Week 3: Respecting Others Boundaries
This week we’re taking what we learnt last month from our intention of Perspective to practice boundaries in a new way. Instead of focusing on your boundaries and limits, let’s take a look at understanding and respecting others boundaries. There will be times when you completely understand another person's boundary, whereas other times you may not right away. And that’s okay! But with understanding and practicing perspective, we are able to hear others clearly when they state their boundaries and we can even support their boundaries, even if we don’t have the same ones.
When asking a coworker to join you for lunch or a coffee run and they say no, how do you respond? Some of us may shrug and say ‘no worries’, others may frown and say ‘no but I want you to come too’ or we may even say ‘oh but why can’t you? Or why won't you?’ How would you respond - what is your initial reaction? There is no right or wrong answer here and so much of how we respond is from how we’ve been taught within society and culture. For some people saying no takes courage and how we respond can either build them up or make them feel even worse. By implementing perspective we can put ourselves in their shoes and respond accordingly without pushing their boundaries.
A first great step in respecting another person's boundaries is to not question their response. Though it may feel natural or you may even be curious as to why they said no, it’s best to listen and acknowledge the boundary they are drawing. If you’re anything like me, my curiosity often gets the best of me and I question even though I’m not trying to change their decision or response. The way I’ve altered my curious response is to ask if I can inquire more - again giving the other person the opportunity to state their boundary and to feel heard. I normally only do this with friends and family as we are closer and they know my curiosity comes from a good place. Outside of more personal situations, it’s best to clearly acknowledge the boundary and leave it at that. Doing so will build trust and respect between you and the other person, which in turn may lead them to share more with you so you can better understand their boundaries and respect them even more moving forward.
This week, take time to reflect on when you’ve had others draw a boundary and how you responded. Were you quick to question them and the boundary? Did you take their first response and leave it alone? How would you like to respond in a conversation when someone is clearly stating their boundary? Similar to last week practice responses you can implement and write them out. Bonus points to talk to friends and family and ask them how they would like you to respond to their boundaries.