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Setting high standards in relationships

We underestimate the amount of disagreement that is acceptable in a relationship. We tend to see only the happier side of our friends and assume that our own marriage or relationship isn’t working because we can’t agree on simple things.

Conflicts can be productive, creating deeper understanding, closeness and respect, or they can be destructive, causing resentment, hostility and separation. How the conflicts get resolved, not how many occur, is the critical factor in determining whether a relationship will be healthy or unhealthy, mutually satisfying or unsatisfying, friendly or unfriendly, deep or shallow, intimate or cold.

A first step towards improving your personal and professional relationships is listing your boundaries and making them known. Our boundaries are limits defining how we expect others to treat us and in particular, which behaviors we will not accept. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Setting new boundaries often requires that you re-educate those around you. In the past, you essentially ‘conditioned' people to treat you in the way they currently do by allowing it without protest. By not objecting to unwanted behavior such as yelling or making rude remarks, you let others know that you accept this kind of behaviour.

The power is in the calm and neutral tone of voice. You’ll find that by using this communication tool of setting standards,  you will gain more respect. Without strong and clear boundaries, you will not get the respect you deserve. Without respect, you will not get the raises and promotions you deserve and will not have your emotional needs met in a personal relationship.

Strangely, we think we will annoy people by having clear boundaries, but it is in fact the opposite. We only respect the people who have boundaries and enforce them calmly.

If you don’t set boundaries or if they are weak or inadequate, people will take advantage of you and walk all over you. Yes, even nice people can’t help but walk on a doormat.There maybe a need to get approval and acceptance by accepting unfair behaviour but it is very taxing in the long run. This is true mostly in case of professional relationships. 

Boundaries are critical to your success both personally and professionally. The sooner you learn and enforce them, the sooner you’ll get the respect you want.

The other side of boundaries is standards—the conduct you hold yourself to. It doesn’t make much sense for you to have a boundary that people can’t make derogatory remarks about you if you abuse others in this way. By extending your own boundaries, you’ll be raising your standards too. They are two sides of the same coin.

You can choose your standards. For example: “I always honest.” “I never raise my voice.” “I always reach on time.” “I don’t give advice unless asked.” Choose the standards you are ready for and can sustain, not some imaginary ones that you think you “should” have. Make a list of people you admire. Write down their best qualities, and think about the standards of behavior they hold themselves to. Now write down the standards you’d like to adopt.

It may take a few times of ensuring you live upto your standards before people realize you are now punctual, but they will start taking you more seriously immediately.

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