Boundaries: Giving Context Without Convincing

“Hey, would you do this for me?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t think… well, maybe. Let me try. Can I tell you later?”


“I really want to help but I’m stuck at work and my kid forgot his lunch and…”

If you didn’t want to do it in the first place, why not just say it?

I’ve been pretty bad at this. At work. In relationships. With strangers.

Terrie Cole is a psychotherapist, business negotiator, author, and all-around badass. Part of her approach to giving an answer you can stick to, i.e. having and enforcing a boundary, is to state the answer and then give context without convincing.

“Hey, would you do this for me?”

“I can’t. I have too much going on. I would if I could in this case, please feel free to ask me next time.”

Clear. With context. Without convincing yourself or the other person there’s any way over, around, or through it.

Ps. I just discovered Terri Cole on the Daily Stoic podcast. She’s got a book I’ll be checking out too, “Boundary Boss.”