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Setting Boundaries – Part 2

May 2nd, 2011 · No Comments · Personal Leadership

Coaching Tip:
Whenever I’ve tried setting a boundary in the past it hasn’t gone well. Any tips on how I can do this better?

Many of us have felt concerned that just attempting to set a boundary will have a negative effect on a relationship, instead of enhancing it. When we aren’t sure how to address an issue, often we avoid it. Then we may become so frustrated that rather than extend a boundary, we “blow up.” It is possible to set a boundary with heart and grace, and here’s a five-step approach I’ve found very helpful:

  1. Identify where you need to extend your boundaries. Define what you won’t tolerate any longer and the consequence if your boundary isn’t honoured. Our feelings give us valuable clues. Feeling irked, hurt or angry often points to a missing or weak boundary. Attune to the message within your feelings to uncover where it’s time for a new boundary.
  2. Define what you want, what you won’t tolerate and the consequences. Often this is the most difficult part – defining what you want. Articulating a new boundary challenges us to define ourselves and our needs in new ways. It honours ourself to even envision a new possibility.
  3. Get support. Work through how to word your conversation and discharge any emotion. Ask a friend, support buddy or your coach to listen as you release pent up feelings and craft your phrasing. The key to success is being “charge neutral” when we start a boundaries conversation.
  4. Inform and request. Pick a neutral time when the boundary issue isn’t occurring. With heart and clarity inform the person, using “I” statements. Request the change and inform them of the consequences.
  5. Next time it happens, stop the action, re-inform and re-request. If the behaviour continues, follow through on the consequences. Repeat, like a broken record, until the boundary is honoured. In some situations, when the other person is simply not willing to respect your requested boundary, it might lead to ending the relationship. However, in most situations, this deepens understanding, trust and respect.

Boundary-setting is a skill that you can learn. Understanding and practicing the principles of life-supporting boundaries will guide you to respectful, empowering and authentic relationships.

“Every time you practice standing for yourself you’ll inhabit the fullness of who you are. It’s a deposit in your “spiritual bank account” of courage and confidence.” ~ Cheryl Richardson


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