Mentoring – A to Z: Boundaries

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Finish Strong, Mentoring - A to Z
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Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, we had stone boundaries around our property lines. Now we didn’t put up any of those boundaries, they were there from years gone by. The fields in PA are full of stones and rocks. Every time a farmer plowed his field, a new harvest of stones popped up. They would be picked up and stacked along the property lines forming the boundary walls. You knew when you came to a stone wall, you were at the boundary of that property.

Mentoring relationships need to establish healthy boundaries just like any other relationship. To remain healthy, good communication of expectations should take place when establishing an official mentoring relationship (some mentoring is very casual and there is no structure). When everyone involved understands what the other is expecting and it is agreeable to the terms, you have established the boundaries of the relationship.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind in establishing your boundaries:

  • Establish a reasonable schedule of time either of you are available. If you have a mentor in your workplace, don’t take up so much of their time that they cannot finish their tasks or responsibilities. Likewise, don’t overburden your mentee so that he/she cannot accomplish their tasks. More often than not, this relationship will not be 24/7. Respect the other person’s time.
  • Define the areas of your life you will allow your mentor to give you guidance. Some people are looking for a holistic approach while others are looking only for only professional mentoring. Know what areas of life are open for direction or direction is to be given.
  • Remember that the mentoring relationship is between you and your mentor and does not extend to the rest of your family nor does it extend into their family. Keep the relationship between the two parties only.

For the more casual mentoring relationships where there isn’t set times, agendas, or program for development, the need for boundaries is just as important. In these types of relationships, the boundaries may not be spoken or shared. They are more likely boundaries you set for yourself and guarded. You are responsible for being the gatekeeper in those situations.

Remember that uninvited guests who cross boundary lines are considered trespassers. And you have seen the signs concerning trespassers, right?


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