Boundaries are essential. Without them we have no control over our life, and our relationships are unhealthy. By saying what you need clearly and in an assertive manner, you build a relationship that is mutually beneficial. What’s more, you invite the other person to respect you and value your work.
Despite knowing all this, saying no can be very difficult! Let’s be clear, compromise is important. But healthy compromise can only happen when both people respect each other’s boundaries. So how do we set clear boundaries when the other person doesn’t understand, or doesn’t respect, you?
Setting boundaries, and maintaining them, is a lifestyle. It can become easier over time as you become more comfortable speaking up. Here are three steps you can practice setting your boundaries. You may have to repeat this process many times, but what’s important is that you are consistent. Who you are, your time, energy, skills and attention are all valuable, so honour them.
- Don’t apologise or use passive language
Telling someone that they need to adjust the way they behave or communicate can be uncomfortable, especially when you’re not sure how they will respond. So we tend to soften the blow by using apologetic and passive language. Saying things like, “sorry to bother you” or “would you mind?” Or even “I’m probably overreacting but…”. Can you see the problem with all those phrases? They take away your power and enforce the idea that the person doesn’t really need to comply with your boundaries. You are trying to be nice, but you sound wishy washy. So back yourself. You can be friendly and still be firm. Phrases like “I require…” or “Thanks for your work on this, moving forward please…” are useful!
- State what you need clearly, make the steps obvious
Don’t pad your request with lots of words and details that distract the other person. Instead, communicate directly and with warmth. State what you need clearly and quickly, and then state how the other person can do this. This could be as simple as saying, “Please don’t email me after work hours, I only read/respond at this set time.” Or, Please bring a plate of food to dinner so we have enough to eat,” and “I did the cooking tonight, so it is your turn to do the dishes. Please do them straight after dinner so you don’t forget before bed.”
- Shut the door on any other options
Giving people steps to follow shuts the door on other options, otherwise people may slowly broach boundaries, forget, or ignore them. This could be as simple as saying, “I only read and respond to emails at this time on these days,” or, “I am not available on these days.” Then stick to your boundaries. Follow through for yourself so they know you are unwilling to compromise on these things, and in turn respect their boundaries.
Do people treat you like a door mat? Do you struggle to say no? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment with Colleen or Duncan click BOOK ONLINE NOW.