Boundaries & Expectations Exercises

Man holding newspaper looking at woman on sofa using laptop

Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Boundaries or setting limits are an important component for your safety; think of the benefits of setting boundaries for children- when you tell your child to wait and look before crossing the street, this is an example of a boundary. In general, a boundary informs you as to what is acceptable and what is not. Expectations are often implied in boundaries, particularly emotional boundaries. As you have different expectations than, for example -- your spouse, clarifying expectations are an important part of any relationship.

Prerequisites for Boundary and Expectation Exercises

In order to clarify and resolve issues regarding boundaries and expectations, you must first recognize that a problem exists, be willing to address the problem, be responsible for your part in the problem, be willing to acknowledge any consequences of your actions, and hold the perspective that it is worth your while to do so, according to Recharge Relationships.

Active Listening

Listening and hearing what someone is genuinely expressing are two different things. A basic starting point for expressing your boundaries and expectations successfully is active listening. Find a comfortable location for both parties. Agree on who will speak first. Allow that person to speak and then repeat back what you think has been said. Ask the speaker if that is correct. If the speaker says no, repeat this step. If yes, switch and have the speaker become the listener.

Questions for Understanding Another's Boundaries and Expectations

Recharge Relationships suggests several questions you can use as an exercise for understanding someone that you are in A relationship with. Practice asking each question and then answering each question; I expect you to..., I do not agree with your expectations because.... After the above exercise, describe how you would like your needs to be met to the other person.

Cultures and Boundaries

Different cultures have different perspectives on boundaries. Some cultures regard eye contact while speaking or speaking directly as normative while others view it as disrespectful. When you are communicating with another you must factor any cultural differences into the interaction. This can be done by asking how the other person regards what has occurred between you, explaining your perspective, and negotiating what might be amicable for both of you.