Guarding yourself against inappropriate Relationships
Whether in a personal relationship or a professional setting, maintaining boundaries is necessary in order to guard and protect a person’s reputation and integrity. A concept that I learned from Nicolas Ellen is that many relationships follow the natural progression of the 5 T’s. Being aware of this transition is an important tool in guarding your heart.
Time- Time is typically already a factor in most professional relationships. In addition to time spent inside the work place, also consider travel time or time alone in a vehicle with a co-worker of the opposite gender. As a rule, I never travel in the car alone with any female other than my wife. Taking this precaution will keep you and your co-workers above reproach.
Talking- Again, in most work environments communication is necessary. However, we are always aware and in control of the subject matter that drives our conversations. Ask yourself if your conversations are work related. If not, it is important to watch out for phrases like, “I feel like I can trust you with anything.” This type of comment made during a professional conversation may indicate that your co-worker has a blurred perception of the boundaries in your relationship.
Transparency- After a lot of time and a lot of talking, some professional conversations can cross into the realm of transparency. Warning signs of this sort of boundary being crossed include phrases like, “I have never told anyone this but…” or conversations that become extremely emotional and are confidential in nature. This sort of conversation may include discussion of family problems, troubles with a spouse or significant other, and other conversations that are shared with discretion.
Trust- After the previous boundaries have been crossed, a sense of trust forms. This is not referring to a professional trust, but trust of a personal kind. This sort of trust allows a co-worker to feel comfortable confiding in another, without regard to the appearance of the interaction. Often time’s men and women interpret this stage of the relationship differently. A woman might realize that she is in this stage of “trusting” another person, while the man might think that they are just participating in conversation. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to, “avoid every appearance of evil.” It is our obligation to guard our hearts.
Touching- It is my hope that through the awareness of this progression, one would be able to properly navigate professional relationships, and avoid compromising their reputation through this stage of the relationship progression. Remember, “A good name is to be valued above great riches.” –Proverbs 22:1.