Progressive Boundary Setting for Interpersonal Conflict

The Goldilocks Paradox The Goldilocks Paradox is made up of two parts. Goldilocks means that every instance of interpersonal conflict has an optimum response that falls in the range of not being too much and not being too little. It is “just right”. A response that is too much can escalate the situation unnecessarily. A response that is too little can be ineffective and allow the situation to escalate. The Paradox is that while the majority of conflict resolution and self-defense techniques, tips, and advice taught by “experts” may have validity, they are unlikely to be “just right” for the individual and the particular situation at hand.

Progressive Boundary Setting Progressive Boundary Setting is an escalating series of communicating and enforcing behavioral limits. Progressive Boundary Setting is done by individuals through visual, verbal, and physical means. It is done by society through social pressure, rules, and laws. Progressive Boundary Setting determines and is the “just right” response to almost all situations of interpersonal conflict. Visual boundary setting is done primarily through the use of body language. Verbal boundary setting is done through assertive use of the voice. Physical boundary setting is done through physical actions. Therefore, the majority of conflict resolution and self-defense techniques, tips, and advice for interpersonal conflict may be viewed as a piece of Progressive Boundary Setting. For individuals, Progressive Boundary Setting is not an instinctive reaction. It is a learned behavioral response that must be learned and practiced through trial and error in order to be effective.

Civilized vs. Uncivilized Societies and Social vs. Anti-Social People

Respecting behavioral limits is the defining factor the separates civilized societies from uncivilized societies. It is also the defining factor that separates social people from anti-social people. In a situation of interpersonal conflict Progressive Boundary Setting is the most effective pro-active method for determining whether a person respects the limits of civilized society and will not use violence, or is anti-social and may use violence to satisfy his or her needs. Progressive Boundary Setting is used by the society as a whole to maintain respect and order. Every social structure whether private or public has some method of communicating and enforcing behavioral limits. Private organizations use rules, regulations, and penalties. The government communicates through legislative agencies and enforces through the police and the court system.

Progressive Boundary Setting is Effective with Both Social and Anti-Social People When there is a conflict between fundamentally social people, the use of ineffective methods of conflict resolution such as passiveness or aggressiveness will be unlikely to lead to violence due to the adherence to behavior limits of the people involved. But these methods are ineffective and may escalate the situation towards violence when dealing with an anti-social person. Progressive Boundary Setting has the flexibility to both handle social conflict and to provide the conviction needed to deal with the violence associated with conflict with an anti-social person.

The use of Progressive Boundary Setting is the “just right” response that solves the Goldilocks Paradox during situations of interpersonal conflict.