So, we all have to deal with other people in a variety of ways. It is a fact of life and business. We want to be loving and generous, but we also really want people to respect our time and energy. Plenty of people have great boundaries and will be appropriate with you at every turn. But there are plenty more people who will ask you for really inappropriate amounts of your time, energy, money or stuff, leaving you confounded, frustrated and emotional. This is a terrible state of affairs for you business, your health, and the health of your business.
So, what do you do? It’s always uncomfortable to have to school people on how to be respectful. But unless you want to be a mess of seething rage, it’s really important to be super clear about where you end and others begin.
Recently I was talking this through with a client and I came up with a pickle scenario to illustrate this, and I decided that it was just too good (or at least too insane) not to share with you.
Honestly, I don’t ever really know if you will find me as charmingly eccentric as I find me, but either way, here you go.
It is the last pickle from the pickle jar and it is outstanding. It is the best pickle you have ever eaten and you wish there were ten of them, but there is just this one and it is your favorite.
Your friend comes up to you and says, “Hey. That pickle looks really tasty. Can I have the rest of it?”
I know. It’s weird for someone to want the pickle right out of your mouth, right? But WHAT IF, you guys?
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Do you feel obligated to share your pickle?
Aw man, I guess I have to give up the pickle because here I am hogging up the very last one like a selfish beast. Nice people share. I know this because I totally learned it in kindergarten and if I don’t share this pickle even though it is the love of my life, my friend might hate me. So…
“I guess. Sure. Here you go.”
You hand over the pickle with a faux smile and feel fairly good about your martyrdom, at least until the seething rage sets in. You watch the pickle juice run down the ecstatic chin of your friend and think that would be a great place to put your fist. Smile.
Your friend asks you if they can have the rest of your pickle and you have had just about enough of everybody trying to take food right out of your goddamned mouth and you say, “HELL NO. GET OFF MY PICKLE, YO.”
Ok, so you might not say that exact thing because that would be silly, but so is the idea that someone would want your half eaten pickle. And I don’t get to write about pickles and turn them into innuendos every day so I totally said that.
Anyway, when you do that aggressive pickle defense maneuver your friend is mad and hurt. Maybe they don’t even want to be your friend anymore. At first you don’t even care because who needs a pickle poaching friend? NOT YOU. And you feel very self righteous until the shame sets in and you spend the next six days crying over internet memes and sending apologetic emails.
Pretty much, either scenario makes you feel like a horrible human and spending any time feeling like a horrible human is exhausting and a waste of your precious time. It’s the kind of thing that makes you immediately want to melt some cheese on something and gulp it down with a mason jar full of merlot. Am I right?
So here is a little prompt for what clear and kind boundary setting might look like:
Friend asks for pickle.
You: “No. I don’t want to give it to you. I love this pickle so much I’m going to eat it all myself. They sell them at the bodega down the street. You should go get yourself some. In fact, you should get us both some and we can eat pickles and watch Game of Thrones together.”
You don’t even have to add that last part where you invite more interaction. Unless you really want to. Or unless you need help keeping track of the twisted labyrinth that is Game of Thrones because good grief who doesn’t.
Darling, you are allowed to say no soley because wanting someone’s half eaten food is really weird.
You know what else is weird? Asking you to work for free, or on your day off (when you haven’t expressley invited this), or asking you to do or give anything you have already clearly stated that you don’t have or don’t want to give.
And sometimes saying no (especially to friends and clients) with clarity and efficacy and then carrying on without losing sleep, can be uncomfortable.
But the more you practice, the less awkward and infuriating it will be.
Questions? Need help figuring out how to set your boundaries so you don’t end up drained and compensating with food and other destructive behaviors?
Call me anytime on a Sunday and we can talk about it for hours!
You should totally schedule an appointment with me and I will absolutely help you get your life and health in order because health coaching with me is awesome and so comprehensive it includes tools to ensure that all areas of your life are feeding rather than starving you. I would love to see you being wildly successful, happy and healthy. It’s what I do.
See how that works?
It would also be cool if you write comments about pickles, Game of Thrones, or tell stories of how people have tried to trample your good boundaries and what you did about it so other people can learn from YOU.
Ok. So go ahead and carry on being brilliant now.
I adore you.