Manners & personal boundaries – establishing the balance with confidence

Manners & Personal Boundaries - Establishing the Balance with Confidence

Two of the most common questions I am asked during my classes are 'how can I remain well mannered when someone is being rude? Is it okay to say no to someone?'

In order to handle awkward scenarios and not feel pressurised we must have confidence in setting our personal boundaries.

So, what are personal boundaries and how can we establish them with confidence?


The definition of personal boundaries is as follows:

'Guidelines, rules and limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits'

Ambiguous? Certainly, and everyone's personal boundaries are different, for some they are based on religion and for others it is developed by listening to their intuition.

However, regardless of how you define yours, being well mannered does not mean you have to put up with others being rude or disrespectful to you or anyone else. 

Here are three common scenarios along with my advice on how to respond:

  • You receive an invitation to an event which you cannot make or perhaps you just don't want to. Simply thank the person for their kind invitation and say that unfortunately you cannot attend on this occasion. You do not need to provide an explanation.
  • You are party to some gossip about someone which could potentially be damaging to them and others. Simply say that you would rather not know the details.
  • You are asked a personal question which you do not wish to answer. A suitable response is "Oh, that's a conversation for another time', said with a big smile and then change the subject to something you are willing to chat about.