Clear Boundaries over the Holidays

Living the Balance between Asserting and Accommodating

As we step into the holiday season, we all know the importance of boundaries, but what can be most challenging is knowing when to assert and when to accommodate.

“Sure, I’m happy to delay the Thanksgiving dinner until Uncle and Aunt can get here.” (accommodating)

“I think we need to stick with our agreed upon plan for the sake of the rest of the family since I’ve noticed they tend to run late each year.”  (asserting)

Accommodating can be great, until it’s not.  When you notice that you’re feeling a bit cranky it’s probably because you’ve been over-accommodating too long around the same repeated action.  And it’s time to assert.  But you can still assert with love and grace that preserves the relationship.

And oftentimes it’s a bit of both.

“I think we need to stick with our agreed upon plan for the sake of the rest of the family, but we’ll be sure to keep the food warm for them!”  (asserting & accommodating)

The trick is keeping the balance. Neither one is good or bad.  Both are important in holding your boundaries and caring for your relationships.

In my work with people, I’ve noticed that the over-accommodaters are exhausted and frustrated trying to please and the over-asserters are isolated and rigid in their relationships.   Each has to learn to balance the other way.

So, if you’re unsure about how to develop your asserting muscle or your accommodating muscle as you set your boundaries this holiday season, here’s some phrases I offer that “buy you time” to figure it out:

  1. Hmm . . . That’s a good question. 
  2.  Let’s see . . . That’s a tough one.
  3. You know, I’d have to think about that. I’m not sure. 
  4. Let me think about that for a few and I’ll get back to you. 
  5. Before I respond, I think I need some more clarification.
  6. I appreciate your request, but I’m not sure about it.  Thanks for your transparency.  
  7. I can see your perspective, but I don’t have the time to respond and I want to put some thought into it.  Would you mind if I circled back around with you_____________?
  8. I know I will forget, and I don’t want to, would you mind sending me an email/text?
  9. That’s a good possibility, but I need to think about it.
  10. Hmm…that’s an interesting option.

Once you’ve figured out what you need and what you want, this allows you to step into the conversation with clarity while still preserving the relationship.

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