Setting firm boundaries is a powerful tool for protecting your well-being and maintaining your sanity

Faith Wood knows how to resolve conflict. Her years in front-line law enforcement taught her how to effectively de-escalate any situation to a successful conclusion. Faith uses her knowledge of conflict management to guide you through the often stressful experiences you may encounter in your personal or professional life.

Faith Wood

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re constantly dealing with someone who pushes your buttons and tests your patience?

You’ve tried various techniques to maintain civility and cope with their bad behaviour, but nothing seems to change. You’re left feeling exhausted and drained, wondering what to do next.

In such situations, setting firm boundaries can be a powerful tool for protecting your well-being and maintaining your sanity. Let me share a story that illustrates the importance of setting healthy boundaries and some recommendations on how to do it effectively.

Meet Emily, a hardworking professional who takes pride in her work and strives to maintain a positive and respectful work environment. However, she has a colleague named Mike who constantly undermines her, interrupts her during meetings, and tries to take credit for her work. Emily has tried to ignore Mike’s behaviour, practiced various techniques to stay calm, and even talked to him about it. Still, Mike’s behaviour persists, leaving Emily feeling frustrated and drained.

Related Stories
How to communicate when the heat is on

Can you fix a toxic friendship?

How to let go of disappointment and avoid conflict

Need help?
Contact Faith

One day, during a team meeting, Mike repeatedly interrupted Emily and tried to belittle her in front of their colleagues. Emily decided enough was enough. She took a deep breath, gathered her courage, and set a firm boundary by speaking up assertively. She calmly told Mike that interrupting her during meetings and undermining her work was unacceptable and that she expected to be treated with respect. She then redirected the conversation back to the agenda of the meeting, firmly but respectfully asserting her boundaries.

At first, Mike was taken aback by Emily’s assertiveness, but he realized that Emily was unwilling to tolerate his behaviour any longer. Over time, he changed his behaviour, and Emily’s work environment improved significantly. Emily now feels empowered and relieved, knowing she has taken control of the situation by setting firm boundaries.

Based on Emily’s story, here are some recommendations on how to effectively set firm boundaries in challenging situations:

  1. Identify Your Boundaries: Reflect on what behaviours are unacceptable to you and what limits you want to set. Be clear about what you will not tolerate and what you expect from others.
  2. Communicate Clearly: Use assertive and “I” statements to express your boundaries. Communicate your limits and expectations clearly, calmly and respectfully. Avoid being passive or aggressive.
  3. Be Consistent: Enforce your boundaries by following through with consequences when they are crossed. This may involve calmly reinforcing your boundaries, removing yourself from the situation, or taking appropriate actions to protect your boundaries.
  4. Avoid Apologizing or Justifying: You do not need to apologize or justify your boundaries. Be firm but respectful in asserting your boundaries without feeling guilty or needing to explain yourself.
  5. Practice Self-Care: Setting and enforcing boundaries can be emotionally draining. Prioritize self-care by taking care of your emotional well-being and practicing self-compassion. It’s okay to prioritize your own needs and well-being.
  6. Seek Support: Having a support system in place can be helpful. Seek support from trusted friends, family members, or a therapist who can provide you with encouragement, guidance, and perspective as you work on setting firm boundaries.

Setting firm boundaries can be a powerful tool for maintaining your well-being and dealing with challenging situations. Like Emily’s story, it may require courage and assertiveness, but protecting yourself and maintaining your sanity is essential. By identifying your boundaries, communicating them clearly, being consistent, and practicing self-care, you can empower yourself and create a more positive and respectful environment.

Remember, you have the right to assert your boundaries and prioritize your own well-being.

Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.

For interview requests, click here.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

© Troy Media
Troy Media is an editorial content provider to media outlets and its own hosted community news outlets across Canada.