How To Create And Respect Boundaries


I wrote recently an article on how the current news stories of sexual harassment are due to a severe lack of boundaries. The accused appear to have abused their power, by violating the personal boundaries of others.

This article will touch on the various types of boundaries, and how to create them for yourself, as well as respect the personal boundaries of others. Following these rules will create a better life for you, and will improve on how you interact with others, both professionally and personally.

Learning boundaries is not an automatic thing. You have to be aware of what you're feeling, in order to want to make changes. Learning boundaries is harder than one would think. What’s worked for me is focusing on how I feel when certain events happen to me. We all know that change can be difficult. A method to help make change easier is to know these items:

  • Why do you want to change? You should write down the reasons why you feel a change is necessary
  • What do you want to change? This is key. If you feel like your personal boundaries are being violated, it's up to you to change that situation
  • Knowing you can change. Another crucial step is believing in yourself, and trusting that you in fact can change
  • Confirm that you are really wanting to change. Saying you want to change, and actually changing are two different worlds
  • Celebrate early wins. I wrote about the importance of celebrating victories in this article

Personal boundaries are necessary for you, and for the people you interact with. Boundaries is a big word, and can mean many things. I'm not referring to territorial or land boundaries in this example, but personal space is definitely a boundary that should be respected and observed.

  • Physical - Also known as your personal space. Some people love hugs, while others do not want personal contact. Some people like handshakes, while others are into fist bumps. Figure out what your style is and watch for cues from whom you interact with. If you're unsure, ask. I attended a conference, and someone I met with actually asked people permission if she could hug them. It's up to you if you want to allow that, and also up to you if you should ask permission. Hint: You should
  • Mental - Opinions. Everyone has them, and some have opinions on a multitude of subjects. Respect is crucial, especially when others have a different opinion or value a situation differently than you. Respect their thoughts and decisions, even though you may not agree with them
  • Emotional - Similar to mental, how you react to someone when they interact with you will go a long way in keeping your internal peace. Also, protect yourself from projecting your opinions on others, and don't take criticism or disagreement from others personally. Respect the space they're coming from
  • Material - When you loan something to someone, and they don’t return that item, a boundary has been violated. How do you feel? Ok, now imagine you’re the borrower, and you haven’t returned that item. The person that loaned that item to you feels violated as well

Respect is key when dealing with your boundaries and the boundaries of others.

How to Establish Boundaries

Some tips that have helped me in my career include:

  • Document how you felt on interactions with others, where you felt some of your boundaries were affected. How did you feel? Happy? Sad? Uneasy (stomach ache or queasy?) This will help you define new boundaries on how you handle interactions
  • Set limits to your work day. I see too many executives and entrepreneurs burning the candle at three ends. Stop checking emails from 6 am until 11 pm every day. Your body cannot work 24/7, so stop acting like you can 
  • Turn off notifications on your smartphone. Are the apps on your phone looking like Rudolph and have a red nose on the corner? 10,412 emails are not going to be read at once. Go into the Notifications setting on your phone and set to off on every app, except texts and phone. I keep the notifications on those two apps, because I have children and I want to make sure I respond to them in a timely manner. Email does not require an immediate response
  • Treat everyone as if they were your favorite (favourite in Canada) friend or relative. The clerk that just took your order for a Number two with a Coke, treat them like they're your friend. Don't bark orders at them. Do you like people barking orders at you? That's what I thought. Don’t have people treat you like a Welcome mat, and neither should you treat others without respect and dignity
  • Communicate with your boss! I hear so often that people are working long hours because their boss expects that. Do they? Did your boss physically tell you to work long hours? Open conversations with your boss are crucial in your career success. Working 12-hour days are not going to generate any more output than working an 8-hour day. 
  • Visit for more information and resources on how to create Boundaries for Life!



Do you want a better start to your day? I have a free e-book on six easy steps to a better day, that I personally follow after I experienced a significant health scare. If you would like this free e-book, please click the link below.