Intrusions from carefree guests can be very stressful. It seems like everybody knows, at least, one person that wears out their welcome after a get-together or comes to stay a week and is still there 2 weeks later. Some people can take advantage of a friendship and never display an ounce of guilt or remorse. When this happens to you there are 3 ways you can react. You can be too passive and let the guest take advantage of your kindness. You can also be too aggressive and bring the friendship to a screeching halt or you can be assertive and cope with the problem in a positive and proactive way. Assertiveness is crucial in dealing with intrusive house guests.
Plan & Prepare – The easy way out would be to never invite a potential intrusive guest to a party or for an extended stay in your home. The truth is, you might actually like the person when they are not overstaying their welcome. They might be funny, fun to be with, and a good friend for the most part. However, even the best of friends can clash when boundaries are not drawn and avenues for friction are left wide open and unattended. Whether this person has been invited for a short get together or is coming for an extended visit, prepare for their arrival and have a plan in place to prevent the inevitable.
Establishing Ground Rules – There is a good reason rules exist. They are there to keep things under control. Some people are afraid to set ground rules prior to a planned event because they don’t want to hurt feelings or seem like a “party pooper”. It seems no one wants to be that type of host, but if you don’t pursue this course of action, you are asking for your area to be intruded upon. When boundaries are not set situations can get out of control. Some guests can perceive “no rules” as “anything goes.” Sure, we would like to believe that everyone we know will always be respectful and considerate when invited into our home, but unfortunately, reality tells us something different.
You can prevent guest visits from becoming intrusions by setting the rules prior or at the start of the event. Sometimes it is easier to explain the rules to the entire group so no one feels singled out. Once all the guests have arrived gather them together and make a quick speech. The process does not need to take long, but it needs to be clear and direct. Let everyone know that when the party ends everyone goes home. If there are areas of the home that are off limit; let it be known at this time. If you have spent your hard-earned money on a beautiful carpet or new furniture, ask everyone to be careful. Establishing clear ground rules takes assertiveness, but it can save you unnecessary stress in the long run.
Don’t Be a Doormat – Nobody should voluntarily want to be treated like a “doormat.” But you know the old saying, “nice guys finish last.” There is nothing wrong with being nice, but you cannot allow some people to mistake “kindness” for “weakness.” Just like a wolf, lion or tiger zeros in on the weakling in the herd; the intrusive guest could take advantage of your weakness and move in for the proverbial kill. Your inability to say “no” or to “draw a line in the sand” on specific issues may be perceived as permission to proceed guilt-free. It is imperative that you stand up for yourself and your home against guest intrusions.
The Clear & Direct Approach – Assertiveness is considered to be the ability to express your feelings in a direct, clear, and effective way. It is about standing up for what you want and believe. You can accomplish these goals and still respect the rights of your guest. You can handle guest intrusions while still being proactive and positive. Let’s assume you are letting a friend or relative bunk at your house until they can find a job and their own place to live. It is good to be in a position to help, but boundaries must be set to keep the stay from being “open-ended.” If you simply say the guest can stay until they obtain their goals; they might take it as permission to stay as long as needed.
Let your guest know from the start what you expect. For example, you can ask them to clean up after the mess they make. You should set a time limit on their stay or simply let them move in and forget about it. Unless the guest is only staying a night or two, a different set of boundaries must be set. An extended visit of this type is not a vacation. The guest should be treated respectfully, but their amenities should be more controlled and limited. Visits turn into intrusions when the host lacks assertiveness.
The rules of mutual respect can be observed, but be firm on your objectives. A true friend will not overstep their boundaries unless they assume that none exist. Prepare and address guest intrusions with an honest straightforward approach. There is no stress-free alternative to assertiveness in this scenario.