Boundaries are those invisible lines around yourself that let your team know the limits of what they can say or do around you. Make your boundaries too solid and you build walls, too weak and you allow others’ actions to harm you. Take a few minutes to find out how well constructed your boundaries are.
1. I start statements with “I” rather than “you” or “we.” This lets me own what I say and is less defensive than “you,” and more clean than “we.”
2. My boundaries are specific and clear: “I don’t accept phone calls after 10 p.m.,” rather than the vague and mushy: “Don’t call me too late.”
3. I’m consistent when I create boundaries. If I say “no phone calls after 10 p.m.,” I don’t make exceptions unless the situation is exceptional.
4. When people attempt to cross my boundaries, I don’t assume the worst (they don’t care, they weren’t paying attention, they’re selfish and inconsiderate); I simply restate my position.
5. As soon as I realize I’m in a situation that might be headed for trouble, I announce my boundary: “I won’t continue talking with you if you raise your voice at me.”
6. I try to avoid situations and people where I know my boundaries will be continually tested.
7. I don’t take responsibility for how others respond to my boundaries. If someone feels resentment because I didn’t wait when she was twenty minutes late for our appointment, I don’t try to make it okay for her.
8. I respect others’ boundaries and ask for clarification when I’m not certain of limits. “May I talk to you about business after hours?”
9. When people refuse to respect my boundaries, I walk away rather than get into a situation that could escalate. I say why I’m leaving.
10. I let my team know when I have reconsidered a boundary. “It used to be okay for you to be late, but now…”
11. I believe that everyone has to create his or her own boundaries. What’s okay for me might not work for someone else.
Boundaries held firm can help make life easier, reduce conflict and improve relationships. Plus, they’re a real self-esteem booster. If you answered true to fewer than 6 of these questions, you might need some help with boundaries. Please don’t hesitate to call.
Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications