Start setting simple but firm boundaries with a graceful or neutral tone. This will feel uncomfortable at first but, as you take care of yourself, the personal power you gain will make it easier.
- Be sure to have support in place before and after each conversation.
- Vent any strong emotions with your partner before having your boundary conversation.
- Use simple, direct language. Here are some examples:
To set a boundary with an angry person:
“You may not yell at me. If you continue, I’ll have to leave the room.”
To set a boundary with personal phone calls at work:
"I've decided to take all personal calls in the evening in order to get my work done. I will need to call you later."
To say no to extra commitments:
"Although this organization is important to me, I need to decline your request for volunteer help in order to honor my family's needs."
To set a boundary with someone who is critical:
"It's not okay with me that you comment on my weight. I'd like to ask you to stop."
To buy yourself time when making tough decisions:
"I'll have to sleep on it; I have a policy of not making decisions right away."
"I want you to know that I won't be making a decision today. I'd like to gather additional information."
To back out of a commitment:
"I know I agreed to head up our fundraising efforts, but after reviewing my schedule, I now realize that I won't be able to give it my best attention. I'll need to bow out. I'd like to help find a replacement by the end of next week.”
- When setting boundaries, there is no need to defend, debate, or over-explain your feelings. Be firm, gracious, and direct. When faced with resistance, repeat your statement or request.
- Back up your boundary with action. Stay strong. If you give in, you invite people to ignore your needs.