How to Set Boundaries With Healthy Communication
Updated: Apr 2
Boundaries are important in any healthy relationship whether it's with a co-worker, boss, romantic partner, friend, or family member. Even if you've never thought much about boundaries, you probably know the feeling when someone crosses one; when you feel taken advantage of or pushed to your breaking point.
When learning how to set boundaries, the first step is to identify your list of non-negotiables — personal rules or limits you are not willing to compromise on (e.g. not accepting a loved one talking down to you or not answering work emails when you're off the clock).
Today, we'll explore what happens when you have no boundaries and learn how to set them with healthy communication.
What Happens When Boundaries Are Crossed?
You have options when it comes to handling a boundary being crossed.
Getting catcalled in the street is an example of a boundary violation. There is no right or wrong way to address the situation — you could ignore it or confront the person or deflect it with humor. You can and should find a method that serves you best.
It gets a bit more complicated when the individual crossing a boundary is someone you interact with in everyday life, like a co-worker or a family member. The fact is, if you continue to let your boundaries be ignored — or if you don't set any at all — it will take a mental and emotional toll on you.
Healthy Communication Helps Set Boundaries
Many people, especially women, struggle with setting boundaries. You should never feel guilty for protecting your own physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Here are some tips for setting boundaries using healthy communication:
Use words in the manner that they are intended for: When walking past someone, instead of saying “sorry”, say “excuse me”. Save apologies for when you have done something wrong. Squeezing past someone in the break room isn't wrong.
Stand your ground: Once you've set a boundary, stick to it. If you've turned down an opportunity because you have too much on your plate, don't waver just because you think it will please someone else. "That sounds great, but it’s not something I can commit to right now."
It's okay to take time for yourself: If a conversation gets heated, it's okay to press pause and give yourself time to process. "I hear what you are saying, but I need to take a break from this conversation right now”
It's okay to demand respect: If someone begins to raise their voice or speak to you in a demanding way, the conversation is no longer productive. "I understand that you are upset but if there is more yelling, I will need to take some space."
Go From No Boundaries to Pro Boundaries
Once you've identified your non-negotiables, you'll start to notice how and when they aren't being honored. Ask yourself honestly, 'Is this the first time this person has done this? Or is this a pattern?' If it's a pattern, ask yourself why you allowed this individual to get away with their behavior. Taking responsibility for having no boundaries in the past will allow you to be more prepared to maintain them moving forward.
Having healthy communication with the people in your life will benefit both them and you. Even though it can be challenging to set new boundaries in old relationships, it's not impossible. Start small (e.g. "If you raise your voice at me, I will need to take a break from the conversation") and work your way up to bigger shifts (e.g. "I need more space and time to myself in general").
Boundaries are important in any healthy relationship, be it personal or professional. They're also an act of self-love as they allow you to show up for yourself more fully and live more aligned with your values.
Looking for more guidance with healthy communication? Consider scheduling a compliment breakthrough call with me today. We'll identify the areas of your life where you need to set firmer boundaries and devise a plan to get you there.