the, it's like a kind of game. Where two people they just bring swords?
Like a duel?
Yes, you will test the boundaries of each other.
So it's like dueling swordsmen!
So it's like a kind of negotiation. Because I just read a book on game theory. Prisoners dilemma. Everyone has their self interest. For if I negotiate with you, you have your limit or maximum benefit. So it's the intersection between my and your maximum benefit.
So in the process, each of two people need to give up some privilege.
But you will think about another thing is your main goal. For example, if you sell something, and you cut down 5 dollars to make a deal, so you sacrifice for the deal.
So sales and customer can achieve their maximum interest.
So you know your boundary or limitation.
I have a question. Is there a possibility of boundary between lovers?
I think a healthy relationship, yes.
I think that the romantic ideal is the ideal of no boundary.
But I’m interested about, what's the difference between before and after they got married?
One's not forever, and one's forever!
When you get married, you're tied permanently to sb else.
But there is nothing forever.
'Till death do us part'! That's forever! That's the rest of your life.
How do you know when you trust someone else?
How do you know when someone trusts you?
Protection. For me.
Like for me, with that guy, I felt, safe. Like, oh, I don't have to do this thing I don't want to.
For me, boundary feels like a block between you and other people.
Is that negative?
No, it's just a psychological and physical distance.
I don't like to get hugged or my grandmother likes to hold my hand when walking down the street. But she's my grandmother!
Boundaries in relationship, we only have bad boundaries? Can we have good boundaries?
I think so.
What kind of boundary is good?
It's that other people feel comfortable to have their own space.
Yes, feeling comfortable is very important.
It makes me think of when I'm in my previous company. A foreign guest came, and my boss took him to a hospital to visit a doctor.
Oh right, that's your job!
We took the HSR. When buying the ticket, the boss said, we don't have to sit with the guests. We bought separate tickets. I thought we would have to sit nearby, and talk business, and all the affiliated things. He said no. In the hospital, in the office, yes. But when on the transportation, we should let him take a rest.
Wow, he's so smart.
Because we'll have to talk, and think about responses and we'll all be really tired. I think it's a good boundary.
I think in business, at first I don't like to set boundaries between colleagues. I felt weird. But later, I realized if we don't set boundaries, sometimes, it's easy to have misunderstandings, or mistakes, and without boundary, we'll make us to have a quarrel more easily. But if we set a boundary at first, it will make us maintain longer relationships.
That’s a key point!
For instance, when sharing info between departments. We need to send emails, and write down details, and lay things out very clearly, but it's also a kind of boundary between people, it makes you feel like a little offended. But it's a positive boundary.
Why is that offensive?
If I trust you, I don't need to email you.
Or document things.
But if you something if something bad happens, you'll lose your trust with this guy.
So it's like transparency as a foundation for trust.
I think in a relationship it's like that. You know, trust is the boundary. Because you trust, you don't need to look, you don't need to check their emails, you don't need to check their cellphones. But some people misunderstand that. They think, because I trust you, because we trust each other, so there's nothing we need to hide from each other, so I can look at your emails, or your cellphone.
Setting a boundary makes longer relationships, what do you mean?
It's a kind of guarantee. Because you set the boundary, you will not be afraid of being betrayed or being hurt one day.
So the relationship can last longer? Because you already cut off the…
I just show you my boundary is here. And we made it very clearly.
Does setting boundaries create trust between people, or reduce trust?
Could setting boundaries ever reduce trust?
Did that guy trust me less?
I think, you say the truth, you tell him the true feeling, you let him understand you more, so I don't think it’s a reduce-trust thing. I think it should create trust.
Do you agree with her?
But you never know, you know?
I think the two situations will happen, but for some people, it'll reduce trust.
But for me, when I trust a person, when they set a boundary, I feel better. But when I don’t trust a person, then I feel bad, I trust less.
But you need to set a boundary with family.
Fanny just said she feels bad if a person she doesn't like sets a boundary. But when you set the boundary, why do you feel bad?
No, I mean, when the other person set the boundary for me.
But Stacy just said, you did it, so it's fair!
But it will reduce the trust of you.
But if someone you trust set a boundary for you, you won't feel hurt?
It's because I know him, I trust him, there's some reason to set boundary to me! But If I don't like this person, i'll say, why! Why he do this to me, does he think there's something wrong with me?
You have more compassion for someone you like.
That makes sense, though.
But my point is that trust has a boundary. You set out a boundary of trust.
For a parent the boundary of trust is bigger, or for a close friend, but someone you don't know, the boundary is much smaller.
Like 'this far, and no further'.
Does complying with boundaries indicate respect? Does setting boundaries indicate respect?
The first one, yes. x6
How about the second one?
Can I say, discussing boundaries, or communication about boundaries... because setting is just one way, but communication or negotiation is two way.
But can you negotiate boundaries with people?
I just want to leave you at 30 centimeters.
You don't like the hug, but I love hugs, so?
Just like my friend, 'leave me alone', but my other friend, oh, I want to be close to you!'
So there's no discomfort for your boundary.
But if you are a sales, and your customer says no, then…
But sales often use manipulation to push boundaries, and I don't think that's respectful.
Well, it's a common sales technique, you do something that leaves the customer feeling emotionally off-balance, and then at that moment give them some option that seems reasonable because they're off balance, that they wouldn't normally have considered. It's really not respectful. Because you’re not respecting their boundaries.
But maybe for the sales, the customer is saying no, because they don't know the benefits. Maybe...
But are you giving them information or pushing them to make a decision.