One of the six ‘roles of engagement’ in Host Leadership is the Gatekeeper – the negotiator of boundaries and the welcomer at the door. Very often the Gatekeeper role is about setting expectations, encouraging people to get involved, helping to decide what’s appropriate here and encouraging people to play along nicely and co-operatively. Sometimes, however, it can be about letting people know that they are overstepping the mark, exceeding the boundary, and need to rethink their behaviour.
I cam across a very nice blog about this recently, entitled “We don’t do that here“. The author talks about how this simple phrase, “We don’t do that here”, has helped her in her professional career in pointing out quickly and clearly to folk that they have overstepped the mark. So, if someone is getting too close or taking too much personal space and someone else is getting uncomfortable, you can step and say “We don’t do that here”. The person may push back, saying something like “I was just trying to be friendly!”. This gives you the chance to affirm their intention, and also rule out their behaviour all in one sentence – “Yes, being friendly is great. And we don’t stand that close here.”
Notice that I put ‘and’ in that last sentence. It’s tempting to say ‘but’, but… the but tends to de-emphasise everything before it and minimise the affirming. So best stick to ‘and’.
I think this simple phrase can be a real gift to host leaders. It’s so brief, it’s so to-the-point, and it helps us build and reinforce ‘house rules’ and expectations in a very nice and yet firm way. Now please go read the blog, which gives more examples.
PS the blog featuring the post about “We don’t do that here” is called Thagomizer. It’s named after one of my very favourite Gary Larson cartoons: