“How do you find the time to manage all of this social media stuff?” That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I present. And sometimes, I get the sense that people are hoping that it’s so complicated and time-consuming that they’ll have a great excuse NOT to do it. Not to learn [...]
How to Get More of What You Want - 7 Sanity Saving Business Boundaries
The lack of strong boundaries is one of the chief causes of stress, overwork and feelings of overwhelm in the business environment.
Clearly set boundaries help other people to understand how you want to be treated. They are the rules, if you like, that apply when others deal with you and your business. Sometimes we do not set boundaries because we dislike confrontation or anger, or because we think we will hurt other peoples feelings. The good news is that setting boundaries is a learnable skill, and one that can make a huge positive difference to the quality of your life.
The first step is to identify which boundaries you need to set. If you are in business, these seven are almost compulsory for easing the pressure on you in your working life:
- Learn to say no
Dont feel uncomfortable about saying no to an unreasonable request. If it is going to have a negative impact on you, or you dont really want to do something, then just say no. And dont feel as though you need to explain why. After all, we dont offer an explanation when we say yes.
- Be clear about what you do and what you dont do
If something is outside the bounds of your normal scope of work, then simply say so. It is easy to get caught up agreeing to do unusual things or one-offs that take up a lot of extra time. Your time is valuable and you want to spend it accordingly.
- When it''s OK for people to contact you
If you get customers and suppliers calling you at all hours then you need to establish this boundary. You can take control in this situation by looking for a win-win outcome. For example, "I know that you would like to speak with me. Right now, I am spending time with my family. What time tomorrow can I call you back? I guarantee that youll only need to say this once, and people will get the message very quickly.
- Payment terms
If people arent respecting your payment terms you need to let them know that this is unacceptable. Be clear upfront about what your terms are (yes - actually advise new customers verbally), and consider using payment options that give you control. For example, the timing of credit card deductions and direct debits are controlled by you, rather than by the customer.
- Working hours (Value your own time)
You are in control of your diary, not your customers. If you find yourself consistently working excessive hours, or longer than you want, then you are taking on more work than you can manage. Be honest about how long it will take you to complete the job. For example, - I can start working on this on Wednesday, which means it will be ready for you on Friday afternoon.
- The way in which people can speak to you
Some people use aggressive or abusive language to get what they want. You need to let them know that this isnt OK. For example, - I can see that you are upset. We do need to discuss this but I am not prepared to do so while you are angry. Let me call you tomorrow at a better time.
There are times when we are happy to provide a discount to valued and regular customers. At other times we can just get talked into it before we realize what has happened. Be very clear in your own mind about the circumstances in which you are prepared to drop your prices, and those in which you are not. And just stick to your guns. Youll find that most people are just trying it on to see if it will work.
The bottom line in setting boundaries is asking for what we really want. There is no need to defend, debate or over-explain your boundaries. If questioned, simply say something like it''s a business decision. When faced with resistance, repeat your statement or request. Stay strong. If you give in, you are inviting people to ignore your needs.
Each of us has a right to set boundaries. While others may not always get what they want in the short term, you will garner more respect from them and for yourself by standing up for your needs.