Flexibility is a good thing.
Sometimes—and about some things—we need to be inflexible: We need to have boundaries. We need to decide what we are going to accept and what we are not going to accept. Actually, we probably already know, deep down (we can tell by what upsets us—that’s a signal), we just need to articulate the parameters properly to ourselves, and our colleagues, if they’re involved.
Then we need to make our boundaries clear and visible to those we are interacting with, whose compliance we need—and whose liberty-taking is causing us problems.
Funnily enough, it can be in the other party’s interest to be compelled to act in a certain way if they want a particular outcome. They may benefit from that kind of influence.
For example, having high expectations of the time-keeping and focus of participants in events and workshops may actually be part of the learning. They need—maybe in some ways want—to be called out on their distracted behaviour, like checking their phones for email, or just not turning up at all.
Rather than being soft and accommodating, we may be more help to people if we set fair boundaries, communicate them clearly, and are robust in their defence.
How are your boundaries looking?