My dear mate Arnna from Evoke Kinesiology and I often have chats about boundaries for ourselves personally and professionally - so I thought I might share some of those insights with you on how to set good boundaries for yourselves in business.
Here's 5 ways to set healthy boundaries, without feeling like a bitch/bastard:
- Remember that 'NO' is a full sentence. Often, 'NO' is the most honest thing you can say to someone, which is more respectful than just making up all the reasons in the world for saying 'No'. You don't need to go into full justification mode when you don't want to do something in business. This could be saying no to a job, telling a staff member they can't take a day off tomorrow with no notice, not going to the cousins, friends aunties birthday party - saying 'no' is a full sentence. If you really must follow it up with something - say 'I have to say no because that will prevent me from achieving some things that are important to me right now' - and leave it at that.
- Know what your boundaries are and verbalise/document them. We like to call these 'Rules of the Game' in business. Clients should know how they can expect to work with you, they should know that it's months or more to get into your schedule if they want you to do the work - truth telling about the situation your business is in is the best way to set a boundary. Keep strong in what you can and can't deliver and your life will be much more peaceful and calm, rather than riddled with meeting the expectations of people you didn't want to meet them for in the first instance. Rules of the Game are also amazing to set for your staff, to prevent any assumptions being made about what they can and can't do - we should never assume people know what you want from them - run a session on this with your team if you have dramas with staff. If you don't know how - speak to one of our coaching team to find out how we can help you to run it.
- On the case of expectations in business - think about whose expectations you strive to meet the most in life. Are you making good choices? Have you got your priorities in order? Just think on that....I don't think I will need to say much more there. Ouch.
- 'What's right for me is right for everyone else' - you know the times you agreed to do something/be somewhere and really you didn't want to? What was your attitude like towards it? Did you go to the job/event/do the thing with vigour and vitality? Or did you drag your feet like a sulky mess? If you choose to do things because 'I feel like I should' - you will end up just obviously showing people how little you want to be there, or the job will totally not get all it deserves. Because your heart won't be in it. And your family/friend/client will end up suffering, and so will you. Nobody wins! So - always choose what is right for you first. So important.
- Be direct without waffling when you express a boundary. Using softeners like 'I really want to do that job but I don't know if.....blah blah blah' sends totally mixed messages. It gives people a false sense that there may be a chance that you will 'back down' on what you are saying. Just tell it straight and offer a solution for them - 'my business is not taking on projects like yours, but consider xyz trade instead'. Everyone we work with who is direct and open and honest about what they can't do or don't want to do ALWAYS yields the best responses. The feedback from clients and staff is always positive because they know exactly where they stand, without all the P&W.
If you deliver your boundaries in a kind but direct manner - you really cannot go wrong. This can take practice, but the more you flex your boundary setting muscle, the better you will get at it.
What boundary will you set today to practice?