Boundaries, Saying No and Assertiveness

Boundaries, being assertive, taking control of the things you must do is often challenging not because you lack the ability to do those things. The most challenging part of doing those things is the fallout that comes with other people.

When we were children, when our parents told us 'no' we did not like it. We threw tantrums.

As parents, we raise our children and tell them 'no' and we deal with tantrums.

As adults, in relationships we have personal and professional, we have to say no, set boundaries, and be assertive... and we find the hassles are just that hassles. We do not want to put up with the hassles others throw at us... and we give up. We do not push the issues at our own expense. We let others take advantage of us as it is less of a hassle than saying no, setting boundaries, and being assertive.

When we choose to say no, set boundaries, and be assertive; we often give others who do not employ these same skills at the same level some leeway. We allow them to learn that this is what is a part of you and they need to either step up or they will be left behind.

It is not an easy step to take on either side of the coin. Sometimes, the reactions are similar to temper tantrums of our early years. Sometimes, they are very tense and awkward. Sometimes, they are the end to relationships. It is because of these reasons, people tend to avoid saying no, setting boundaries, and being assertive. The person needing to do those things may give many chances to avoid the outcome, but at some point, it becomes necessary for it to happen.

What would cause a person to get to that point to be assertive and say this can't continue?

Often it is the constant stress of the unpredictable. It could be the feeling of exhaustion of trying to get them to respond accordingly or do a task. It could... well, the answers you have for yourself are the right answers... as it is how it affects you that matters.

When your requests are not out of line and the person agrees to them and does not complete the request, it is not because you are unfair. It is because they do not take it seriously.

They may want to take it seriously, but they do not take it seriously.

Let me explain.

When given a task to do and they agree to the task with specific instructions and deadlines, the expectation is set that the task will be done. However, if the person does not believe that deadlines are in fact deadline but wildly loose suggestions... then they do not take the deadlines seriously.

In many professions, deadlines are set because of specific reasons... to allow more time for revision, delivery, feedback, or simply because a deadline has to be set to get the task over with. When you set a deadline, there are often others who need to have the information or task completed to do their part of the job. When a deadline is blown off, the others cannot progress with their tasks.

Often, people who blow of deadlines have found out that there are no real consequences to the blown deadline. This then reinforces the ability to blow off deadlines any time they want. They learned that nothing bad will actually happen. It may be a bit embarrassing the first few times, but other than that... nothing bad happens.

When someone who is assertive, who says no, who sets boundaries comes along, it is more challenging for the person to get away with blowing off deadlines. The assertive person will give them set deadlines, clear instructions, and real consequences. To continue to blow off the deadlines demonstrates a flaw in one's character. It is then up to the assertive person to decide, 'is it worth my time to continue to deal with this person and their behaviors?"

The majority of assertive people in this position will give a few opportunities for the person to correct their behavior, but will set stronger deadlines and consequences. When it becomes apparent that the person will continue to blow off all the deadlines, tasks, requests, what have you... the assertive person must take action. Whether they want to or not.

It is not easy for the person to receive that and often that person garners sympathy from others for receiving the consequences. Yet, few understand that the assertive person doesn't like to do this, doesn't want to do this, but felt no other choice was present. When this happens, they take the good with the bad... the bad in this case is the fallout from the decision... the good, oddly enough... is a sense of relief from the stress this has caused having to deal with the behaviors.

No, it is not easy. It is not desired. It is a fact of life. Saying no has to happen. Setting boundaries has to happen. Being assertive has to happen. Why? Because to live a life brought down by constant tension, drama, and 'extra' work keeping someone else in line is not what people deserve. You need to stand up for yourself.

Get Ready and Set to Go - Leveraging Your Time 

Dannie