Tag Archives: business conversation

Power up with Personal Boundaries

Setting, Communicating and Keeping your Personal Boundaries

This week we’ll be talking about setting your own personal boundaries, how to tell people politely but assertively what your boundaries are and how to stick to those boundaries for your personal health and ultimately the profitability of your company.

A boundary is another word for border.  So imagine a farm for a moment, surrounded by a big hedge. That is the farm’s boundary.  If you were to go over the boundaries of the farm you would be trespassing.

We can set our own personal boundaries, with our partners, clients, staff and suppliers for instance, so that we do not feel threatened, bullied or restricted.

Do you respect your own boundaries though? 


Limits only work when they are kept to,

flexibility weakens boundaries and ignoring your own boundaries, KILLS them. Click To Tweet


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So what are personal boundaries?

Personal boundaries are those guidelines, rules or limits that we create for ourselves to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards us. It also shapes the way that we respond when someone goes or tries to go past those limits.

We need to know, communicate and insist upon personal boundaries for the good of our health and business success

Most entrepreneurs are in business to help their ideal client to overcome a problem and so it is in our nature to want to do just that. But we all have personal standards, unique rules about how far people can go with us and we need to be clear about those, especially if you work from home.

Everyone has their own unique values, rules, procedures and preferences. Only you can know what you need.

Perhaps as entrepreneurs, we sometimes allow our personal boundaries to be abused because we all started small and there was a time when most of us were pretty desperate to get our businesses off the ground. It’s my guess that not setting and maintaining boundaries is just a bad habit we need to say goodbye to.
Starting today.

I want to help you set, communicate and uphold those boundaries. We can’t run a business successfully if we are spending 80% of our time doing free and cheap stuff and only 20% doing the profitable activities that solve the problems of our paying customers, after all that is what keeps them happy and coming back for more.

There are three main types of boundaries that you should set for yourself.

  • Financial Boundaries.
  • Time Boundaries
  • Communication Boundaries

Financial Boundaries

Being taken advantage of financially, makes you feel undervalued and not appreciated. Don’t let people push you into a corner where you are just breaking even.

Financial boundaries include for example what you give away for free and which of your services are paid services. You’re in this to make a profit honey!

You wouldn’t even work for a charity for free, would you?

In my case, I have a free blog, a newsletter that rolls my blogs into a lesson, and plenty of advice, tips and information on social media plus a free Facebook Page. That’s where people are invited to come in and find out a bit more about who I am, how I work and if I could be the right coach for you or consultant for your organisation.

Everything else is a paid for service. Simple.

Just like you, I have people wanting to ‘just’ pick my brains, but if they do that, I have learned to stick to my guns and point people to my free offerings, (the newsletter, blog and Facebook Page). If people have a question, I get them to post it on my facebook page. That way at least my gems of wisdom can help someone else too.

Some people are really persistent, but you have to hold your ground. Just keep repeating yourself as if you are not picking up on their hint for free help or a discount at all.

What about people that ask for a discount
Just say “No!”

People pay what they think something is worth. You do it too!

Let’s talk about clothes for a minute, any excuse hey?
Think about the last thing that you bought really cheaply. Perhaps it was a t shirt or a pair of shoes. Got it?

Now think about something you really had to be careful about buying, something more expensive, perhaps a gorgeous pair of boots (yes another) but ones that you just slip your toe in and feel amazing as you zip them up.

Which do you appreciate the most? For me and for most of us, the most expensive things are those that we value most. I love a bargain from time to time, but there’s nothing quite like treating yourself is there?

The more people invest financially, the more they are likely to invest in terms of commitment and support, meaning better results for them and a better reputation for you.

Waiting Workaround for Wimps

If you are a total wimp then make them wait. Most people are too impatient to wait so they find a workaround. So tell them

“ok but it won’t be until next week/month I am afraid, I’m just too busy right now, if it can wait that long then sure.”

It sends a clear signal that you put your clients first. Perhaps they’ll even want to be one of those treasured clients. it will certainly make them appreciate your time more and the chances are that they will found a workaround or wait.

If you have real problems charging what you are worth, then I can hand on heart recommend Denise Duffield-Thomas from LuckyBitch.com, here is one of her recent videos that in fact inspired me to write this post…

Time Boundaries

These can be a lot more subtle.


For instance, I used to have a client that used to wait until the very end of the session and mention an (of course very important) question.

Now if it was one off, then no big deal right? But this started happening most weeks. I was the newest freelance trainer on the block, so I was broke and inexperienced. I was also desperate to be liked and recommended and he probably knew that. (Do you remember those desperation vibes that you first used to give off, when you went solo?)

Now of course, if it was genuinely important, he would have mentioned it right at the beginning of the session, or even sent it to me in advance by email, (many of my clients do that, meaning that I can be perfectly prepared). That way we can really do their communication task justice by taking the time and focus, to tackle it professionally and thoroughly. After all,  I genuinely prefer it when my clients bring something from the day to day running of their business to work on, that ensures relevancy. But waiting until the very end of the session was disrespectful of my time and if you let clients continue like that, then you are accepting that lack of respect. If you do it for long enough, they will come to expect it and that could get really uncomfortable.

. It did. It was. But when I mentioned it, it didn’t create bad feelings, he turned out to be one of my most loyal and long standing clients. Phew.

Remember: You are the expert and you deserve to get paid for that expertise.EVEN IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO.

If they could do it themselves, you wouldn’t be there. Your talent is something they either cannot or don’t want to do.

So what do you say?

“Sorry, but there isn’t enough time left to cover that properly this time, we can certainly look at that in the next session” If they still insist (and some people are extraordinarily thick skinned) then invite them to sign up for a paid service. “Why not sign up for a power hour, I’ll send you the link”

Remember, saying yes to someone that isn’t prepared to pay, is in effect saying no to a paying customer or client or perhaps even to your children, hubby or SELF.

What about people calling out of hours? It is the same thing, set your working hours, put it on your website and then stick to them. Between you and I, you can be working, but you don’t need to be available out of hours. Be careful though, if you are engaging in social media during those times, you are abusing your own boundaries,  it makes the impression of you being ‘available/working”.

Schedule your posts strategically via Buffer or Hootsuite for instance and put those devices out of reach, so that you can unwind. We all need downtime and we owe it to our families and partners too.

Not even Obama, the former president of America, used to look at his phone until after breakfast! We all have a right to personal boundaries. Set, Tell & Protect

Communication Boundaries

We all deserve to be spoken to with respect, whether it is our children, our partner, our clients or our neighbours. You can be assertive and respectful, polite and direct.

Communication boundaries are about how people talk to you. So for example, here in Germany, you have to accept that there is a formal and informal way of speaking to people and there are rules about who you can address in which way.

Standing up for yourself, doesn’t mean that less people will like you but it does mean that more people will respect and appreciate you. Remember that when you do have time for them, what you do will be really helpful and supportive,  not a compromise.

The ranting client

If you have a slightly chaotic client who tends to lose his temper when he is running up against schedule, this could affect communication. Especially if they expect you to compensate for those organisational shortcomings. If they talk to you, or worse still, shout at you in a tone that makes you feel uncomfortable, anxious, taken for granted or reluctant to help him, STOP.

You need to tell them either immediately, if you feel that you can have an adult conversation with them at that moment in time, or wait until the dust has settled and schedule a meeting. Do it face to face if you can. Nobody has to accept being spoken to like that and this too is overstepping the mark in terms of your boundaries.

The customer is king, but you don’t have to spoken to like dirt.


Remember, you are the boss! Absolutely nobody has the right to speak to us in a way that makes us feel uncomfortable, even clients.


If you feel uncomfortable with other people swearing, say so.

If someone has slipped into the informal language that makes you feel on edge, mention it.

Why do you have to set, communicate and insist on these boundaries?

The chances are pretty high that people that push any or all of these boundaries, are the very people that zap our time, energy and patience. These are normally the clients that consume 80% of your time, then pay late or whinge about price increases. In contrast, the people that respect your professionalism will be happy to pay what you are worth. These wonderful clients are the ones that deserve your time and attention, not the trouble makers.

Those of you with children will be able to relate. Think about a situation when one child is acting up and getting all of the attention, and the other(s) are being good and yet ignored. We have all slipped into that, we’re cannot be great parents all of the time, we all have limits, but do you see? There are parallels.

Don’t let these barrier pushers dominate your time.

Let them go to the competition and abuse their personal boundaries instead. You don’t need people like that on your client list, so create your boundaries, communicate them and stick to them. You’ll feel less stressed, you’ll have more wonderful clients, you’ll love your business more and you’ll feel in control.


So in the Byte Sized English Bootcamp group on Facebook we’ll be talking about what your personal boundaries are, how to communicate them and how to keep to them when the going gets tough.

So what you need to ask yourself is not only what your boundaries should be, but why?

If someone pushes your boundaries, what are the implications for your productivity, your patience, time with family, availability to your own clients etc. So get really clear about why you need these boundaries. (Otherwise you just won’t keep to them!)

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Once you have subscribed….I’ll See you in the SECRET Byte Sized English Bootcamp, where those that are serious about improving their English will be carving out time to discuss the article above.



Business English Conversation from any Device

Have you noticed how this cooler autumn weather makes it is far less appealing to walk around the block mid afternoon – as our energy fades? I wanted to come up with a way that you could take a constructive break at work, one that would boost your English at the same time.

Take a brain break.

Sometimes your brain needs a break but it doesn’t mean that you should have a complete break, you can just switch to another activity. This helps you re-energise. Time to have a conversation, just switch into English.

Networking or Escaping?

You see, it is easy to head off to the coffee machine and linger as you chat with colleagues. Some of those conversations can be classed as informative or relationship building, but a lot of the time – it isn’t, is it? Not really.

I work from home and I often find myself on social media in that late afternoon energy lull and indeed a lot of Twitter Hours are held at that time. It seems I am not the only one.

Business English Conversation via social media.

I wanted to create a regular time and day for people in business or careers to practice their business English or business conversation skills from any device.

In contrast to in-house business communication or business conversation courses, where you are learning with collegaues and team members, I wanted to make it possible to learn from and with people from a wide range of different backgrounds. That makes any conversation richer and more meaningful. I wanted to welcome men and women from all over the world in different time zones, cultures, companies, industries and functions to be a part of this.

It's time to disrupt adult education. Try #BizEngChat to power up your business English. Click To Tweet

Now business conversation without ‘speaking’ or actually saying anything (unless you speak out loud as you type) might seem like an odd concept for some.


Let me explain. If you think about it, engaging in an online conversation or discussion requires you to activate your language learning skills. You’ll be searching for words or vocabulary, terms or phrases. You will be thinking about how to express yourself (grammar) and reading  lots of posts too. Just because you are not physically speaking, does not mean that a conversation isn’t taking place.

If you work with suppliers in India, it makes sense to invite those suppliers to join your online or blended learning business communication course, which worked well for us at #Heidenhain. It takes a special corporate culture and a strong leader to make that happen in reality across time zones.

Make language learning accessible and relevant, it’s not rocket science!

However if getting ‘bums on seats’ or attendance is a challenge and I can see heads nodding, and if time and flexibility are a problem, then a Twitter Hour could be a fabulously simple workaround. Just find one that is relevant to your needs, industry or market it’s practical too, you can take part even if you are travelling, via any smartphone or device.

If you want to work on your business conversation, try #BizEngChat

Set yourself a reminder, it's time to work on your Business English!
Set yourself a reminder, it’s time to work on your Business English!

So what about if you aren’t really on Twitter a lot or at all?

Well only you can decide which social media works best for you. As a former Twitterphobe though, I can assure you that Twitter is worth investing some time in. For me Twitter is like my professional learning playground because I can get inspiration and information, tips and advice from thought leaders and experts. It is the social land of brilliance to my mind. It took some time to ‘get my head around it’ or understand but I am really glad that I made the effort.

Just log in to www.twitter.com and search for #BizEngChat, the hashtag is the life blood of twitter, so don’t forget the funky # symbol.

Some regional or business Twitter Hours have an unstructured format, and are designed to be easy going, where everyone just shows up and chats, you’ll soon see that there is a fair bit of selling going on. I’m not appealed by that.

Teacher Coco
As a language trainer it is important for me to be able to shape the conversation and give you a vocabulary workout. Sure it WILL push you out of your comfort zone and it will get your brain working but isn’t that what success in our business or career always requires?

To really improve your English,  you need to activate or use your English.

Only by actually using your Business English, will your business conversation become more fluent and effective. If you are keen to improve, but don’t have time for classes, then grab your diary.

Set yourself an alarm, online training sessions tend to get overlooked as an appointment. If you are committed to improving your Business English, you should commit to coming regularly. Make it an appointment that is fixed and a part of your commitment to your personal development
Set yourself an alarm, online trainings tend to get overlooked as an appointment. If you are committed to improving your Business English, you should commit to coming regularly. Make it an appointment that is fixed and a part of your commitment to your personal development

After all, someone with your expertise, should be able to talk about their knowledge and experience in English so that you can expand your network and ultimately cross borders, taking your brand to the markets that need it most?

So Thursdays at 3pm is when we meet and I will be trying to get an expert to join us each time, to provide their opinions, examples, lessons learned and much more. If you are an expert in marketing or communication and you want to practice talking about it in English then get in touch.

Women are often doing the school run at some time between 3 and 4pm, but if you can join us even for 10 minutes, that is fine too.
Women are often doing the school run at some time between 3 and 4pm, but if you can join us even for 10 minutes, that is fine too.

But between 3 and 4pm is a bad time for me!

If you can’t make it because you are in a meeting or picking up the children or something, then no problem. You can join us at any time during the hour, it isn’t frowned upon to turn up ‘late’ at all, in fact nobody will really notice.

Often there are more people ‘following’ the conversation than contributing to the discussion anyway. We call these lurkers in the online learning industry but it is fine to do just that at the beginning, it’s like observing from a distance at a networking event. Of course the more you get involved or post, the more practice you get.

After Party

If you can’t make it until after the Twitter Hour then you will be able to read the whole conversation afterwards, just search for #BizEngChat. It is easy to catch up on the conversation later, (less stressful too sometimes). Feel free to add your comments later and the chances are that you will meet other people that would be interesting for you to connect with, so it is a combinination of English conversation and networking. That’s effective time management I say.

What about if I make a mistake?

I can identify with this one, my German is fairly good if I am talking to you in person, but when it comes to writing, I feel like a little girl again, all knotted up with apprehension and fear or making a mistake.

But I ask myself this?
What is the worst that can happen?

If you have something of value to say, people will be more interested in what you have to say than how you said it. In an ideal world we would wait until our foreign language was perfect before we engaged in social media, but what is perfection anyway?

Those of you in business or with a family will know that there is no such thing as the perfect time to do or start anything! Sometimes you just have to start and from there it can only get better – especially if your host is a language trainer.

I will never draw attention to any mistakes via #BizEngChat like they did at school, but those of you working with me will see that I incorporate any of those mistakes into our coaching.

One thing is for sure, I will be there on Thursday at 3pm and I would love you to join me, let’s revolutionise the way that business conversation is ‘taught’.

Let’s learn together via #BizEngChat so that we can get it right when it counts!