Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Set out your stall

If you are skilful at engaging with people and winning their trust, convincing them that you are a helpful and reliable person there is a danger that they will come to rely on you more and more and bring more and more of their problems and concerns to you. This can easily lead to you being overloaded, stretching yourself too thinly and potentially getting yourself into difficulties. So, it is important to be clear about what we can help with and what we can’t – to ‘set out our stall’, as it were. If we lose sight of the boundaries of our role and become a general helper, it can be confusing all round. It can also prove stressful, as it means we have no control over our workload – the demand can be potentially infinite if people start bringing to us issues and concerns that are not part of our remit. The ability to be effective in negotiating expectations (making it clear where our role begins and ends and sticking to it) can be difficult at times, but it remains an important skill to have if we are not to allow ourselves to be pulled in all directions.

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