But what happens when being nice turns into being taken advantage of?
Maybe you think, “I shouldn’t be so nice.”
Don’t go there.
Caring about others is amazing. I wouldn’t want to image a world where people didn’t do nice things for one another--where people didn’t help out their family, friends, and even strangers. It isn’t a world that I would want to live in. You probably wouldn't want to either.
But sometimes we need to put boundaries on our nice-ness. We need to say I am willing and able to be nice up to this point. I can give this much of myself, my time, and my money and that is all.
We have our own needs to fulfill too, you know.
One of the best ways to support and respect ourselves is to set boundaries with the people around us.
Personal boundaries are invisible lines we create to protect ourselves from unhealthy relationships and situations.
Because boundaries are invisible, once we establish them, we must communicate them to those around us and stand by the boundaries that we set.
There are three main steps to setting boundaries with others.
STEP ONE: Identify the behaviors of others that are not acceptable
What drives you crazy? What makes you frustrated? What totally annoys you?
Some examples might be:
· Others may not hit me (seems pretty obvious)
· Others may not yell at me
· Others may not disrespect my friendship
· Others may not gossip in front of me about my other friends or family
· Others may not show up late on a regular basis
And don't allow yourself to think your boundaries are silly or ridiculous.
What you want is what you want. Period.
STEP TWO: Communicate your boundaries to others
People will not know what your boundaries are unless you tell them. If you don’t like it when your friend shows up late to lunch, but she continues to do it, you need to make a request of her (and possibly more than once). People will respect you more and take you more seriously if you assert yourself with kindness and grace.
STEP THREE: Enforce your Boundaries
This is by far the hardest part, but you will respect yourself more if you follow through.
1) Let them know by pointing out the behavior that isn’t okay with you. “Did you know that every week you arrive at least 20 minutes late to our appointment?”
2) Make a request. “Would you be willing to show up on time for our next appointment?”
3) Give a warning for your consequence. Let the other person know what will happen if they continue with the behavior. “If you keep showing up late for our appointments, I am going to have to stop seeing you.”
4) Follow Through. This is the crucial step. You have to follow through with the consequence that you set, even if they disregard it. “Showing up late every coaching session is not acceptable to me, so I can’t continue to have you as a client. I hope that you can find a new coach.”
5) Let go of the story. Just because they didn’t respond to the request, doesn’t mean it has to do with you. Don’t make it personal and don’t make it mean something that it doesn’t.
Sometimes being bold means setting boundaries.