We talk about boundaries a lot in therapy. Many clients completely shy away from them because it feels like conflict or confrontation and others are maybe engaged in more rigid boundaries. Either way, not having flexible boundaries can sometimes really impact a friendship or relationship negatively. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
Have you ever been asked out to go do something with a friend? And you immediately, without even considering your response, shut that person down with no reason and it possibly comes off more aggressive than you wanted? Then, you do not hear from them for a while and you are unsure why because you care about that relationship? Well, it just might be due to that one “no” that may have unintentionally led the other person to believe that you did not like hanging out with them anymore, leading them to be scared to ask again. I’m an overthinker as are many, so getting shot down with no explanation definitely can lead to one not reaching out again.
Or maybe you’ve been in the opposite situation where you are invited to do something and you immediately say yes. When the event gets closer, you find yourself regretting saying yes and either back out at the last minute with an excuse that’s probably not true OR you go anyway but with some resentment. Hey, we’ve been there!
This is why there is this thing called:
Now, boundaries are not just confined to the physical definition of limitations to an area. They are also implemented in every relationship you have. You have personal boundaries that lead you to decide what you choose to be comfortable with or do in any situation.
One thing that everyone should know: Boundaries can be DIFFICULT to communicate successfully.
There are various times in one’s life where they may want to say “no” to a plan but are unsure of how to say this without coming off aggressive. We get this! Many of us are imperfect when it comes to effectively saying no and maintaining that relationship that is worth keeping. We love the phrase “progress, not perfection.”
We’ve thought of some easy suggestions that will hopefully allow you to successfully decline and explain without hurting or potentially losing that relationship.
- When asked for dinner: Instead of “No I can’t” answer with “Can I take a rain check?”
- When asked for help with something: Instead of “No I’m busy” answer with “I’m really working toward more work/life balance right now. Is there someone else you could ask to help?”
- When asked to do something you may not enjoy or want to do: Instead of “No I can’t” answer with “I’m not the best fit for that. Would you be open to me offering some other suggestions?”
All of these boundaries are fast and simple and will allow you to get a reason across without shutting the person down or not being truthful as well as plan for something else in the future in order to keep that relationship. Check out our free handout on the topic here or our Facebook Live here!