Why don’t we ever say anything to Shelia in accounting when she, continually, pilfers our favourite pens? Nor do we say anything to our friend Brian, when he assumes that we will pick up the tab…again? Why don’t tell our parents that we’d love for them to come and stay with us, but not for 10 days?
Why don’t we ever say anything?
It’s because we don’t have boundaries. And, we are afraid of what might happen if we lay some down. But this is a mistake, according to Brene Brown. It’s also one of the biggest misconceptions that she found in her research. While you might be thinking that if you put down some boundaries people might get upset, or even stop liking you. She found that putting down boundaries has the opposite effect. It doesn’t make people like you less or make you feel horrible. It actually increases your capacity for love and compassion.
‘The most compassionate and loving people i have met are those with firm boundaries’ – Brene Brown
You can watch more of her amazing interview here. http://www.estherperel.com/boundaries/
How can you become better at boundaries? My advice is to use ‘The 3 Be’s’:
- Be true to yourself. The more we stifle our inner voice, the harder it is becomes to act how we really want to be. The more you start listening and acting accordingly, the easier it becomes.
- Be clear. Don’t make the mistake of being ambiguous thinking that it will make things easier. It won’t. It will only make things more confusing. Don’t be passive aggressive, hoping they will get the hint (they don’t think anything is wrong, why would they be looking for a hint?)
- Be kind. This means being kind to yourself first, by setting the boundary. And then kind to the other person, by giving a straightforward, calm, and clear delivery. Assume that this person is doing the best they can and not, intentionally, trying to piss you off.
Most importantly, if you follow these three rules, it means that you won’t be caught up in their response. They are free to react to you, however they would like. You did your bit, the only part you have any control over, and now they can do theirs. You are separate from them. You are not responsible for them.
I will be giving a talk on ‘How to turn a confrontation into a conversation with work colleagues’ this Tuesday at an event run by Stylist. You can find out more here.