How to Set Boundaries | 120 Seconds to Better Leadership

Do You Have a Hard Time Setting Boundaries?

Today we’re thinking about boundaries. What I know from coaching people for the past twenty years, is that certain types of people struggle with setting boundaries with others. Those types of people tend to be kind, compassionate, and sensitive. Sometimes they can be a little codependent. And so, if you fall in those categories I want to give you just two tips to make setting boundaries easier and not feel so icky.

Make Expectations Clear Upfront

One way is to make expectations as clear as possible when you’re entering in a relationship with someone. So, if the relationship was professional, and you’re setting professional expectations for that person, the more clearly you can identify what good looks like, what success looks like, what kind of timelines you expect, then the room for squishing in deliverables kind of goes away. And it makes it easier to say, “you know we actually agreed on the 24th for this, and it’s the 26th so we need to have a conversation about that.”

But because it was black and white in the beginning and not squishy, we feel more justified in setting that boundary and having that conversation. Get clear upfront.

Don’t Be Afraid to Counter-Offer 

The second tactic is counter-offer. Often, we’re asked to do things, and sometimes we don’t want to do them. And, if you’re the kind of person that has a hard time saying no (number one: work on that. You have to be able to say no). But sometimes it’s not a no. Sometimes the request is “hey I need four hours of work put into this project; can you help me?” And the answer might be no because you don’t have four hours, but the answer might also be, “I can’t give you four hours, but I can give you two, would that be helpful?”

Then that person has a chance to get what they can get from you without killing yourself to give them the four that you don’t actually have.  

So, get clear in expectations upfront with everyone in your life, and don’t be afraid to counter-offer. If you can’t give a yes, and you don’t quite want to give a no, counter-offer and see what happens.