How To Set Boundaries Without Sounding Arrogant
Use "I" statements. The use of "I" statements takes the
blame off the person you are addressing and asks for
cooperation. Examples of "I" statements are:
"I will not tolerate your making fun at my expense in
front of other people. If you do it again, I will call
you on it and then I will leave."
"I do not like when you take my car without asking. If
you do it again, I will call the police."
"I'm not happy when I come home from work and the
breakfast dishes are still on the table. If the
breakfast dishes are still on the table again, I will
take away your tv privledges."
Good "I" statements always begin with the word "I". They
then state a feeling or a problem. They do not blame or
accuse. They are direct and complete. They tell the
other person what you will do if the problem is not
resolved. Be prepared to follow through if the boundary
is crossed. Think very hard about what you will do if
the boundary is crossed. Don't make threats. Make
Boundary setting may include "receptive listening".
Allow people to state their feelings without fear that
you will become angry.
Some people will test your boundaries. Be firm and stick
to it. If a boundary you set is tested, and you do not
follow through with what you promised to do, that
boundary no longer exists. It will be crossed again and
again. You must be firm when you set a boundary.
What if someone wants to argue when you assert your
boundary? Reassert your boundary and leave it. Take care
that your body language does not come across as
aggressive. Uncross your arms and do not lean in towards
the person. Tell them that you will be willing to
discuss their problems with them, but the boundary
If boundary setting is scary for you, try practicing it
in front of a mirror. People who have never set clear
boundaries might feel timid to take that first step. You
might want to, you might prepare to, but you never quite
get it out of your mouth. It just feels too alien.
Practice in front of a mirror. Practice saying it so
that it does not sound aggressive or defensive. Watch
your body language so that it does not look aggressive.
I knew one woman who was so shy that when she started
setting boundaries, she would plant her feet, lean in
towards the person, and grit her teeth. Her "boundary"
sounded more like a demand than a firm stance.
Practicing in front of a mirror will allow you to make
sure that you do not come across as demanding when you
first start setting boundaries.
People who set good boundaries are happier. And, the
people around them are happier, because they understand
exactly what the rules are and are not concerned with