How to communicate your boundaries, clearly and kindly

If you want to live life to the full, good communication skills are pretty much essential.

Healthy communication skills are vital for anyone who wants to experience less conflict and enjoy more peace.

Last month, we explained that everyone has rights, including the right to be listened to and heard. However, it’s also good to note that we all have the matching responsibility; to listen well and hear others too.

This month, we’re exploring how to talk about your boundaries clearly and kindly. 

If you followed up on last month’s blog by doing some work on your own boundaries, you may find you now have some things to say, that are worth saying well!

Some of us have had plenty of opportunities and practice to develop great communication skills in childhood and our teenage years. Others missed out on important opportunities to learn how to communicate well.

The good news is that it’s never too late to learn.

Better communication skills can transform our relationships at work, at home and with those around us. Better communication around our boundaries can help us prevent or manage those things that significantly impact our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Whether we like it or not, there are times we all need to have difficult, challenging conversations.

Essential Communication Skills

We can try to avoid them, but that’s not always possible, or desirable, for anyone’s long term good. Being willing to face some discomfort now, can free us from the probability of experiencing more frustration, anger, exhaustion, or burnout later.

So how can we learn to have tough conversations, with appropriate tenderness, and with genuine respect for others? How can we learn to communicate clearly and kindly with truth and grace?

Good words matter.

Some of us are better communicators than others. Some of us are ‘talkers’ and some of us are not… but good communication is about more than just talking.

There are times that writing stuff down, can be even more useful, especially if it’s vital we choose our words carefully, or we want to allow others time to reflect on what we’ve said, before they respond.

Using our words well, includes what we say in our texts and emails, cards and letters. Yes – some of us still send those (and most of us still love to receive them!)

We can learn and practice good communication skills that include how to:

  • Prepare the ground beforehand

  • Start a good conversation well, when things need to change

  • Say a healthy ‘no’ in response to a request or invitation

  • Uphold healthy boundaries under pressure (rather than cave in)

  • Find good words to gracefully handle the expectations of others

  • Check you’ve understood other people’s words and intentions correctly

  • ‘Rumble’ across bumpy ground and journey through difficult territory together

  • Negotiate or be flexible, where appropriate

  • Disagree well (or agree to disagree, agreeably!)

  • Be assertive, rather than aggressive (and perhaps even be appropriately vulnerable too)

  • Practise emergency self-care for yourself in the middle of difficult conversations – and demonstrate appropriate care and respect for others.

  • Know when to push through (and when to press pause!)

  • Bring closure appropriately – and work out what to do next.

We can’t control how others communicate, but we can learn to become more skilled communicators ourselves.

Communicating our boundaries well, doesn’t just change our conversations, it changes our relationships too. Having better relationships changes our health and wellbeing, for good.

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