Tag Archives: boundaries

Hard Won Learning

Many of us were taught that when there is a conflict or a problem we should talk about it, discuss it, resolve it, right?  And one thing I have learned the hard way over the years is that there are some times when that just doesn’t work!

Recently I have had a couple of clients who are learning that too.  It’s a hard habit to break—for many of us it ‘goes against the grain‘ to not actually untangle the knot and examine it!  And yet I am fixin’ to bring up the idea that there are times when it’s neither smart nor effective to bare your soul.

Like most things in life it’s about balance, safety and boundaries.  And it’s also very much about who you are dealing with, and their perspective.

Actually one of the things I do as a coach is try to help people explore what is behind their habits and beliefs—to dig deeper and expose the thought processes and obstacles.  And we do that in a confidential, safe place.  In this instance we are both coming from the place of untangling the knot for the sake of the client.

However their are people in our lives that don’t come from that perspective.  Some may put their own agenda before yours.  Some may actually use the information you give them to hurt or manipulate you.

Unfortunately we all find that out the hard way: we expose some vulnerability and then experience the pain of being hurt by the other person using that information in a negative way.

Truly, I do wish—for all of us—that people would stop doing that. Stop lashing out! And when others lash out it is beyond our control, right? So the thing we need to do is learn to stop giving those that hurt us more ammunition.  And we do that by not sharing the things we have been taught to share with those who will use that information in a negative way!

In essence by “opening the kimono” we share our vulnerability.  It’s a wonderful way to share and create intimacy.  People who are both in the same place of caring and respect in a relationship honor that place.  People who aren’t in that same place, or are compromised by  life-long habits of confrontation and other challenging circumstances, will use your vulnerability against you.

You can’t change that.  You can’t change them.  Sacrificing yourself by continuing to give them more ammo won’t help anyone.

Give some more thought to what to share, and with whom.  Recognize that you really aren’t required to bare your inner thoughts to everyone.  And as the song goes:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run!


Shell Tain, The Untangler

I’m happy to help you sort through who to ‘bare your soul’ to and who to ‘keep it under wraps’ with, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.


Collection Calls

You don’t actually need the Big Guns when you make collection calls.  What you need are good boundaries.

The first step to making a collection call is to get clear on what your role is, and what it isn’t.

Here are some of those things that collection calls are not about, but that people often think, or at least act like, they are:

It isn’t about making the person who hasn’t paid you feel bad about not having paid you.  They probably have done that all on their own.  Your pushing and poking around that will only make the situation worse.  They are likely to get defensive and/or angry.  And neither of those will help.  And the person is really more likely to avoid you, to avoid your calls and ultimately, to avoid paying you.

It isn’t about you trying to help them figure out how to pay you.  That is a definite Money Trap.  First, no matter what idea you have, it’s likely that they will find a way that it collectionswon’t work.  All of a sudden you are in the awkward conversation that is frustrating and unproductive, and oh, by the way, completely off topic.  The true topic is they need to pay you, not how they are going to do it.  And that leads to the second problem with trying to help.  When you try to help, you take them away from making the commitment to pay.  It becomes your idea, not theirs.  They aren’t invested in it, and aren’t likely to actually follow through with it.

So what is the call about?  It’s about, to borrow a philosophy from the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, being “calm and assertive”.  What helps you get there?  Long ago, in the 80’s, I had a friend and colleague that used to wear her real pearl necklace on the days she had to do collections.  (To those of you who don’t remember the days when pearl necklaces where both cool and status, think of it as wearing the designer shoes of today!)  The pearls helped her feel calm and assertive.  They helped her set the tone.

With all that prep, let me give you the ‘skinny’.  There is only ONE thing you need to say when making a collection call:  “When can I expect payment?”  That’s it, just that.  If they start doing into the big long story of why they can’t pay,  how the dog ate the bill, their mother-in-law stole their money, or they were recently run over by a truck you say: “Wow, that’s really too bad.  When can I expect payment?”

You don’t engage in the figuring, you don’t offer solutions, you just stay calm and assertive, and you are consistent about it.  And then you wait for them to make a commitment.

If they say “I don’t know when I can pay you” you calmly say, “I need a commitment that you will keep”.   If they propose a payment plan, you can accept, reject or revise it.  Just don’t you propose it.  Maintain your boundaries.

So keep it calm, assertive and simple:  “When can I expect payment”.   Write it on your desktop, or your hand.  Use it.  It’s all you need.