Effective Communication

How to use boundaries in a challenging conversation

June 13, 2022
min read

So many of us struggle with having challenging conversations – whether personal or work-related. When something isn’t quite right and there’s a need for change in a relationship, the discomfort of being in that situation and the impatience of resolving it prevents us from listening. We just want to say how we feel, dictate our solution and move forward.

However, in order to really resolve the situation it takes both sides. A long-term solution requires fully understanding the issue on both sides. And that requires listening. But listening is hard, when emotions run high.

Setting in place discussion boundaries can help us prevent emotions getting in the way.

A quote to keep in mind

“Boundaries protect our equality as thinkers. And so we can relax.”

– Nancy Kline, ‘More Time To Think’

How to use boundaries in a challenging conversation

What do we mean by boundaries? A proposed mutually pre-agreed discussion structure:

  1. Person #1 speaks and Person #2 just listens
  2. Person #2 repeats back what they’ve heard
  3. Person #1 clarifies any misunderstandings
  4. Repeat (1), (2) and (3) for Person #2
Author Portrait
Written by
Mica Vaipan

Performance & wellbeing coach, entrepreneur. Formerly startup founder, tech startup COO and investment banker.

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