Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind. – Brene Brown
I first heard this quote listening to Brene Brown read her audiobook “Dare to Lead.” I was painting my son’s room and had to set down my brush to rewind and listen again. I can’t say why this so quickly grabbed my attention, but I felt like she was speaking directly to me! It’s in my genes to be unclear when something might hurt someone’s feelings or disappoint someone. And not only is this quality in me by nature, it’s also been nurtured into me by a family of Midwesterners.
In the past if being clear meant someone may not like what I have to say, I would’ve rather been unclear and avoided confrontation. SO rude of me. I have worked on this over the years by standing up for myself and setting boundaries, but I’m not going to lie, it is not at all natural for me.
When you are a people pleaser, your boundaries are far and wide and the ones you do have may easily topple with someone’s sidelong glance or even just an assumed expectation. Building a fortress of strong-walled boundaries has taken years to construct and more blood, sweat, and tears than I ever expected.
The only reason I began to build that foundation of boundaries was because I felt it was necessary for my kids during my divorce. I don’t think I could’ve even started if it would’ve been for me alone. But once I experienced the value of boundaries, for everyone involved, I couldn’t argue their importance. Which led to the slow addition, sometimes brick by brick, to the sturdy frame of the stronghold around me.
When I heard this quote about clarity, the idea of limits and barriers to things like my time, energy, love, etc, really have become more about other people than about me. I see now how being unclear is indeed unkind. If I let someone take advantage of me and then become resentful it hurts them. If I am not clear on an expectation with someone but then am upset when the expectation isn’t met, it hurts them. Which has helped make boundary setting easier. I do better when ideas and concepts aren’t about me.
Being clear AND Minnesota nice means to set boundaries I must choose words more carefully. It means I consider how things affect all parties, even the indirect ones (my kids if I’ve given up time for example). It means I don’t backtrack once the boundary is set. It means I give an explanation that is short and to the point without defending my right for the boundary.
It does not mean I am rude or mean. It does not mean I say no to everything. It does not mean it’s all about me. Just to be clear. See what I did there?!
Choosing and working to set boundaries has been one of the most impactful things I have ever done in my life. I believe everyone benefits, even if they may not see it at the time. There is no confusion with boundaries, there is no doubt. Practice being kind with those around you, get very clear with where you stand. It’s not only the right thing to do, but is an absolute must for a more peaceful life.