When I was a child I was allowed to the boundary of the garden and not beyond. As I got older I was allowed to venture to the path just outside the gate, then to the end of the road, and then to go to the shop around the corner but on a time limit.  These boundaries were in place to keep me safe and to teach me how to extend into the world and keep myself safe.  It was a good lesson.


Business Boundaries

In business, we need boundaries on many levels.  At a very basic level, a boundary is implied in our working day – we know when our working day should end – I say ‘should’ because most of us in small business are working way beyond what would be a normal day.  Receiving an email from another business at 8.55 pm on a Sunday night tells just me that.

Process boundaries

We also have process boundaries – there may be a limit on how many contacts you can put in your CRM system (Client Relationship Management System) before you have to pay full price. There is a boundary – a limit – on how many copies you can print before you have to change the ink in your printer and on and on they go.

Boundaries give you freedom

Why does maintaining boundaries make your day flow more freely?  Do you have a boundary or a limit on how many times in the day you are prepared to be interrupted?  Is it reasonable to say to your staff – come to me once in the morning and once in the afternoon and bring several problems rather than coming to me each time?  Putting limitations and boundaries means that your working day is interrupted less. Equally important, it means that unless the issue is critical, your colleague may actually work it out themselves.

It is very easy to get reliant on a leader who is always available but in tackling a problem oneself, a level of learning, responsibility and confidence will be gained.

Do you turn off the notification sound on your email when you are writing a report or doing some creative work?  How about your mobile? Do you put it on silent – or even turn it off – when you are out with your family at the weekend?  Do you have a boundary around how late in the evening you will take a call?


Non-negotiable boundaries

Confidentiality is non-negotiable for me – my therapy business and the work I do with business owners is confidential, what is said between the two of us stays with the two of us.  It’s paramount for me.

Having boundaries or limits is a way of us managing ourselves and others but some may be hard to make and hard to keep in place.  It is essential that they are kept in place because many times in life, people will continually test them.

Why boundaries are difficult to maintain

I asked my Daddy for a cookie – he said NO
I asked my Daddy for a cookie – he said NO
I asked my Daddy for a cookie – he said NO
I asked my Daddy for a cookie – he said NO
I asked my Daddy for a cookie – he said NO
I asked my Daddy for a cookie – he said YES
The End.

Children and cats know how to push a boundary, in fact they are masters at breaking them. They just keep going until you wear down. Your test is to maintain them.  Why don’t we? Why do we give in?

We tell ourselves that if we aren’t available 24/7 we will miss the sales call, or that we will lose the client. We tell ourselves that if we don’t make ourselves available to our colleagues at any time, that things will go wrong.  That it is only us that can handle that problem.

Not holding a boundary is based in fear, emotional projection, or lack of confidence in ourselves or others. We tell ourselves we ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do something.  Or if we are at burnout, we may just not have the energy.  There are many reasons we don’t hold a boundary.

When we hold a boundary we demonstrate to ourselves and others that we are disciplined and trustworthy; and that we have self-respect and confidence in the other.


Holding a boundary can be a huge challenge but it is essential if we are to function efficiently and safely.  Notice your boundaries today.  What are they?  Do you hold them?  What happens when you don’t?

contribution by Elaine Flook – see more articles at elaineflook.com

Elaine is a Performance Therapist and Consultant to Bookable.


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