You don’t need a scary fortress to create boundaries. Nor do you have to lock yourself away to enforce them.
This week I was reminded of how to set clear boundaries unapologetically. There is a personal training program I belong to.
The trainers are body builders, some of them look very intimidating, because of the mere size of their muscles.
But words can be even more powerful than the muscles we build. It really does not take that much muscle to get a point across. And that’s exactly where this story begins.
One of the trainers was being talked to in a flirty, cutesy way by a client. The trainer kept a straight face and spoke a very simple sentence, “Don’t talk to me that way”.
Period , the end, That’s all it took. He didn’t need to flex his muscles and get angry or make threats. He didn’t apologize for laying a boundary down. His simple statement was the most powerful thing in the room.
The client changed her demeanor instantly. It was the best boundary setting I have ever witnessed. It was a great reminder if you don’t like something you don’t have to make an excuse , or demean yourself in some way. You don't need to apologize for something you find unacceptable.
What he did was set a tone, I’m here to help you work out period. It was clear from his statement, flirting will not be tolerated so don’t even think about engaging in an inappropriate relationship. He didn’t need to say any of this, his one statement, “ don’t talk to me that way” took care of all of it.
This trainer was on point and his leadership and boundary setting shone through. As a social worker we always want to make people feel comfortable, but sometimes the best way to do that is with very clear boundaries.
No awkward situation will ever arise with that client again, because she knows it will not be tolerated.
If you are in a situation you don’t know how to handle , I would encourage you to take this simple statement and make it your own. Setting boundaries may not feel easy, but NOT setting them may lead to very scary situations!