#103 - Can Boundaries Be Gentle?

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By Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW, Vicki Tidwell Palmer, and LCSW. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

One of the biggest misconceptions about boundaries is that they’re harsh, rigid, or mean, and that they damage intimacy. In fact, boundaries can absolutely be expressed in a gentle way. And that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about in detail today! I’ll share six easy and specific ways that you can express a limit gently.

Biggest Takeaways From Episode #103:

  • Sometimes we go from one extreme to another, going from struggling to say “no” to saying “no” frequently or in a way that’s difficult for other people to hear.
  • Here are six ways you can express a limit gently:
    1. “Thanks, but I can’t.” (Then stop talking!)
    2. “That is so kind of you! But I can’t accept/do that today.”
    3. “I understand. I’m not able to do that.” Or, “I understand, but I can’t.” (Use this when you’re getting pushback or feeling baited.)
    4. “I hear you” or “I hear that.” (Use this when you’ve previously said “no” to the same request.)
    5. “Thanks for the opportunity. I’m not available, but I hope your event is fabulous!”
    6. “That’s a generous offer, but I’m not able to accept it. I’ll pass, but thank you so much.”
  • Even though these responses are gentle, the recipient may still tell you that you’re being harsh. Your gentleness doesn’t guarantee a certain response.

Highlights from Episode #103:

  • Vicki welcomes listeners to the episode and introduces its topic: whether boundaries can be gentle. She also shares a story from Sheri Winston, who was previously on the podcast. [00:39]
  • It’s common to go from one extreme to the other, Vicki explains. [03:52]
  • We hear what it sounds like when we haven’t found ways to express boundaries gently. [08:11]
  • Vicki shares the first four of her strategies for expressing boundaries in a gentle way. [10:44]
  • The recipient of these responses may still say you’re being harsh, Vicki points out, then shares the remaining strategies. [15:11]
  • Each of Vicki’s strategies begins with an acknowledgment, and most have appreciation. [18:56]
  • Vicki points out that you have no control over how the listener responds. [20:26]

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