Every relationship in your professional and personal life needs boundaries. It helps to guard against inappropriate behavior and gives you an awareness of your principles and what you’re willing to accept from people.
Your boundaries might be vastly different when it comes to your professional and personal relationships. In a working environment, everything can sometimes feel a bit more curated, uptight and restrained. Sometimes it’s difficult to assess whether your relationship is meaningful or just based on work norms. Still, the same questioning can apply to personal relationships, but there’s relatively more freedom to express yourself, your feelings and what you really think.
However, I think there’s value in letting the boundaries between personal and professional relationships blur to a degree. When your business relationships are made more personal, it’s easier to relate to each other, ask for help and work on challenging situations.
Showing vulnerabilities at work can feel like failing. Because everyone’s supposed to know what they’re doing at all times, right? This is one of the most challenging aspects of navigating through a workplace environment. Honesty about your capabilities or shortcomings can feel scary – what if you get fired?
But having co-workers or professional contacts who you can be authentic and honest around will endear them to you. You’re a human and humans reach out to each other when they need help or feel vulnerable, so don’t be ashamed to show your humanity. Talking through your struggles, frustrations, and interests allows people to see you for who you really are and in a more truthful way.
Often, people won’t think less of you for being vulnerable; they’ll think more of you. And if they don’t, then they probably weren’t worth opening up to anyway!
Showing insecurities can bring people closer towards you, they’ll empathize with you and they’ll actually feel like they can open up to you too.
Take Business Beyond the Workplace
Encouraging your workplace or business to meet outside of a work environment and do something fun can really help to enhance and bolster relationships. In a more relaxed setting, people can open up more, show their personalities and generally present a different side to themselves that they can’t in a restricted workplace. Crossing boundaries can lead to more positive relationships.
The same can be said with new clients. Instead of having a meeting in a stuffy room or a loud coffee shop, why not think outside the box and do something fun or relaxing, so you can relate on another level. Always make a note of personal details about your clients, so you can bring up topics again and connect over things outside of work. Don’t view the limitations with your clients; try to see the extra possibilities in your relationships and ways that you can boost your conversations.
Blurring boundaries can happen in lots of different aspects of a business. How can employees close a sale? By making a human connection, which can be as simple as having a conversation about someone’s dog!
You can also carry this ethos throughout your social and digital strategies too. Writing personality-driven copy to engage your readers and connect can be done in your marketing campaigns. You can use video content to show your brand’s personality and give an audience behind-the-scenes access to your business, so they can get to know you better.
With a more human-to-human approach, you’ll connect with an audience in an authentic way that’s built on treating them like multi-faceted humans and not just customers.
Blurring the boundaries is possible online by talking to your audience in a way that doesn’t patronize them and doesn’t fire corporate jargon at them either. Be flexible with language and the tone of voice that you use.
Your brand will be more noticeable and differentiated from others in your industry when you take the time to show your personality and think outside the box. Audiences will find your content and marketing efforts more memorable. If they have an interaction with a member of your team online or offline that crosses the boundaries and shows that your business cares about them as a person and what they have to say – you’ll stick in their mind.
It’s up to you to monitor boundaries and assess when it’s appropriate to cross them, but taking the time to view your professional or customer relationships as more personal can make a big difference to how they view you. Positive interactions based on authenticity and personality helps you connect on a human level.