Boundaries and assertiveness

Between dealing with people at my retail job, my high school students that I tutor, and recently from a training session to tutor college students, the topics of boundaries and assertiveness have come up a lot.

Retail Job:
Customers will ask crazy things from you to get what they want.  example: I had a lady yesterday have me look all over the store for a 70% off clearance item.  When I didn’t find it she gave me her contact info and asked me to call if I found it later.  A few hours later she called and wanted information on where else she could find this $10 shirt she can wear over her bathing suit while boating.  There was also a lady who tried to exchange worn shirts from 2007 for new ones.  While my job requires me to try to make a customer happy, there is a fine line between being helpful and getting taken advantage of.

Managers will ask crazy things from you to get what they want.  The area that I work in (well actually the entire store) is understaffed.  My manager expects us to hit a high set sales goal, greet and assist every customer on the floor, keep fitting rooms clean, and keep clothing racks straight, and open multiple credit card accounts weekly.  Most days I spend 90% of my time behind the counter ringing customers items.  Instead of worrying that I may get fired, I realize that it’s not my fault we don’t have enough people and do as much as I can.  Also managers will ask you to stay late or come to work early because of the lack of staff.  Even though I want to earn as much as I can before school starts, I need to set boundaries and make sure that staying late at work negatively influences the other aspects of my life.

High school tutoring:
Since I have recently started my job and other tutoring gig, my time to tutor has become limited (but not non-existent).  They are high school freshman and haven’t yet developed the skills to plan too far ahead.  They usually request tutoring less than 24 hours ahead of time or during times where I have said I am not available.  Because they probably have not had to schedule a lot of things on their own before, I need to understand that they need to work on this, but I still need to let them know that I can’t come whenever they want.

College tutoring:
I recently attended formal tutor training for college tutoring.  I expected most of the session to cover how to teach and study effectively which is really boring.  While they covered it, the two 4 hour sessions mostly focused on communication skills, creating boundaries, and being assertive (and not passive or aggressive).  I was pretty impressed with the training because 1) they knew that we knew how to study and take notes based on our grades and 2) there was a big focus on BOTH the tutor and the tutee getting the most out of each session.  The instructors were not naive and knew that many students will either try to blow off tutoring or feel awkward about sessions and need to overcome it.  The session reinforced what my retail job and HS tutoring sessions had been suggesting.  It also gave me guidelines on what my boundaries should be (with availability and what to do with difficult people) and how to deal with issues in an assertive way where both parties are happy.


About myscientificlife

Welcome to myscientificlife! I recently completed my undergrad at State University. I am currently taking a year off of school and applying to graduate schools. This lovely blog is mostly about my journey towards grad school and other things I find interesting, such as food, podcasts, and books. Probably mostly food. You can reach me at
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