Drawing the line with boundaries

Do you find yourself saying yes when you want to be saying no? What is stopping you from saying no? Do you need to define or clarify your boundaries?

Your boundaries are your filter for ideas and communication

Business growth is dependent on innovation and change. This requires you to take brave steps into the unknown. Do you do this with or without boundaries? Do you think of boundaries as walls that are built for control, protection and safety or do they set the tone for what is expected with room to explore new possibilities? Are boundaries preventing you from discovering new opportunities or are they a filter that allow you to show who you are, what you are about and what you will and will not tolerate.

Why is it difficult to operate with boundaries?

There are six main reasons why you may not work within boundaries or have very blurry lines around your limits.

1. Fear of rejection – Are you concerned that you might loose a client or generate a negative negative opinion of your business?

2. Fear of confrontation – Do you avoid a situation where saying something might provoke a negative response?

3. Guilt – Are you worried you might let someone down or disappoint them?

4. Lack of knowledge -Do you lack adequate awareness and experience required to deal with a situation?

5. Consideration of consequences – Do you jump into a situation with little or no consideration of what the result could be?

6. Rationalisation – Do you use feeble but seemingly plausible arguments to either justify something that is difficult to accept or to make it not seems so bad?

Much of doing business includes conquering your fears, being strong and trusting your gut instinct. It is hard to speak up and say what you want or don’t want or what doesn’t work for you. It seems easier to just agree rather than offend or upset people. We also have an astonishing capacity to deceive ourselves and rationalise a situation.

Your boundaries align with your values to provide structure from which you pursue your goals

Boundaries are the guidelines you create to identify for yourself what are the reasonable and safe ways for other people to behave towards you and how you will respond when someone crosses a line. Boundaries also define the way you consider the exploration of new ideas and information. When you are confident with the position you take on issues, it is harder to be swayed by something that blows in your direction or passively accept what is available. They are the backbone to the choices you need to make many times a day including how much time to spend on a phone call, how to respond to an deadline request, whether to learn about how to master some new technology, when to finish work for the day, how quickly you respond to an email, whether you can solve a creative challenge.

How do you define your boundaries?

Be authentic

Who are you and what drives you? The best way to be authentic is to know your core values and goals so they are at the heart of every aspect of your business. Are you willing to trade your time and happiness for money? This is a choice you make based on your boundaries. The important thing to remember is that it is your choice. You can chose to say no, to avoid the situation entirely to steer yourself in another direction. Boundaries are about staying true to who you are and what you do.

Be consistent

Be consistent in all that you do and say. Giving mixed messages leads to mistrust and uncertainty about clear boundaries. Your fundamental message, style and identity should remain the same to ensure you convey your business as strong, self-assured and trustworthy.

Be honest

Integrity is having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. This includes standing up for what you believe in and taking responsibility when something goes wrong. Clear communication of your boundaries is showing respect for your customers, your business and yourself.

Boundaries are a filtering system that can only work if you take action and be proactive in standing up for what is critical for the success of your business. Success can be greatly effected by your ability to set good boundaries.

How do you move forward?

It is all in your mind

Operating with boundaries may require a mind shift from being accommodating and compliant. Your number one priority should be to stand up for yourself and create an environment where you feel empowered and capable.


What is important to you? Decide how you need physical and emotional space. Be very clear on your values, who you are and how you want to operate.

Consistently communicate

Communicating your boundaries can be difficult but if you have made a decision to operate with particular boundaries, be strong and don’t avoid difficult situations.


Continue to reinforce your boundaries. Create a plan for times when someone crosses the line. Remember that sometimes reacting immediately is not always wise and creating an opportunity to reply at a later time may allow you time to think and respond more effectively.

Having clear boundaries can be empowering. They create a framework for all things you do by providing a structure for the way you work and the way you make choices. The clearer you are with your boundaries, the easier it is for you to operate from a position of power, clarity and integrity.

What do you do to set boundaries around your work?


Caroline Siassios

About Caroline Siassios

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