August 31, 2016

Dealing with Difficult People: How to Build STRONG Boundaries

Written by Rachel Eddins

Woman dealing with difficult people

Boundaries – that’s something difficult people just don’t want you to have.

They often act as if your boundaries don’t exist.They disrespect your privacy, your values, your life choices. Though at times they may not realize they’re trampling on your rights and dignity, that doesn’t excuse their rude behavior.

What can you do to stand your ground? How can you build strong boundaries that last?

Building Solid Boundaries

Building a strong fortification – like a wall – calls for hard work, diligent effort, and endurance. Similarly, building solid boundaries that will help you deal with difficult people requires the same process. It all begins with good preparation, clear plans, and persistent execution.

Prepare Yourself:

  • Believe that your needs are important – Everybody deserves respect, including you. While the thoughts, needs, and desires of other people are important, they should never downgrade or nullify your own. Understand that you have a right to personal boundaries. They are important for your well-being.
  • Resolve to be calm and in charge – You want to be taken seriously. That means not letting difficult people make you believe that you’re overreacting when you tell them to stop. You must be determined to stay calm when addressing the situation.
  • Have realistic expectations – Show some foresight and prepare to limit the time, or the occasions, for interacting with certain people. Analyze and identify any patterns that might have you stuck in unhealthy boundary setting.
  • Put guilt aside – Assure yourself that setting boundaries is healthy. Feeling like somebody is controlling your every move is not okay. Don’t feel guilty for taking steps to live a happier life.

Define Your Boundaries:

  • Decide what your boundaries are – Write down everything that bothers you about the way certain people treat you. What needs to change? What limits need to be set that will accord you the dignity and respect you deserve?
  • Evaluate your priorities – Identify what kind of people you truly want and need in your life. Is it really the backstabbing, emotionally abusive, and overly demanding ones? Decide on who to completely eliminate and who will enforce limited interaction. Be firm about your decisions.

Implement With Persistence:

  • Lead by example – Often people learn how to treat you based on lessons you teach them. The golden rule still applies – treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Communicate clearly and honestly – Be honest and clear about how you feel, so that what you say is not taken lightly. Good communication ensures that however difficult the person you’re dealing with, they will know exactly where they stand and what they need to do to have a better relationship with you.
  • Allow yourself to say “No” – You don’t need to be rude, callous, or unkind when
    tree in houston texas park with "just say no" carved in it

    When addressing a violation of your boundaries, say “no” in a firm, but kind way.

    addressing a violation of your boundaries, Neither should you avoid confronting the person just because you don’t want to appear selfish. Instead, assert your right not to be involved in certain situations by saying “No” in a firm yet, kind way.

  • Enforce through consequences – Not enforcing your personal boundaries gives difficult people an excuse to continue with the same disrespectful behavior as always. Don’t make threats, though. Simply give them options and set consequences. Then, let them decide whether you need to carry out those consequences. Don’t be afraid to enforce them if you must. Sometimes that might mean you have to distance yourself from important, yet toxic, relationships or social activities.
  • Walk away – If all else fails, simply end the interaction. Some difficult people are like a force of nature – they’re impossible to confront. Your best strategy may be to retreat.

If you’d like to learn more about setting healthy boundaries that last, contact one of our Houston counselors today at 832-559-2622, by email at [email protected], or schedule an appointment online.

More blog posts you may be interested in:

How to Identify & Express Your Needs in a Relationship

Assertive Communication Tips

Webinar Replay: Setting Healthy Boundaries: 4 Guilt-free Strategies for Success

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