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  • Writer's pictureBrad Gay

Setting Boundaries #1

As leaders we are often put into circumstances that can leave us feeling overwhelmed and wondering how we got there? How did the situation escalate and why didn’t I act sooner to stop it?

I do a fair bit of coaching and a concept that I explore with my clients is boundaries. What are boundaries? Pretty much how it sounds. Think of it as the fence around your house, if I leap your fence I have crossed a boundary uninvited. I’m likely to get a hostile response or at the very least an inquiry into what the heck I’m doing in your property?

In life we often have our boundaries but sometimes we aren’t clear with other people about what our boundaries are. Sometimes we don’t actually know our boundaries until someone as tripped over it. For example someone yells at you and you say excuse me you have no right to yell at me and then you hang up the phone or walk off.

We create boundaries for ourselves to help protect our sense of self. We therefore need to be clear in our own mind what our boundaries are. It enables us to be clear about what we stand for or more appropriately won’t stand for. The only time we need to talk about our boundaries is when there has been a clear violation of our boundaries. We need to be clear about what boundary they have crossed and what we intend to do about it.

EG. I have asked you to stop texting during our meetings. If you continue to text in our meetings I will ask you to stop in front of the group which will be embarrassing for you.

Step one; you make the request,

Step two; you tell them the consequence,

Step three; you follow through with the consequence.

It’s not about trying to manipulate people, but is about sending out clear signals. A significant problem arises when we don’t follow through with our requests or consequences. Take our cell phone example. We tolerate the cell phone use for days and days and finally burst out that they have no respect. The person using the phone has no idea that they are violating a boundary or worse they know it but have seen it has never been enforced and others are doing it. When we set clear boundaries conflict very rarely rises. People know where they stand and you are consistent in your approach. Staff feel secure when people are consistent so it makes sense to establish you boundaries and follow through with consequences. Speak your truth early and set the scene. Use the power of the “Mention” early to help you establish your boundaries. “I’d like to mention that I don’t tolerate people texting during our staff meetings. Can you please be aware of this in future meetings?”

Ideas for this Blog Piece comes from ”Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to say No to take control of your life.” by Henry Cloud.

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