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Better Boundaries
June 13, 2023
By Viv Fantin
Better Boundaries

Do you often say yes when you really mean no? Then beat yourself up for saying yes or resenting the person for asking you in the first place? You’d know if you do because there is usually a cost attached to the yes – your time, physical and mental energy, irritability and stress.


Or maybe you’re hooked into an unhealthy pattern with a colleague, client or manager or an artist you manage? Constantly saying yes to the needs of others can often mean no time left to attend to your own. Your personal goals and self-care are put on the back burner and then discontent starts to kick in.


But here’s the thing. We are all entitled to boundaries.


In life and at work they help us take care of ourselves by giving us permission to not take everything on to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. Boundaries are necessary components for self-care and 100% crucial for managing stress. They draw a clear line around what is ok for us and what isn’t. While some behaviours clearly cross the line for almost everyone, we all have different comfort levels when it comes to our workload.


In the music industry, the inability to say no can look like many things:


* Saying yes to working back even though you've made plans.

* Being available around the clock for an artist you manage.

* Saying yes to an unreasonable request by a difficult client or boss because there's a power imbalance that makes them hard to say no to.

* Agreeing to doing or finishing someone else's work (scope creep).


The list is FKN ENDLESS.


From a coaching perspective it's important to look closely at your mindset around not being able to say no. Here are some reasons why saying YES might have become your default position:


* Your self-worth is linked to how much you do for others.

* Your worry that boundaries will affect your progress at work or that you'll lose your job.

* You can’t bear the thought of disappointing someone.

* You fear that saying no will make others angry and that you’ll be rejected.

* You feel guilty saying no.

* You fear people won’t like or include you if you say no.

* Everyone around you says 'yes', so you feel you should too.

* You have control issues and problems delegating (it’s easier for me to do this, XXX can’t do it the way it should be done etc)

* You have serious FOMO and feel like saying no will isolate you.

* You’ve fallen into the trap of ‘should’ thinking -I ‘should’ say yes, I ‘should’ do this, and I ‘should’ do that.


Before you hit the yes auto-pilot next time take a moment to get some clarity around these important things:


1. What does this commitment specifically mean in terms of my time and energy?

2. What are my current priorities and does what I’m being asked to do fit in with those?

3. Is this request crossing a line? Personal, scope creep with work etc.

3. What is my gut telling me? (Your gut almost never lies)


Boundaries are awesome, but not so helpful when they live only in your head! Assume all mind reading powers have disappeared because in order for your boundaries to have real-life impact, they need to be communicated to the other person/s. And based on the work I do with clients; this is where things get tricky.


Communicating boundaries isn’t always comfortable – initially people may react if you say no or try spelling out your needs more clearly. People may try and test your limits to see how serious you are about drawing the line. That doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong. It may be that you need to be clear and consistent until people adjust to the new way of interacting. Keep practicing and eventually you’ll gain confidence in setting boundaries.


Take your time before saying yes instantly. Think through the consequences. If it’s a partial yes, be clear with what you’re able to offer time wise and stick with it. Don’t feel you need to bean apologist and provide long and detailed explanations. Be direct and take emotion out of the equation. An unemotive no is much easier to deliver.


Remember you’re saying NO to the request, not the person who asked. Being clear on your priorities and your values will help. If service to others is high on your values list, then saying YES might be right for you. If you have pressing priorities in your life right now and you know that saying yes will tip you over the edge, then the choice is more straightforward.


Offer an alternative or don’t. Saying no can often give the person you’re saying no to an opportunity to figure out the best solution for themselves.


Thanks for reading and here's to better boundaries.

Coach Viv xo

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