Manager or Guardian?
Acquaintance or Friend?
Colleague or Confidant?
The lines can blur when someone crosses them; you may do it, too, without understanding the potential consequences.
Personal and professional relationships work well when they have stated and unstated boundaries that are honoured.
Boundaries signal to others what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s about making them aware of where they need to be mindful of your time, energy, privacy and space.
Responsibility for setting these boundaries rests with you; expecting others to read your mind and align to your expectations will only cause you more stress and frustration.
When boundaries are not honoured
1.Crucial conversations become difficult
– Objectivity is lost,
– Avoidance creeps in
2.Resentment and bitterness build-up
– Heavier emotions can lead to conflict
3.Relationships are strained
– Lack of open discussions lowers trust
4.Collaboration and cooperation break down.
– People don’t see eye to eye
– Teams work in silos
– Productivity suffers
– Alignment is missing
– Distractions rise
– Focus is lost
Why do people disrespect boundaries?
1.Assumptions, mistaken notions of familiarity
– People will behave based on their culture, upbringing and life experiences which can be completely different to yours.
2.Lack of clarity and maturity
– Not everyone has the same level of awareness or sensitivity; people are highly likely to transgress boundaries without meaning to
3.Overwhelming pressure, stress to get things done
– In the heat of of it, the focus is on getting things done, and people may not be mindful enough to know where they need to stop.
4.Unmet needs, misplaced beliefs
– What maybe a boundary for you could be a support sign for someone else depending on their internal make-up, world view and belief systems.
– If a person is used to not having to respect boundaries and suddenly is asked to, it requires a reorientation of habitual behaviours.
How can you set personal boundaries effectively?
1.Acknowledge that your needs matter
You matter, as do your voice and your needs. Being in a giving state constantly will make you feel depleted and resentful. Remember to nourish and honour your needs before extending more of yourself to serve others.
2.Strengthen your self-image and avoid over pleasing
People think about themselves more than they think of you; you cannot control how they feel about you. Learn to keep your word, do what you say you will do and watch your self-image rise, get stronger. Doing so will also help you assert yourself appropriately.
3.Work to overcome your fears – say no when needed.
Saying no is healthy; it prevents you from overpromising and underdelivering. It also makes you bolder, courageous and confident.
4.Call out behaviours that bother you.
Whatever you tolerate tends to persist. If you don’t like something, state it; if someone is being inappropriate, say so; feeling like you have to walk on eggshells around someone can be stressful and exhausting; avoid it.
5.Communicate your values and state your expectations
Let people know what you stand for, the values that matter to you and how they can honour them. Clarify your expectations, so there is little or no room for doubt.
6.Get clear on deliverables – yours as well as that of others.
When you are clear on what you are responsible for, it becomes easier to focus your attention and energy on taking care of it. In addition, becoming clear about what others are responsible for helps you hold them accountable.
7.Empathize and offer support, but don’t own their problems
Everyone is going through some challenge; when you have the opportunity to be of help, do so; however, remember it is their challenge and not yours.
Not being mindful of this can cause problems and send wrong signals to others about your role and responsibility in addressing their challenge.
Requests for favours and obligations will come up throughout your life.
However, saying yes to everything because you are afraid or don’t want them to feel bad or think poorly about you is an unhealthy way of building relationships and establishing boundaries.
Your emotional well-being is your responsibility, don’t neglect it.
No matter how much you care, you can’t solve everything; each adult is responsible for their life. So teach them how to treat you, honour your boundaries, and remember to respect theirs.
Points to Ponder
- What’s important to me that I want others to honour in all interactions?
- Have I communicated or expressed that clearly?
- Who or what is testing my boundaries, patience?
- How do I make them aware of the need to honour these boundaries?
- Where do I need to be more patient and understanding before judging others?