Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Boundaries - Part II

Yesterday's blog dealt with establishing boundaries with ordinary folks whom you want to teach how to treat you.

Part II is about the need to thwart people who are inappropriate, untrustworthy or outright abusive.

Hopefully in 2006, we are able to tell someone they are being inappropriate without apology, establishing a clear boundary.

Recently some of my actresses have told me about other actors or crew members who have hit on them at film sets - *even though* the women clearly established they are married, engaged, not available or not interested in seeking a relationship.

While the actresses tell me they have been polite about telling the inappropriate men they are not interested, and the men were not insistent (like this makes them OK after all), the women were actually incensed about being approached in the first place.

Since the set is a workplace, the situation is dicey - because you don't want someone upstaging you in every scene if he gets pissed for you telling him to ... um, get lost, as it were. But because it is a workplace, the director, producer or production manager should be able to help you if they are made aware that anyone is being inappropriate.

If I have the slightest notion inappropriateness may take place on my set when I direct, I make it clear *nothing* can interfere with the work. I find the director usually sets the tone for appropriate/inappropriate behavior on the set. It's never happened on any of my films.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure that absolute politeness is in order if a coworker you barely met sexualizes the workplace (that's the definition of sexual harrassment, btw).

So you just might have some retorts ready. Like:

Cut it out.
You know better.
Are you kidding?
Don't do this - you make yourself look desperate.
Don't tell me you're one of those guys who's always after unavailable women.
Oh, man. I lost a bet with my (husband/boyfriend/fiancee). I thought you were *gay.* (Walk away)
My boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/fiancee isn't into three-ways.
Hey, I know Chris Hansen and he's doing a new show on workplace predators for Dateline.

Seriously, I guess the only thing I can suggest is to be as prepared as you can and not be afraid to tell them to stop it. To cut it out.

The problem is - we've all been there - it always happens when we're totally vulnerable, when we're not expecting or even slightly suspecting that someone would be so inappropriate - which is usually part of their plan.

And heaven knows we wouldn't want anyone to think of us as or call us a *bitch* even though the other person is somehow permitted to be totally out of line and receive a polite rebuff.

Here's the bottom line: inappropriate, untrustworthy behavior can grow into something way ugly if it isn't stopped up front and in a way that means business.

Abusive behavior cannot be tolerated at all because it will undoubtedly grow.

Here's something Oprah Winfrey outlined in a recent program that I think everyone should heed:

First comes the whisper - your gut has a notion: something is wrong.

Ignore that inkling, and that inkling develops into a clear message: something is wrong.

Ignore the message? It expands into a recognizable problem.

Ignore the problem? A crisis is created.

Left unattended, the crisis progresses into a full blown disaster.

Want to avoid a personal disaster? Listen to your gut.

Then believe it and act on it - no matter what anyone says to deny or contradict it.



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