We often rely on other people to self-screen in our relationships – to not ask too much of us, to know when “a quick question” turns into “I clearly need to hire you”. But when others breach your boundaries, sometimes you have to be the one to speak up.
Why is that important for business?
Sometimes setting boundaries on your expertise is a concrete or even legal issue – you can deflect blame to your lawyer, your association rules, or even company policy for why you can’t do something. But what do you do when something is just a personal boundary, or it just doesn’t feel right?
Your ability to define and hold your own boundaries is one of the most important skills you can master in business. Exerting boundaries not only benefits you, but it also helps build trust in the relationship. If you make it clear that people can ask of you what they need and trust you to maintain your own boundaries, you can trust the same, and everyone saves a lot of time. Every time you set out healthy boundaries, you plant the seeds in that relationship for it to be okay to take care of your own needs, and show that person it is okay for them to do that in the world as well.
And if you find yourself struggling with building that muscle, sometimes, a little white lie might be your gateway drug. You get to see that when you set a boundary, even if it isn’t completely true, the world doesn’t come off its axis. It can help you develop a taste for saying no; it can help you build that muscle.
If you really are making a stand to not damage a relationship, you must also take your needs into account. You are also part of the relationship, and as much as you want to protect the other person, you must also protect yourself. When you make decisions solely based on the impact on the other person, you are not honouring the relationship and risk damaging it.
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