Hi! My name is Elizabeth Grim (she/her). I am an evaluation consultant helping organizations build their evaluation capacity and tell their story through data. I am also President Elect of the Eastern Evaluation Research Society (EERS).
As we cross the year anniversary of the global coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of boundaries. Physical boundaries like borders separating families and friends. Ethical boundaries such as what falls under the sphere of influence of a project. And personal and professional boundaries navigating work and relationships.
Like many others, I’ve noticed a blurring of personal and professional boundaries during the past year as my work and home spaces became one. Some of these shifts have been positive, helping me to become more authentic and human at work. Others have been challenging, such as holding space for participation and reflection during online conferences (like the upcoming EERS conference: Capacity, Complexity, Collaboration on May 3 & 4).
As I’ve become more intentional and explicit about my boundaries, I have also learned that we cannot control how people react and respond to our boundaries. We can only set and honor them for ourselves.
- Trust your gut – As evaluators we sometimes want to logic our way in and out of situations. I have found that understanding how my body feels can often be more of a boundary check than listening to my brain. One way to become more in touch with these sensations is through establishing a breathwork practice.
- Schedule time for reflection – Believing in reflection and practicing reflection are different. Since colleagues can see and add meetings to my calendar, it can be a struggle to protect my time. I have started scheduling time on my calendar before and after meetings to allow for preparation and debrief notes. I also add half days that say “no meetings” so I can read, reflect, and apply my learning.
- Honor your no – It is ok to not be available. It is ok to not accept a project. Recently I told a client that I was very interested but I could only work for them on certain days and hours right now. I realized this could be a dealbreaker and wanted to be transparent. It wasn’t. They hired me and we honored that boundary.
- How to Manage Expectations and Set Boundaries During Client Onboarding provides a list of questions to ask and discuss when starting new projects.
- Set and Defend Boundaries While Consulting shares examples of how to identify your values and boundaries, including determining which of your boundaries are sacred versus firm.
Looking for a way to connect with evaluation colleagues outside of AEA365? Join EERS for our virtual conference – Capacity, Complexity, Collaboration – on May 3 & 4. Sessions include asking the right questions, trauma-informed evaluation, designing informative reports, creating a learning culture, evaluating community prevention, and more. Registration is open now and all are welcome!
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