What’s the relationship between boundaries and trust?  

Are boundaries a demonstration of mistrust? 

Often, we think people put boundaries in place because of a breached or broken trust, but the truth is that healthy boundaries are an important part of building trust. 

Lack of Boundaries Breeds Mistrust 

Have you ever worked with or been in some type of relationship with someone who doesn’t have good boundaries? You know the type: they never say ‘no’, they don’t honestly express their feelings and you almost always have to wonder what they’re really thinking.  

I’ve had conversation with many people who struggle with setting boundaries and tend to show up in the ways I described here, and, by and large, they’ll tell me that they’re people pleasers. These folks believe that, in not being honest about what they’re thinking or feeling, and in always saying yes even when their heart is saying no, that they are pleasing people. And, in the short-term, they might be right. However, people pleasing through not setting boundaries has the long-term impact of eroding trust and impeding relationships.  

Why? Because you get this niggly feeling, when you’re talking to them, that they’re not being honest. Because you eventually stop asking them to do things because you know they’ll say yes whether or not they actually want to or even can do the thing. In short, you stop trusting them. 

How Healthy Boundaries Build Trust 

Here’s how having healthy boundaries build trust: 

  • Having healthy boundaries are part of being an emotionally healthy person. Emotionally healthy people tend to have emotionally healthy relationships. Each leads to the other. 
  • Having healthy boundaries can help those around you feel secure because they always know what to expect from you, where the fences are, and where they stand. There’s no guessing. 
  • People never have to wonder what you’re thinking, what you really mean, or whether you’re being truthful when you commit to something. 
  • People believe you to be a person of your word. 

It Ain’t Easy 

If you’ve had trouble setting and enforcing healthy boundaries, and you have habits of behaviour that involve lack of assertiveness and honest expression of your thoughts and feelings, I’m not gonna lie; it won’t be easy to change those habits. Your threat radar/survival mode will tell you that it’s not safe to speak up for yourself and set boundaries. But I would ask you to try it. You can start slowly – not be ‘all or nothing’, just test the waters – with smaller things. Try saying no to something you don’t want to do. Then ask for feedback. Let people know you’re trying to change your ways and become a person with healthy boundaries. Ask them to help and support you. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!  

Keep Working at It 

Whether or not you’re already great at setting healthy boundaries, it is a lifelong project. I’m sure, as you develop your boundaries habits, you’ll notice how it is improving the trust atmosphere in your relationships, whether personal or professional. 

As always, I’m interested to hear from you with your thoughts on the relationship between boundaries and trust. 

And, of course, Stay on Point! 

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If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve set an intention for 2022 to up my leadership game to up my business game. So far, I have been focusing on the principles of leadership and the issue of trust. February has been trust month! Throughout this year, I’ll be tackling topics related to leadership and I encourage you to follow along. Each week there is a: 

  • Monday video about the thought or principle of the week on my social media feeds 
  • #Wednesdaywisdom quote related to the thought of the week on my social feeds 
  • Friday blog post and email  

I’m always interested in what you think so feel free to comment or ask questions. 

Check out the blogs at https://onpointwithdanielle.ca/blog/