MYMENTORBLOGCOVERS

Pursuing Peace with Practical Boundaries

"Establishing healthy boundaries in your communication can seem confrontational but please keep in mind that if you do not set them for yourself, you leave it to other various people, as well as their selfish ambitions at the time, to set up boundaries for you."

As a Life Coach, I am often asked to listen to scenarios or play-by-play conversations to empower my clients with key words or phrases to clearly convey the message they want to have said or will say in order to establish healthy boundaries in a variety of relationships. Since my focus tends to be on Faith-based Career Coaching, Personal Power, and Family Relationships, I try to utilize language that works in the boardroom as well as at the family function.

Even though “No” is a complete sentence, we may feel like we’re not being thoughtful enough when we use it. Therefore, you can practice ways of saying ‘no’ by starting with appreciation, such as the following:

“I appreciate the offer”

“Thanks for thinking of me”

“Thank you for considering me”

“I appreciate the thought”

“I’m grateful for the invitation”

You can then empower your ‘no’ after expressing appreciation by following with a “BUT…” and one of the following statements.

  • “I’ll have to decline”
  • “I’ll have to pass”
  • “I’m going to have to take a rain check on that”
  • “This is beyond my capacity”
  • “I’m going to have to pass on this opportunity”
  • “I think I’ll have to skip this one”

If it is someone known for pushing your boundaries or you have declined before, its best to make your ‘no’ clear by starting with the ‘no’ first and then adding pleasantries, such as one of these 30 statements:

  1. “I’ll have to pass, but I hope it goes well.”
  2. “I’d rather not, but I’m flattered you asked.”
  3. “I’m going to have to decline this time, but I appreciate your understanding.”
  4. “I’m going to have to say no, but I appreciate the invitation.”
  5. “I’d rather not, but thanks for asking.”
  6. “I think I’ll sit this one out, but I hope you all have a great time.”
  7. “I’m not really up for it, but I appreciate the offer.”
  8. “I’ll have to pass this time, but I hope you find someone else.”
  9. “I’d prefer to pass, but I appreciate your consideration.”
  10. “I think I’ll have to sit this one out, but I’m thankful for the invitation.”
  11. “I’m not really up for it, but I’m grateful for the thought.”
  12. “I’ll have to politely decline, but I wish you the best with it.”
  13. “I’m going to have to say no, but I hope it turns out great.”
  14. “I’d rather not, but I appreciate your offer.”
  15. “I’m going to have to pass, but thank you for thinking of me.”
  16. “I’ll have to decline this time, but I appreciate your understanding.”
  17. “I’d prefer not to, but I hope you have a wonderful time.”
  18. “I’ll have to pass, but I hope everything goes smoothly.”
  19. “I’m not really up for it, but thanks for considering me.”
  20. “I’ll have to respectfully decline, but I wish you the best.”
  21. “I’d rather not, but I’m flattered you asked.”
  22. “I’m going to have to say no, but I hope it goes well.”
  23. “I’d prefer to pass, but I’m thankful for the thought.”
  24. “I’ll have to decline, but I’m sure you’ll find someone better suited.”
  25. “I’m going to have to pass on this one, but thank you for thinking of me.”
  26. “I’m not really up to it, but I appreciate the invitation.”
  27. “I’ll have to pass, but I hope you have a great turnout.”
  28. “I’ll have to sit this one out, but thanks for asking.”
  29. “I’m going to have to say no, but I wish you all the best.”
  30. “I’d rather not, but I hope everything turns out wonderfully.”

Hard and fast professional ‘no’s also work on someone’s third or fourth attempt at the same request as well. I wouldn’t recommend any further conversation or response after these statements – simply say your peace with a smile and turn away with your back to the person (silence speaks volumes on a matter).

  • “No thank you”
  • “I think I’ll have to take a rain check on this one”
  • “I’ll have to politely decline this time”
  • “I’ll have to respectfully decline your kind invitation.”

Be prepared for speculative murmuring about your intentions and character – many people find it difficult to accept when a familiar person first begins to implement boundaries and will therefore have an ‘adult tantrum’ which often manifests as complaining, gossiping, and assumptions. Try not to pay attention to it, correct it, respond to it, or give it too much space in your mind. Your actions will become clearer as you remain consistent. 

If it is a person who respects your boundaries and the relationship you have with them, they may ask questions (which is healthy). If they seem like sincere questions, I encourage my clients to speak with that person one-on-one at a later date to share their current state of well-being when it comes to boundaries. Sharing a testimony and asking for prayer is also often a part of healthy conversations with loved ones when it comes to this process. Be kind to yourself.

Notice that there are very few ‘apologies’ in the ‘no’s I’ve presented – there is nothing to apologize for. There was a request and you graciously declined. There was appreciation and a clear ‘no’ communicated. It is now the responsibility of the other party to hear and respect your response.

You will also notice that there were no lengthy explanation to any of the ‘no’s provided. Sometimes we decline for very personal reasons or concerns regarding our mental health. Private matters should remain private – this line is often crossed not by others, but by ourselves! We feel pressure by the puzzled looks we receive or the silence of shock to new boundaries set. We are sometimes in conversations with others and assume we know their intentions, but when boundaries are expressed we often see a person’s true colors. We interact with one another and if we pay attention to the interactions, we often find ourselves asking more questions, such as…

Were they even listening?

Are they a good communicator?

Do we have a mutually beneficial relationship?

Do they have my best interest in mind?

Is this relationship a priority for them?

Communication is key is all relationships, even those we have with our children. Establishing healthy boundaries in your communication can seem confrontational but please keep in mind that if you do not set them for yourself, you leave it to other various people, as well as their selfish ambitions at the time, to set up boundaries for you.

You don’t just create boundaries with those you do not want to afflict you, you also set up boundaries for those who want to love you and be a part of your life. People who care about your well being will want to know when you are uncomfortable. Clearly communicating your boundaries and saying ‘no’ when you mean it helps your friends and loved ones support you with intention.

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