Know this sad truth: NO boundaries = little self esteem.
Your boundaries are your values. Boundaries are representative of how much or little you respect yourself. Boundaries are your friend.
While there are people who will respect your limits, there are others who will continually push or break the boundaries you set up. Before you can enforce boundaries in your business, make sure you have set boundaries in your own mind. Take some time to brainstorm what your boundaries are.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Who am I?
What do I value?
What am I comfortable with and what am I not comfortable with?
If you don’t set boundaries, you can damage relationships or worse you will devalue yourself, stress yourself out, and make yourself sick (LITERALLY). So how do you get good at boundaries?
#1 Set firm boundaries from the beginning.
As they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Once you establish what you are willing to put up with, it’s hard to backtrack. What’s important to you? Think about things like:
What are your work hours?
How do you want clients to contact you and when?
What happens if clients constantly show up late to meetings?
How do you manage when clients are unresponsive to requests?
You set the expectations. If you set unrealistic expectations, you will eventually disappoint the other person and drive yourself crazy in the process.
#2 Be crystal clear about your boundaries.
Don’t live in the in-between. Make sure that people understand what your boundaries are. Don’t be afraid to restate them as often as needed.
Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls. It is easy to fear the other person’s response when we set and enforce our boundaries. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a client or potential client; even if we “feel drained or taken advantage of.” We might wonder if we even deserve to have boundaries in the first place. You do! Remember,
If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll tolerate anything and be stepped on like a human doormat.
#3 Stick to your boundaries.
The hardest part of setting boundaries is sticking to them. Once you have clear boundaries in place, you need to make sure that you don’t waver from them…no matter what your client does. If you decide that you are not available past a certain time, make sure you are never available after that time. Of course there will be exceptions like emergencies, just not for the non-urgent things so give yourself permission to be okay with the boundaries you’ve set.
Without boundaries, you lose control of your time and energy.
#4 Decide the consequences ahead of time.
So what do we do if anyone pushes our boundaries (because they will)? Decide what the consequences are. For example, If a client calls repeatedly after hours when you are not available, do not answer the phone - even better, get a separate phone that is non-work related. The best way to figure out your own boundaries and consequences when people cross them is sitting quietly with yourself and creating some strategies on how you will respond differently next time. (Remember: boundaries are about honoring your needs, not about judging other people's choices.)
As a rule of thumb: if you say no once and the person asks again—it’s disrespectful. If the question is asked more than three times—it’s manipulation. That’s your cue to take action immediately.
Your challenge should you choose to accept:
#5 Take responsibility for yourself. This means to become aware, to develop the capacity for active conscious involvement, to know what needs to be done for yourself. By setting your own boundaries, you’re telling others how you want and expect to be treated; in other words, you are setting your limits about who can come into your space and what you expect of others once they’re there--- how you want to be spoken to, touched, and treated psychologically and emotionally. Whatever you say goes, no matter what others may think, feel, or believe. A corollary of this is that you are not responsible for the feelings, actions, and beliefs of others, or for the way they react to the boundaries you’ve set.
Struggling with setting boundaries, head over to the podcast, subscribe, download and listen to this podcast episode with Nicole Ware as she shares some great gems about her experience setting boundaries, choosing who to work with, and how to cultivate a business she loves.