Hi lovely ones. Welcome to episode number 34. This week I’m talking about boundaries because you know, it’s one of my favourite topics. But specifically this week I want to talk about boundary creep, boundary errors and boundary violations in business.
If you struggle with boundaries in your work or business or anywhere in your life, really, and you notice that more often than not, other people seem to walk all over your boundaries or try to tell you what your boundaries should be, then this episode is a must-listen for you.
But before we dive in, I’d love to shout out ordinary magic who left a review after listening to the podcast. Ordinary magic said:
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A student in one of my programs, asked a brilliant question this week just gone about boundaries. To protect confidentiality. I’ll call the person who asked the question, Alana.
Now Alana sees clients in her business on a one on one basis. And COVID meant that the office that she had set up to see clients was something that she had to let go of.
And she started seeing clients exclusively on zoom. A lot, I had a client who she had previously seen face to face, who didn’t particularly like zoom sessions. And who would asked her if she could see a lot of face to face again, perhaps at the client’s home.
Now, Alanna approached me about this because she knew it was crossing a boundary. And that particular boundary was one that Ilana had come to really value that is seeing clients on zoom was far more sustainable for for her energy.
And as every client was now seen on zoom, Alana felt that it was equitable. “This is one of the good things about COVID.” Alana told me.
She actually discovered that she had a far greater preference for seeing clients on zoom, because it just felt more comfortable for her energy distribution. But the hard part about these requests from this particular client was that she had a long term relationship with this client.
She liked the client, and she really enjoyed working with her. So the thing is, a lot of could say the client at home, but she had already enacted a blanket rule that all clients and now seen on zoom for obviously COVID safe reasons, and also sustainable reasons in terms of Alana’s energy.
So Alana was finding it hard to wrap her head around reasserting this boundary with her client, because she didn’t want to upset the client. Isn’t that the case. So we so often make decisions about our boundaries, because we don’t want to upset other people.
And Alanna also felt uncomfortable to sit firmly in a boundary that was about conserving her own energy.
Now, if you’re listening to this, and you’re also in business, and betting this has come up for you some way or another, as well, perhaps a client or a customer that you like, once you make an exception for them, or adjust a boundary slightly so that it impacts upon them less, or treat them as different or special, even.
And perhaps that there’s a part of you that wants to do exactly that. Because you value your clients and customers, especially the ones that are easy to work with and likeable.
You probably also know from experience that allowing your boundaries to be crossed causes even more issues.
It puts you in a position where you’re allowing other people to decide what is important to you, and where your boundaries should be placed which is a position of disempowerment.
Now I want to take you through some reminders I gave to Alana that I hope will be helpful for you too.
The first reminder is:
That just because you can doesn’t mean you should or that you have to.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you to do.
In this case, if Alana agreed to seeing this client at home, she’s then violating her own business values of treating all clients equally.
She’s also compromising her own energy by providing a home service, which doesn’t fit with the choices she’s made for personal sustainability.
The second reminder is:
To be aware of boundary creep.
Now the client in question knows it’s possible that Alana could visit her at home because they live in the same town.
She also really likes Alanna knows full well how committed Ilana is to her clients, and has long valued the positive changes in her life.
Thanks to her work with Alana, they have a strong relationship.
Cue boundary Creek. Now boundary creep is when someone tests the limits of a boundary using their relationship with you as grounds to sneak across the line in ways that seem perfectly acceptable to the naked eye.
It might sound like this,
- Can you do this just once?
- Or can you do it just for me? Because it would be really helpful for me.
- Or I know you understand how important this is to me.
- No one else would get it, so can you do this just for me?
- Or I know you’re someone who I can rely on you’ve never let me down before.
- So can you do this for me, please?
Now, just because an attempt is made to cross the line in a way that might seem nice, perhaps even complimentary.
That doesn’t mean that you should or that you have to remove the boundary. But it can make it harder to remember why the boundary is there in the first place, though.
I want you to remember not to lose sight of the boundaries job in the first place and keep an eye out for boundary creep.
So in this case, with Alana’s client, the boundaries job, the boundary of seeing clients on zoom is to provide a practical solution to COVID issues.
And also, now that Alana has discovered this, it’s about making sure that her energy for long term client work is sustainable and distributed in a way that makes her feel like she’s not at risk of burning out.
That’s the boundaries job. So Alana needs to watch out that there’s not a situation in this particular boundary scenario where the client is trying to creep across the line, because they have a strong relationship with one another.
Boundary reminded number three:
I want to talk about areas versus violations.
Now, you probably already know this, boundaries are not a perfect science for the person setting them or the person receiving them.
Keep this in mind. And while you keep this in mind, I want to look at the difference between a boundary error and what we might call an orange flag and a boundary violation or what we might call a red flag.
A boundary error is when someone accidentally crosses your boundaries because they are unaware the boundaries are there, they are rarely repeated, because the crossing wasn’t intentional in the first place.
In this case, you communicate the boundary offer grace to the person who crossed it and checks that the boundary is respected next time.
For example, you might have a customer who is late paying their account. It turns out that they thought you had 30-day terms when you actually have 14-day terms.
You reiterate the boundary and hopefully they pay on time. And you take this as a good prompt, I hope to communicate important boundaries like payment terms at the outset of your working relationship with someone.
Sometimes we only work out these system issues when boundaries get crossed. On the other hand, a boundary violation is when someone intentionally crosses a boundary, even when they know a limit exists.
Violations can be repeated, especially if you let them slide the first time they happen or more times after that.
In this case, your task is to raise At the boundary, enforce consequences for crossing it and make sure your emotional and physical safety is restored, especially if this happens in your personal life rather than in a business setting.
Now, the client attempting to cross Alana’s boundary very likely knows she’s crossing it, because Alana has scheduled zoom sessions before now with her.
That makes it a boundary violation. But like any boundary issue, it’s up to Atlanta to defend and reassert the boundary, because others who stand to benefit from the boundary being dropped or adjusted for them, are not likely to turn around and say My bad. “Let me just step back behind that line.”
Now, there are different degrees of boundary violations and asking for a face to face session is different to physically assaulting someone, obviously.
But the key should be mindful of here is does the person know there is a boundary there, and are they crossing it with intention, they could simply be trying their luck, no problem, just let them know that it’s not their lucky day.
Or they could be indicating to you that this is the beginning of a pattern of behaviour that is not healthy for your interactions with them.
I want you to be mindful of boundary areas versus boundary violations. areas are acceptable violations and not.
Boundary reminder number four:
I want you to stay strong in your choices. You always have the choice to adjust a boundary as you see fit.
But please ensure that you’re doing so from a place of clarity and empowerment, not a place of people pleasing, approval seeking, being forced or feeling desperate.
Finally, boundary reminded number five:
That doesn’t mean that it will be easy.
Communicating and resetting boundaries can feel difficult, especially if the person you’re dealing with has a tendency to advocate aggressively to get their own way.
And as you’re working on building your confidence, I want you to make sure that you are supported, make sure that there’s people around you that have got your back, I want you to remember your worth.
I want you to remind yourself that I know now is so much easier than a year later on, that rolls around that you really don’t want to do.
And for those of you that want to explore boundaries more deeply. Then I want to remind you that my next book is on just this topic, a whole book on boundaries, and it will be released in July 2021.
I promise you’ll know about it because my publisher be very clear that I need to scrape it from the rooftops but that is coming your way in just a few months.
In the meantime, I have a stack of resources that you might like to check out for free at Rebecca ray.com.au?free. I hope this episode has been valuable for you and I can’t wait to catch you in the next episode next week.
Lovely ones thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray. If you’ve got something meaningful from this episode, and the most meaningful thing you can do is jump on over to wherever you listen to your podcast episodes and leave a review.
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