Saying No & Setting Boundaries

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Saying no. It’s something that I feel has become “rude” in society these days. In essence, if you’re not a people pleaser, you’re rude. If you stick up for your time, your rates, etc., people are either offended or impressed. Why are people so impressed with people who say no? Why are people so impressed with other people who set boundaries?

Saying no is something that we’re taught as kids to not do. You always obey your parents. But then for some reasons, as teenagers, they live out their years in this world of “no! I can do whatever I want because I can take care of myself.” I’m discovering this with my 14-year-old younger brother who likes to remind us, “I’m older. I can do it myself.”

It’s interesting, this idea of saying no. I don’t understand why people take so much offense to it. Actually, I do. When you say no, you’re basically saying in one word, “I don’t have time for you or what you’re asking. I am unable to.” I’ve learned that it’s best to be honest.

Something that’s important is identifying why you’re saying no. Are you saying no because you can’t? Because you don’t have time? Because you don’t like that person? Because you just don’t want to? These are all valid reasons to not do something. It’s okay to say no, but it’s how you say no that matters.

When someone asks you to do something, you don’t just say, “No.” In my opinion, the only time I use the word “No” is when someone keeps pushing. “Oh, well you can just move that around, can’t you? This is really important to me…” Well, my prior engagements are important to me, and unfortunately I don’t have time.

I won't lie, I don’t take kindly to people who push me to give in. The trick to saying no is to not be a pushover.

Majority of the time, I like to take the professional approach when I say no, even with family and some friends. “Unfortunately, I don’t have time that day. I’m not sure when I’ll be free next, but I’ll get back to you.”

Don’t feel obligated to check your phone on a constant basis or meet everyone’s needs. Don’t feel obligated to check that email or reply to that text. It will still be there in an hour. It will still be there tomorrow. If you have time set aside to breathe, then breathe. Don’t waste that time meeting people’s needs. Respond to people when you have set aside to respond to people.

Saying no is a requirement when being your own boss. You’re going to have to turn down events, parties, hang out time, etc. You are your own boss so if you have a pile of administration work to be doing when someone asks you to come hang out, what are you going to choose? And I get it— it’s important to have time to have fun. So have fun! But have fun during your time off and not when you’re supposed to be working. Go hang out with your friends, but make sure you’re responsible. Unfortunately, being your own boss requires you to take responsibility for your own actions and your own work.

The other thing you need in being your own boss? Knowing that you have the power to set boundaries. Setting boundaries is very important for your sanity in being your own boss. For me, one of my boundaries is I do not answer my phone or my emails or my clients on Sundays. Sundays are my day off and if you need to get a hold of me you may do so, but do not expect a response until Monday.

Another example of setting boundaries: having people respect your time. I ask my clients to return promptly because my biggest pet peeve is when people don’t respect my time, and if I’m going to respect my following client’s time I need people to respect mine. I charge a “late fee” if a client is late.

In other instances, money. Money is weird and unfortunately you can barely live without it. I have had clients ask me to change my rates and have even had complaints from some, and you know, it’s quite irritating, because they so easily forget that I am also trying to make a living. I will tell people, “If you can’t afford me, then I’m afraid I can’t work for you.”

You can say “No” and set boundaries in a respectful manner. It’s the delivery system that counts. How are you saying it? Are you implying that you don’t have time for them and you don’t want to make time for them in your tone? Are you reacting from a place of resistance rather than remaining calm when someone disrespects you?

There’s this thing I learned from my Dad: You CANNOT mix emotions with your business.

That’s a topic for another time, but I will say this: mixing emotions in business can create messes that are difficult to clean up and could end up costing you. It’s not worth it. Don’t let your frustration or irritation get in the way of the big picture. They are your client. How do you want to make your clients feel?

My goal with my clients is to gain their trust and have what I like to call a professional friendship, where we are friendly, but we also understand where each other stands. I am your housekeeper, and you are paying me. That’s our understanding, so I will do the best job possible so that you feel like what you’re paying is worth it.

So set boundaries. I once had to set a boundary with a client of mine and said, “My rates are non-negotiable. Please do not continue to push me to lower my rates or I will have to refuse service to you. If you cannot afford to hire me, then I apologize, but I cannot work for you.”

That is setting a boundary while keeping emotions out of business. Saying no and setting boundaries has to be done and said in a way that is completely and totally professional with no emotion. I’m not saying be stagnate, but I am saying that you need to keep your frustration or irritation or even discomfort out of it.

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it can make things awkward. But being your own boss requires you to be steadfast, and part of being steadfast and having integrity requires you to set boundaries. Saying no, by the way, is a boundary.

Know what you want, and give yourself permission to ask for it. Be specific with your request and ask without apology. Watch your expectations, and accept if the answer is no. Don’t take it personally. Take responsibility for your own wants and needs. And if someone can’t do it for you, find a way to fulfill it yourself.

“Do not justify, apologize for, or rationalize the healthy boundary you are setting. Do not argue. Just set the boundary calmly, firmly, clearly, and respectfully.”

- Crystal Andrus

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blogpost! Be confident in who you are and who you stand for. Go be the amazing human being you all are!

Peace out!

Hey, guess what?! You can now listen to this blogpost on SoundCloud! Listen to How To Be Your Own Boss Series!


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