“Fences make good neighbors!,” by Robert Frost. 

We’ve all heard that saying before, and there’s a lot of truth to it. Having well-defined boundaries in our relationships is one of the best ways to reduce conflict and build healthy, lasting bonds.

We have property lines to delineate our physical space, and we must establish emotional boundaries to protect our mental and spiritual wellbeing. Just like we wouldn’t let our neighbor build a shed on our land without permission, we shouldn’t allow anyone to trespass on our personal space either.

Boundaries aren’t about being mean or shutting people out, they’re about taking care of ourselves and setting clear expectations for how we want to be treated.

Boundaries are an important part of any healthy relationship. By taking the time to set boundaries, you can protect yourself and build lasting, fulfilling bonds with the people in your life. So, don’t be afraid to put up a few fences! Your relationships will thank you for it.

Lack of clear boundaries and failed expectations are primary reasons for conflict in our lives!

But what exactly are boundaries, and how do we set them?

Boundaries are the lines we draw in our relationships that define what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. They help us to protect our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, and they allow us to establish a sense of personal autonomy.

There are all sorts of boundaries we can set in our relationships – from simple things like asking our partners not to leave their dirty socks on the floor to more serious boundaries like saying no to sex before we’re ready.

Boundaries can also be flexible – they don’t have to be set in stone, and we can adjust them as our needs change.

The important thing is that we communicate our boundaries clearly to our partners and that we respect their boundaries as well.

When both parties feel comfortable and respected, that’s when relationships thrive.

Here is a list of 6 types of boundaries we can set in our relationships:

1)  Physical Boundaries:  physical boundaries are the restrictions we impose on physical touch.   Physical limits might include a handshake, a fist bump, a hug, or no contact. Because people have varied opinions, expectations, and backgrounds, it’s essential to state your and others’ expectations when interacting in social and professional situations.

2)  Emotional Boundaries: these are the limits we set on how much we share about ourselves emotionally. We might want to share our feelings and thoughts with our friends, partner or co-workers but not feel we have to tell them everything.  Others may feel more comfortable sharing less. It’s important to communicate with people about what you’re comfortable discussing and what is off-limits.

3) Mental Boundaries: these are the limits we set on how much we allow our friends, co-workers, and partners to influence our thoughts and opinions. We might want to be open to hearing their point of view but not feel we have to agree with them all the time.  It’s necessary to have a sense of our own opinions and thoughts and feel confident enough to share them.

4)  Spiritual Boundaries: these are the limits we set on how involved our friends, co-workers, and partners can be in our spiritual life. We might want to share our beliefs and practices with them but not feel like we have to follow their religion.  Others may feel more comfortable keeping their spirituality private. It’s important to communicate with people about our spiritual beliefs and where we stand on different issues. In sensitive areas, it is often best to proceed with respect and caution.

5)  Financial Boundaries:  their might be limits on how we spend our time with friends, co-workers, and partners. We might want to be generous with our time but not feel like we have to go into debt. Others may feel more comfortable setting stricter limits on their money. It’s important to communicate with people about our expectations around spending time and money. It’s always a smart idea to accept assistance when it’s offered, but be careful about making too many demands. thoughtful acts that may make people feel appreciated include giving a gift for a coworker, supporting charity, offering someone lunch without expecting anything in return, or volunteering to help with a project.

6) Time Boundaries:  we’ve all heard the saying that “time is money,” but it’s true in our relationships as well. We set limits on how much time we’re willing to spend with our friends, co-workers, and partners. We might wish to spend every waking minute with them, but we don’t want to feel compelled to give up our hobbies and interests. It is essential to communicate our needs and expectations to maintain a healthy balance.

7) Professional Boundaries:  it’s a matter of setting boundaries and resisting requests at work. Here are some examples of how you can say no at work, draw a line with your coworkers about how much you’ll disclose about your personal life, or establish a deadline for when you’re willing to work (e.g., no working weekends). When your employer asks if you can do anything, respond with a firm “Yes!” Then add, “By Friday at 5 p.m., I’ll have it completed.” If you’re already swamped with work, offer him a date and time the following week or inquire which activities he wants you to delay until you finish the one he just assigned. If a coworker asks if you want to go to happy hour after work, you can say, “No, thank you. I have plans.” Finally, if someone wants to know too much about your personal life, you can say, “That’s really personal, and I’m not comfortable discussing it.”

When we have healthy boundaries, we’re able to:- Respect ourselves and our needs- Respect our partners and their needs- Have healthier, happier relationships you’re not sure where to start with setting boundaries, a good place to begin is by taking some time to think about what you need and want in a relationship.

What makes you feel safe, loved, and respected?

What makes you feel uncomfortable, disrespected, or like your needs aren’t being met?

Once you have a good understanding of your own needs, you can start to communicate them to your partner. It’s also important to remember that boundaries can be different in different relationships. We might have different boundaries with our co-workers than our friends or family members.

No matter what type of boundary we’re setting, the important thing is that we communicate our needs to our friends, partner, co-workers, and boss clearly and respectfully.

When both parties feel comfortable and respected, that’s when relationships thrive!

Bill Mason, Rocket Fuel Coach, ICF ACC, CPLC, Birkman’s Consultant, COSMO Professional