Have you ever felt like people are getting on your last nerve? In one of his most famous poems, "Mending Wall," Robert Frost wrote, "Good fences make good neighbors." Frost's line suggests how essential it is for you to set firm boundaries with others, both personally and professionally, if you want to be successful.

Boundaries are integral to your success because they demonstrate how much you value yourself and how much you value others. In business, boundaries take the form of contracts, cancellation policies, customer care standards, written releases, invoices, mission and vision statements, etc. They solidify what you will and will not do and make the business agreement clear to both parties so the risk of confusion and conflict is minimized.

In your personal life, you can establish healthy boundaries by expressing when you feel hurt, taking responsibility for your feelings, reserving time just for yourself, and letting your family know when you are overwhelmed and need a helping hand (and maybe a leg and foot too!). A boundary doesn't keep other people out; it simply clarifies who you are in a relationship and helps you articulate your needs, expectations, and responsibilities.

Let me give you an example. In my coaching practice, I require twenty-four hours notice by phone if a client needs to reschedule or they are expected to pay in full for their session. To make sure they understand the policy and agree to it, I have clients sign an intake and policy form when we first start working together. Then down the road if they haven't given me the required amount of notice and say they don't recall the policy, all I have to do is whip out their signed form and read it to them or fax it to them. I don't have to be the "bad guy" because the policy states our agreement clearly and concisely.

Without that policy, I would surely have lots of no-shows. This would affect my income as well as my attitude towards the client. (There's nothing worse than being psyched to do a session with someone and they don't show; you feel as if your work isn't valued plus you feel bad because you turned someone else away for that appointment time.)

When we have clear boundaries, both parties benefit and misunderstandings ("missed understandings") can be avoided or transformed into something positive. Success in personal and professional communication comes from having clearly defined limits to which we adhere with integrity. (Remember this the next time you feel like a hard a*s for enforcing one of your business policies--Boundaries are there to help you stay true to your standards and principles and to prevent resentments from piling up.)

Let's also remember that the boundaries we've established can be relaxed if the outcome will be beneficial for all. Good fences make good neighbors but only when we leave a gate open, communicating responsibly and respectfully with the goal of creating strong relationships that ensure success for everyone involved.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Barnsley Brown is a professional speaker and coach who loves helping busy professionals create balance and prosperity. Want to have 2+ more hours every day for who and what you love? Find out how with Dr. Brown's fun, info-packed report, "How to Overcome Overwhelm in Seven Easy Steps" at