Set Boundaries without feeling like a B***h!
We know boundaries are a good idea
We know deep down that boundaries are a good idea. We set them for our kids, so they learn what’s expected of them. They’re used by my husband to know how much of the front lawn he must mow. They also allow us to walk safely on the path and cars to drive on the road. So why is it so hard for us female business owners to set boundaries for our businesses and ourselves?
We can avoid many issues
So many times, when I talk to women about overcoming the obstacles they’re facing, it comes down to boundaries. Boundaries are often a result of the “Super Woman” type of Imposter Syndrome. The Super Woman rarely says no. She wants to do it all. Because she thinks that is how to get on. Often, she does it for external validation. She wants to show the world that she’s worthy. She’s as good as anyone else. So, she often takes on more than she can handle. Worse still, she seeks validation from those that are not important. Leaving loved ones behind.
You’re not a B***h to set boundaries
Setting boundaries to those Super Women (I’m a recovering Super Woman myself!) makes her feel like she’s a b***h. People won’t like her if she says no. But I have a warning for you here. You’re heading for burnout. With a family that feels neglected and clients that are let down. Harsh but true.
If you don’t
Taking on more and more when you only have a finite number of hours in the day, is quite obviously a recipe for disaster. You’re not going to be able to do everything. And one of the most damaging things you can do in business, is not doing what you say you will. Think about when you promise something to your kids, but don’t deliver. That’s what your clients are doing but probably not right in front of you. Instead they’re telling others of their disappointment.
There’s a way to set Boundaries and not be a B***h!
As Sarah Knight so eloquently puts it “you can not give a F**k without being an A***hole”. Firstly though, I want to talk to about why boundaries are important. Go back to why you set up your own business. Just as in marketing, all adverts can be drilled down to sex (it was about the only part I remember of the marketing element of my degree!). I’m 99% sure that your reason for starting a business comes down to “Freedom”. Being able to balance work and time with family. Not being constrained by others’ values or morals (or lack of them). Or maybe not being location dependant, allowing you to travel as much as you like.
I want you to be really honest here, no-one else is listening. How far have you got to in that dream? If you’re not setting boundaries, I suspect you’re far from reaching the nirvana of freedom. I would go so far as to suggest you’ve probably trapped yourself further.
Why aren’t you setting boundaries?
Why don’t you have them in place? Because you don’t want to be a b***h? In all seriousness, I suspect you are the total opposite of being a b***h if you’re not setting boundaries. You’re actually over giving! Most likely you’re feeling downtrodden because you don’t have the boundaries in place.
Turn things upside down
If you know me, you’ll know I love to turn things on their head / upside down! So here we go. Instead of thinking about how you feel about boundaries, think in terms of your customer or clients’ experience. If they don’t know what to expect, they’ll lack confidence. They may even hesitate in purchasing from you.
Clarity of boundaries
When you order from Amazon, you check delivery time. This is a boundary set. You know if you’ve not received the item by that time, you need to get in touch, but you won’t chase up until then. If you call someone and they tell you they’ll get back to you in 48hrs, you know where you stand. If they didn’t, you might get frustrated as to why they hadn’t called back sooner. It’s important to communicate expectations to your customers and clients. So, they know where they stand. Does that make you feel less of a b***h? Boundaries are good!
You need boundaries
Boundaries are essential if you’re going to reach the nirvana of “Freedom”. You’ll need clear boundaries around work and play to get the balance you deserve. To enable you to spend time with your family and avoid that dreaded burnout. A wonderful parenting coach, Rebecca Cooper advises to spend 10 mins per child to focus totally on them, to ensure they feel heard and loved. Setting this boundary has been incredible for me. I no longer have the guilt of trying to juggle everything and in addition, my kids respect my work time, because they know they get their time.
If you’re new to boundaries
Take it slowly. Think about what is important to you and implement a boundary around that. Boundaries can be tested, when a customer or client challenges you, but that is fine. You’ll learn how important that boundary is to you. Celebrate that you’ve put that boundary in place to ensure that you protect what is important to you. Train your clients on what they can expect from you. If they don’t like it, well they’re not your ideal client. There is also a thinking that by doing this, you are being specific to the Universe as to what you want in the future.
Some simple boundaries that I’d encourage all of us to have in place
1) Plan work time and downtime. I love my work too, so occasionally it creeps into the weekend. But ultimately my weekends are spent focusing on my family and ensuring that my batteries are recharged ready to serve the following week. If I didn’t do this (I’ve failed in the past!), then I feel guilty about not spending time with my family and I’m distracted when with clients the following week.
2) Have a service level agreement (SLA), so you provide clarity on what your customers and clients can expect. Without this, you’ll find them chasing and you’ll have to spend time explaining when you could be getting on with finishing what was needed. These can be as simple as telling clients that you’ll get back to them in 48 hours or that a product will take a week for delivery. All of these can be exceeded, so you don’t have to wait 48 hrs to call back. In fact, if you do it in 24hrs, I am sure the client will be very happy and think more of you as a result!
3)Say no occasionally. I’ve never lost a client or customer in any of my businesses from saying no. I’ve actually been recommended as a result! To stop that B***h feeling creeping in, you just need to give them a simple explanation. “I’m fully booked/sold out” … “I’m not the expert on this subject, I think you’d be better finding someone else”. On the flip side, saying yes to something you don’t want/feel you can do, doesn’t work for anyone! I once said yes to coaching a client’s son who had lost his way. I had reservations as he was definitely not my ideal client and I was concerned that this was more of his Mum’s idea than his. I was right. He wasn’t brought into the idea and sat crossed arms, grunting (he was 25, but acted like a teenager!). He answered some questions but wouldn’t open up to have a valuable conversation. I felt that I’d let him and his mum down. And because I couldn’t help him, it took a little bit of my confidence away too. In hindsight, I should’ve said no, but I didn’t want to be a b***h. It’s now a boundary of mine to coach only those I’m confident I can help! For both me and them…
To conclude… Boundaries are good.
It really is a no brainer! They provide clarity to others and allow you to create the life you dream of. So now tell my why you don’t have them in place? If you still struggle with feeling like a b***h, then join me in my Facebook group and we’ll knock more sense into you! Alternatively, have a read of “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k” by Sarah Knight.