"You have to learn...that a small no is a big yes."

July 31, 2018

Wow. She had you at 'hello,' right? That's a strong statement and it might only apply to women. When men say no, people take it as a 'No.' Not always the case with women.

Tracee Ellis Ross is on the cover of Elle Canada talking about things like setting boundaries, her looks and, of course, her famous mother (the legendary Diana Ross). She strikes me as a glass half full kind of person who's cup is always brimming over with youthful exuberance. It seems like she looks at most things with a positivity filter, yet not at all Pollyanna-ish. And her comments on setting boundaries might be the stuff you've been looking for.

“You have to learn. That a small no is a big yes. How to have the courage to say what you mean and mean what you say. To have boundaries without hacking up a relationship. Boundaries can be bridges; they don’t have to equal excavating someone from your life. I’ve learned how to do that from friends and mentors, from having conversations, from having a willingness to share my discomfort, my shame and my fear and from making mistakes." 

Boundary setting is a hot button issue for lots of women and most of us feel like we don't do the best job at giving ourselves the time and space we need, even deserve. That's one of the reasons I love her language here. Tracee is talking about communicating clearly so there's no ambiguity and it takes practice.

Before they let me talk on the radio, I worked in Human Resources and whenever I had a chat with an empoyee who was close to being fired I was taught to begin with "This isn't working." Simple and effective. Everyone immediately understands what's at stake and gets focused.

But maybe as a woman you take on more than is comfortable because you're worried about hurting someone's feelings or you're afraid the boss will think you can't handle the job. Not true. Boundaries can be bridges. Don't you think she's onto something there. Communicating your boundaries clearly can only be good for you. So if you're struggling, try talking it out with yourself until it feels natural. Then begin that conversation with this isn't working and you'll have a captive audience.