In my previous post, I mentioned that the first step in setting up boundaries is to know and understand oneself and then determine your boundaries and how you will maintain them. In this post, I am sharing 3 more steps to ensure effective boundaries.
Finding the middle path on the boundary spectrum
As human beings, we can go to two extremes in boundary setting. We can elect not to set up any boundaries at all thus allowing people to treat us the way they want. This impacts our sense of self-esteem internalizing our feelings which when they finally hit the surface can be volcanic and aggressive to the extent that the other person may not recognize us. Think of a pressure cooker which lets off steam.
On the other hand, we may become so rigid in our boundaries that we don’t allow people to come near us and refuse to change.
Ideally, we should set up boundaries that are fluid and flexible to match the need of the situation and the people we are dealing with. Our personal boundaries may change over time so a rule of thumb is to be adaptable but firm on matters of self esteem and principle.
Create your Boundary Statement and honor it
Boundaries can be set up as your principles, policies or rules with which you deal with the world around you. If you have problems setting up boundaries, then the best way is to write them down and look at them from time to time to remind you what boundaries you have set for yourself.
This is the second step to setting up boundaries.
Many years back, I found myself having work related health problems and the beginnings of a strain in my relationship with my family members who had started mentioning that I was treating the home more like a hotel.
To be honest, I was not surprised. I was putting in long hours at work, more often than not because new demands were being made on me, my subordinates or colleagues. None of us were able to complete our work on time and I was often caught in a situation of sitting waiting to complete my task. (This is one of the downsides of working in global organizations where some of your colleagues are coming into work when it is dinner time in your location and you should really be at home.)
When the migraines and fatigue started to kick in, I had to take a call. I could not eat another pizza to save my life and glugging coffee was just not working in my favour. I could not control or influence my colleagues who were equally fatigued but I could control my actions. I had a talk with our supervisor and we worked out a plan for the entire team.
In the meantime, I created my boundary statement when my doctor started to warn me about future health implications of my lifestyle.
I was much younger at the time but feel free to swipe some of the elements to create your boundary statement:
Communication is a vital key to success
Once you know your boundaries, communicate them to others. This is the third step and an important one because if others don’t know your boundaries, then they will unknowingly keep stepping over them and the purpose of the boundaries is lost.
Communicate the relevant boundary to the relevant person. There is no point telling your family that your weekends are only meant for family and you don’t want to be disturbed by work but it may be relevant to an associate or colleague who calls to vent or expects you to talk of work on a Sunday when it is not an emergency!
Communication can be done in subtle ways as well as explicitly. Do it whichever way works best for you but make sure that the message gets across. Practice this communication and in time it will become a second nature.
Self preservation requires protecting your boundaries
The fourth step is to protect your boundaries. In other words, communicating is not enough; you need to make sure that you make it clear by word and action that you mean business.
Be authentic, demonstrate integrity, be firm and polite and always be true to your word. In other words, your actions should speak louder than your words.
Returning to the boundary of weekends with family, you may choose not to answer your phone on the Sunday or you may take the call but politely say that you are busy with your family and inquire if the reason for the call is urgent. Complete the call in less than 5 minutes. The message will get through loud and clear.
There are other ways that you can help yourself and regain a balanced life. Each idea reinforces the concept of boundaries.
To Sum up
Enforcing boundaries you’re not used to enforcing is often not very easy. It is human nature to seek the approval of others but when it encroaches on your life and you lose control of your time, then surely practicing the protection of boundaries is a worthwhile and valuable effort.
Boundary setting and enforcing is an important skill required to be assertive and manage your time effectively. As with all skills, practice makes perfect.
Which steps will you take to reinforce your personal boundaries? Do you have any other recommendations or suggestions for creating effective boundaries? Please share in the comments box below.
Written By: Vatsala ShuklaFollow Me
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