It is often difficult to maintain the boundaries of our lives. We over- promise, over-commit, and say, “Yes” far too often, and then we are left chastising ourselves for not being stronger. For not standing tough in the face of one more boundary being knocked aside and crossed.
Most of the boundaries of our daily lives seem like such simple things, we think that everyone functions by the same set of rules. We take it for granted that no one is going to punch us in the nose if we disagree with them at a meeting. And, they are pretty safe that we won’t hit them either.
Some things are not so commonly adhered to. Things like yelling at people, or demeaning them privately, and/or, publicly.
I have, in my life, someone who demeans everyone. At first we thought they were innocent jokes, but then, it started to feel more and more personal. This is a boundary most of us want to keep intact. We talk here often about self-esteem, and for some of us, how difficult that is to maintain sometimes. But, what we do not need is to have others continually chipping away at something we are so preciously building up.
The same applies to yelling. It is similar to the last example, but only louder. I have had a few clients and patients who have tested the limits of patience and customer service by screaming at almost everyone in their path.
These examples, and many more, test the boundaries that we try to maintain, the safety that we expect in our everyday lives.
The good news is that they can both be shut down the same way. You need a system. And, I will share the one I use.
You know, because you tire of these intrusions and insults.
T: Tell them that they are doing whatever it is. “You are yelling at me.” If they continue move to step 2.
I: Inquire. Make it a request. ” I ask that you stop yelling.” If it still continues, move to step 3.
R: Remind them. ” You are still yelling at me.” Then on to the final step if they don’t get it.
E: Exit. Leave their presence
How did these methods affect my relationships in the 2 examples?
In the first, the demeanor, I spend very little time with them, because they never “got it.”
In the second, I terminated our relationships, and offered to refer them on. Since they had exhausted all of the steps, there was little room for going back and starting over. In addition to expecting that the clients respect me, I also expect that they respect my staff. Usually their tirades were directed at everyone except me. This did not make their behavior any more acceptable, sadly.
The most important and precious commitments we can make are to ourselves and to our core values. Living the lives we desire requires that we set boundaries about what is tolerable in our lives and what is not. And, keep them!
Join the conversation:
How do you secure your boundaries? What steps do you take?