Are You Good at Asking for What You Need? Learning from the Masters of Boundaries

 In Communication, Relationships

I’m super excited to share an excerpt of a blog from Darcy Luoma, a dear friend and amazing speaker, master coach, and facilitator. You can find the full blog here. Enjoy!

I have one teenager and one tweenager, so I am no stranger to my kids setting boundaries. They tell me to walk ten feet behind them or to not ask any questions when I meet their new friend. Apparently, moms are still as embarrassing as they were when I was 13.

But the other day my team member Jill told me a story that really helped me appreciate just how good kids are at setting boundaries. It got me wondering when and why we stop.

No waving, please

Jill was going to watch a friend’s 10-year-old son Ben sing in his choir concert. When she got there, Ben already had quite the cheering section, including his immediate family, his grandparents, and now Jill. As soon as she sat down, his little sister Violet said, “Ben has rules.”

And so he did.

A whole list of rules, which he had dictated to Violet and she had carefully written on a paper towel, outlining exactly what was and wasn’t allowed. Turns out there was not any cheering allowed for this cheering section!

Here are the rules:

  • No hugs
  • No kissing
  • No shout
  • Yes clap
  • No big waves

Did you get all that? As tempted as the adults were to shout his name and wave with excitement, they obeyed all his rules and put their energy into clapping as enthusiastically as possible.

Tell me what you want

Little kids boss us around all the time telling us what they want. Mine! Don’t touch! Get out of my room! Leave me alone!

And while they could stand to work on their delivery, it is kind of refreshing to know exactly where you stand. So why do we stop doing that? 

Although rules about when and how to clap might not work, what about setting and communicating acceptable boundaries? For example, could you let people know if it is okay to interrupt you to ask questions, or if you prefer they wait until the end? If you do tell them, they will probably do what you ask and everyone will feel fine.

Ben was lucky to have his sister there in the audience, ready to share all of his rules. But as adults, we’re probably going to have to set our own boundaries. I am here to encourage you to be brave! Tell people what you want, and you can avoid a lot of potential miscommunication, resentment, or embarrassment.

You can be nice about it, and hopefully, people will respect where you draw the line. It’s important that boundaries are clear, and it’s okay to remind people if they aren’t respecting yours.


Darcy Luoma Coaching & Consulting (DLCC) focuses on creating high-performing people and teams through coaching, speaking, and consulting. 

Recommended Posts
Working with difficult people - The Positive Edgeshared gratitude - The Positive Edge