Strategies for Setting Healthy Boundaries in Relationships
No. It is such a simple word, but yet so many people have a difficult time saying it. The term “no” also holds a multitude of power. When told to loved ones, friends, or people in the workplace, it can be met with confusion and anger. Placing boundaries upon people not only displays assertiveness, but it can be constructive when building relationships, and most importantly, can help lower your stress levels.
Mental health counselor Dr. Tracy Hutchinson states, “Boundaries are basic guidelines that people create to establish how others are able to behave around them.” Hutchinson also adds that boundaries help people feel safe, respected, and validated.
Let’s explore some Life Coaching strategies on how you can place boundaries upon others while still preserving your relationships and leaving the conversation mentally sound.
Identify Your Limits
One key indicator of a limitation can be how you feel. If you feel uncomfortable or annoyed, then you may have reached your limit. The body is a great communicator. When a person feels pressured or pushed to the limit, they may experience signs of stress, such as their shoulders tensing up, their breathing could become shallow, or their jaw clenching. One of the main fears of the “D” personality style in the DISC model is being taken advantage of. Those who have taken the DISC assessment and identify as the “D” style respond well when they are in control, but if they feel as though their control is being compromised or trust is broken, they can become argumentative or aggressive. There are measures you can take to say “no” while still maintaining peace. “I” statements can be a tool when expressing what your limitations are to another person. For example, you can use phrases like “I am uncomfortable,” “I prefer…,” or “I find it important.”
Begin With A Disclaimer (optional)
Some believe that setting boundaries can create conflict. Although this can be true at times, it does not mean that they should refrain from setting those boundaries. When a person’s boundaries have been crossed or violated, it can negatively affect someone’s mental health, self-worth, and resentment towards another may progress. Some DISC personality types may feel uncomfortable with speaking up. For example, “I” styles love being liked and fear rejection. They will refrain from going against the grain to win favor with others. “S” and “C” types tend to avoid conflict as the “S” style fears instability and the “C” fears criticism. If you are fearful of speaking up to set boundaries, there are several ways in which you can approach this situation. Before placing boundaries on a person, ask yourself, “What is the purpose of me bringing this issue to the forefront?” Is it to better the relationship you have with your spouse? Is it to finally get the necessary rest you need by not working so many hours? When you identify that purpose, you can use that objective as a disclaimer. For instance, if it is to move your relationship forward in a positive direction, you could start with, “I want our relationship to be better. It is important to me that I set boundaries for us to build a healthy partnership.”
Be Firm When Communicating Your Expectations
Being assertive is not the same as being aggressive or rude. Aggressiveness can invite conflict and is unproductive. When a person is genuinely assertive when expressing their needs and limitations, they are polite, direct, and at times insist that the conversation be open for discussion. “S” DISC personality styles are very loyal and might tend to stay in unhealthy relationships longer than other DISC types. “S” behavioral styles do not do well with change, whether in a schedule or a relationship. Disrupting the status quo is not an action they feel comfortable with. They do not want to jeopardize a relationship, especially if they have had a friend or partner for many years. How can you be firm with a person and still maintain the integrity of the relationship? Be kind, state the purpose of the conversation, then its importance, and if you feel comfortable enough, you may work together to meet in the middle.
Understand That Most Will Not Respect Your Boundaries
It is an unfortunate reality, but you will not be met with kindness or empathy when you set boundaries upon a person all of the time. You must understand, though, that your needs and wants are just as important as the person you are speaking with. Why can they have control instead of you? Why not share it? By establishing your boundaries on a person, some may become angered or annoyed. Christian psychologists Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend wrote, “The first thing you need to learn is that the person who is angry at you for setting boundaries is the one with the problem...Maintaining your boundaries is good for other people; it will help them learn what their families of origin did not teach them: to respect other people.” Those who respect you, care for you, those who don’t only care for themselves. The saying goes “you have a right to protect your peace” especially from those who compromise it.
PeopleKeys understands that it’s challenging to have these types of conversations, but communication is key to building healthy, trusting relationships. These are just some strategies a Life Coach can help you navigate in setting boundaries. If you have a propensity for helping others, consider becoming a PeopleKeys Certified Behavioral Life Coach to gain the knowledge and tools to help others learn how to have these uncomfortable conversations. By understanding you and your clients’ DISC profiles, you will better comprehend how to help yourself and others set boundaries.