July 25, 2021

Rachel Strella

Why It’s OK to Make Some Things Non-Negotiable


Recently, one of my friends sought my advice on a problem she was encountering at her workplace. She had been dealing with an unruly boss who frequently asked her to fulfill responsibilities outside of her job description. He disregarded her requests to align her responsibilities with the role she was hired for, and he refused to pay her more for the additional work he was piling on her. Frustrated and uncertain of how to move forward, she asked for my insight in hopes I could offer guidance.

The Fallout When Expectations Are Not Aligned

It’s not uncommon for expectations to become mismatched or unfulfilled. This can happen in our personal as well as professional lives. When such a misalignment happens, it’s time for both parties to communicate and get on the same page. 

Sadly, I’ve found that open communication to settle differences in expectations doesn’t happen as often as it should. Sometimes, the fear of confrontation gets in the way of addressing a situation, so it festers. There are also times when a situation is addressed, but the other party is reluctant to listen and do their part in resolving the issue. Such was the case for my friend, which makes for a challenging situation. 

How we handle similar challenges is determined by our values and life philosophy. For instance, I have created a set of “non-negotiables” that guides my interactions. Simply put, non-negotiables are things that I will not tolerate. If a non-negotiable occurs, I end the relationship. Game over — no matter what’s at stake. 

Here are some examples of my non-negotiables:

  • Anyone who talks down to, belittles, or yells at me (a.k.a. jerks!)
  • False or deceptive behavior, particularly when it comes to family or financial matters
  • Lack of communication, especially about important or time-sensitive information 
  • Ignoring direct questions or requests

Clearly, if I were my friend, it would have been easy for me to tell that boss to go fly a kite. But, since I’m not, the best advice I could offer was to establish her own list of non-negotiables. 

And so she did!  

She drafted an extensive list of expectations, which covered everything she would no longer tolerate from a job or a boss. When I reviewed the list, I was saddened by what she had been subjected to; she tolerated too much for too long. 

We Teach People How To Treat Us

It’s important to know what you stand for — and what you won’t stand for! Thankfully, my friend left her job. She feels relieved. She’s less stressed and focused on finding better opportunities. I’m confident that with her list of non-negotiables to guide her, she will attract a far more favorable employment environment.

Do you have non-negotiables that guide you in maintaining healthy business and personal relationships? I’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment and continue the conversation!

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