Boundaries: Practical Tips
I am so grateful that I have been able to share a topic I am so passionate about with you all. As we wrap up our talks on boundaries, and specifically boundaries in the workplace, I wanted to share just a few practical tips for getting started. If you have not read the previous two blogs in this series, please take a few minutes to check them out here, The What's and the Why's of Boundaries, Boundaries in the Workplace.
The first point I want to discuss is the solidarity of boundaries. I briefly touched on this last week when talking about not allowing other people’s thoughts to impact yours. I explained that this wasn’t an excuse or free pass to not consider other people’s opinions or to be harsh and demanding. We want to strive for balance! You want to make sure your boundaries are clear and are respected by others, but you have to allow some wiggle room and flexibility too, which allows for safe relationships. You want to create boundaries that allow you to exercise control over what you allow in your life/space/relationships yet are not so set that they make you resistant to change. There are two types of unbalanced boundaries that are often seen, rigid and porous.
Rigid boundaries leave no room for overstepping even accidental. Those with rigid boundaries often find themselves becoming confrontational or aggressive. These sorts of boundaries close you off from everyone and repel relationships. On the flip side, if you have porous boundaries, your boundaries are weak and lack depth. You easily give in and allow people to violate your boundaries. Your boundaries may be seen, but they will be easy to ignore or discredit due to their lack of strength. You want to create boundaries that are strong and allow you to exercise control over your life but have room for flexibility and changes when necessary.
Now, some actionable tips...
1. Identify where a boundary is needed.
This can be done through a boundary audit, where you analyze the people/relationships and situations/interactions in your life that cause discomfort or distress. Look for times and situations where you experience resentment, anger, discomfort, and so on.
2. Define what needs to change and decide where your limits will be.
Once you find the areas that need to be changed, define the boundary you want to create, and what the limits will be in that boundary. You need a way to measure if an interaction is acceptable within the parameters of your new boundary.
3. Communicate what your boundary is.
Healthy and appropriate boundaries are meant to be good for both parties and to build healthy
and strong relationships. But if you want others to respect and work within your boundaries you have to clearly communicate what they are to those that will be held to it. Be up-front but avoid becoming defensive or using accusing language. Make sure it is about you, and what you allow. Versus controlling what others do or say.
4. Be upfront and honest when a boundary has been crossed.
Like anything, new ways of interacting and communicating will take practice. If there is someone that you truly want in your life, or have to be around (i.e., a co-worker) then be intentional about communicating with that person about how the boundary was violated. This allows you to restate the boundary and acknowledge that it was crossed. This also gives that person the opportunity to learn and take to heart your boundaries.
5. Be ready for pushback.
When you have established new healthy boundaries and expectations of others, there will be some people that react in a negative way. People are creatures of habit, and someone changing causes anxiety or confusion. When someone has crossed a boundary, they may get angry and defensive. This is why clear communication is so important, by creating open dialogue you can gauge whether their reaction is due to it being new, or if this is a toxic relationship that needs changes. Just keep reminding yourself why you are doing this, and that as you get better at setting boundaries, those in your life will get more accustomed to it, and ultimately you will reap the benefits of healthier, life-giving relationships.
6. Remember you are not responsible for how someone else reacts to your boundaries.
You do not need to justify or apologize for setting appropriate and healthy boundaries. You can only control how you respond/react to their actions. So, let go of that burden, and remember they are responsible for their reactions.
Well folks, I am going to wrap up this series on boundaries. I want to thank you all for joining me on this journey and I hope you learned some helpful tips! If you have any questions about boundaries or want to chat about building an accountability
partnership with us, please reach out we can’t wait to get to know you!
*There are many resources online to learn about boundaries for free. I really love Henry Clouds’ book, Boundaries. It is a great resource to dive deep into all different types of boundaries with all the relationships in your life. Heads up, it is a faith-based book with biblical scriptures used throughout, if you are not comfortable with that then it might not be the book for you.