What is the Agenda? It’s None of Your Business!

You know that I stand for honesty, openness and truthfulness in relationships. But I also believe that these things need to be tempered by our self-respect, as evidenced by the boundaries that we place for ourselves on our relationships with others.

sand dune fence on the Jersey shore

How firm are your boundaries? Do they keep you where you want to be while allowing for exceptions and special circumstances?

Sometimes, we allow our boundaries to shift under the force of another’s agenda or in response to a more important agenda of our own.

You’ve probably heard that some corporations insist on shoulder-surfing the Facebook pages of applicants during the interview. Their agenda is to see information about the applicant that they cannot legally ask, information to be used as part of the hiring decision that is not related to the person’s job qualifications. Applicants, hungry for the job and facing competition, are complying. Applicants have one agenda: get the job. They may well allow their boundaries to shift, choosing to sacrifice some self-respect in exchange for a chance at a paycheck. Anyone who has been unemployed for a while has already sacrificed some self-respect just to survive. It’s easier to sacrifice a little more.

I don’t know what I would do in that situation.

I do know this is not a 21st century problem. It existed long before the first paycheck was ever issued. It existed before kings demanded loyalty oaths. It has probably existed for as long as people have formed friendships and communities. We set boundaries, and then something comes along and next thing we know, we’ve moved one. We allow one exception, or several, to breach the boundary.

Several years ago, I was unemployed for several months. Then, happy day, a job offer! All that stood in the way were a few perfunctory calls to my references. Or so I thought. It turned out that the owner of the new company knew a previous employer from nearly 10 years earlier. The past company owner, since retired, held a grudge and was happy to get his revenge. Desperate to salvage the job offer, I called the current owners, with whom I had also worked, and explained the situation. They were willing to help. But then one of them asked me whether I really wanted to work for a company that a) put credence in a person of this character, b) were unwilling to share with me what had been told, and c) no matter what, would forever view me with suspicion?

I knew he had a point. Turning around the situation would require that I move a boundary farther than I wanted to. I knew that every day I would resent the new company because I had sold out. I couldn’t be true to myself. I would not be able to bring the level of commitment to the job my self-respect required.

Whether sharing your Facebook page would require you to shift a boundary too far is for you to decide. I suppose it depends on what it might reveal about you. It’s easy to move a boundary when the only risk is to a private principle. It’s easier when the payoff is something we desperately need.

Not every boundary can be held fast, life is complex and nuanced. Not every boundary merits that kind of commitment. Sharing a Facebook page is hardly on the same plane as committing murder. But we still need boundaries. We still need to honor them when we can, and we need to acknowledge to ourselves when we cannot.

By the way, you do know you can deactivate a Facebook account? Your content remains, but it is not visible. To anyone. To reactivate, log in with the same email address and password you used to deactivate it.

Life Is Honest, Open and True: What boundaries do you have that you will not move? Which ones move with the shifting winds? Do you have any now that you’ve moved and need to return to their rightful spot?

Related Post: Honoring Our Boundaries

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