What you tolerate, you permit.  What you judge, gets repeated. 

Humans tend to show up in extremes – either you are turning a blind eye, or you are super critical to the nth degree. With this in mind, you are constantly in a ping pong game of permitting things that you don’t really want or judging things that don’t please you. When you do have any energy to make a change? 

Consider any area of your life – a messy coat closet in your home, for example.  How many times do you open that closet door to retrieve something and never notice the mess?  Or the other occasions when you open the door and begin judging your family (or yourself!) for being lazy, messy, rude…..  At the end of the day, the closet will stay messy and you will use up all of your mental energy in permitting or judging. 

The antidote is setting appropriate expectations and boundaries – and all with the magic, secret weapon of managing your emotions. 

Tall order?  I’m always encouraging my clients and students to find the neutral place – get neutral.  That is the place where you’re even, observing and assessing – not judging or reacting. 

Why is this important as we look at expectations and boundaries versus tolerations and judgement?  You have to have a clear head to see what is really going on and you have to be in a forgiving, neutral place to break the pattern.  

Let’s go back to tolerations and judgments and look at the mechanics: 

Turning a blind eye happens because you have put up with it so long that it has become a part of your “normal”.  When you step back to assess in neutrality, you can see that it’s insane what you are tolerating.  That is likely to make you angry.  The anger turns to judgement and both fuel your reaction.  The thing that you’ve been putting up with all of a sudden becomes a national emergency.  And the people who have been doing the thing that you have been putting up with are on the receiving end of your reaction.  But, they are confused.  You have implicitly informed them – maybe for years – (by your toleration) that this behavior is acceptable.  And now you’re ticked off?  You react and then they react and soon everyone is judging everyone else and you have – well, a mess. 



Today you are taking an assessment of what is working and not and you realize that you have allowed a certain behavior in your environment.  Either too busy to notice or too conflict-adverse to address it, it continues.  Have your feelings, for sure.  Don’t react to them.  Continue to assess and ask yourself what behavior you’d prefer.  When you figure it out, come clean.  “Guys this thing has been going on for some time and I apologize that I’ve never addressed.  I want to reset the expectation.  This is the expectation. What do you think we can do to change?  You might get some pushback – “this is the way we have always done it”.  It’s ok. no reaction needed.  Simply hold the boundary that the expectation has created.  The boundary creates safety and direction. “I know that’s the way we have done it for a year.  It’s important that we change it for these reasons….”   

When you create the change…don’t leave it dangling.  Coach those who are not meeting the new expectation (coach = asking open ended questions, sharing your observations and holding the intention that the person will make a good choice) and recognize the behaviors that you want to see continued. 

Soon, the toleration evaporates, and a new expectation is put into place. 

Where are you tolerating and, more importantly, why?  Take a self-assessment with these following tips:  

  1. Awareness:  You walk into the room and feel an energy drain.  What have you been tolerating that you may have never truly noticed? 
  2. Hold Your Reaction:  When you realize the toleration, what emotion do you feel?   
  3. The New Expectation:  What would you prefer to see instead?   
  4. Manage the Change:  Who else needs to be involved and what more needs to be communicated?   
  5. Coach and Recognize:  How can we sustain the new normal?   

The energy you formerly expended with the nagging tolerations and the mental chatter of judgment can be better spent creating the life and business that you desire.  It just takes a little awareness, some new expectations and then asking for what you want. 

Mary Pat Knight, CEO of Leaders Inspired, is a Transformation Strategist, Speaker, Facilitator, and Coach committed to leadership and emotional intelligence in the workplace. She is known for cutting through corporate drama to create laser focus for powerful business and personal results for her clients. 

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