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One of the most enlightening concepts used to explain respect for boundaries is also an amazing tool that can be used when communicating in a conscious way. I heard of this one while subscribed to the website.

The concept works like this:

Imagine someone comes over to your house, opens the door without knocking, decides to use your things without asking, breaks a window, leaves a mess and maybe even forgets to lock the door once they leave again.

How would you feel? Not so happy, right?

Your house is your personal territory. A physical boundary has been crossed so it’s natural to feel the need to defend it.

Here in Italy, when we go to someones house, we say: “Permesso?” We literally ask permission even after we have been invited inside.

The concept of this boundary is clear.

Because it’s physical, it’s easier to understand why it’s not OK for someone to do those things without your permission.

Although it’s not as clear, the same goes for when we communicate with others. If we tell them what we know they are feeling, thinking or doing, it is the same as if we walked into their house and invade their territory.

No matter how sure we might be, it’s still an assumption until the moment that person can confirm with their own words what they are thinking, doing or feeling.


There’s like an invisible territory surrounding each of us called boundaries. Boundaries can be physical (like where you’re allowed to touch me) or psychological (like how I accept being treated by a certain person). When we are conscious and respectful of each other’s boundaries we can achieve the actual purpose of communicating- with that person- in that exact moment.

The goal when communicating anything is making sure there is flow of information. I tell you something so you can know, understand and maybe do or say something in return.

When you tell your listener what you think he or she thinks, feels, is doing or should do, you undermine communication. In response, they can automatically feel defensive, because their territory has been crossed.

How do you not cross someone’s territory when communicating?

ASK them about them. TELL them about you.

This is the best way to assure communication flow.

Which is the goal after all…

Instead of- “You must be hungry” -try – “I’m hungry. What about you?”


How and What questions lead to understanding more thoroughly the thoughts, feelings and needs of the other person in the conversation, making you better equip to make decisions based on the information exchanged in that conversation. These questions convey that you are interested and invite them to share information only they can confirm.

If I say: “You press the snooze button every morning, it’s so annoying. You don’t even care how much it bothers me.”

These are all assumptions. I have determined THAT YOU press the snooze button too often, decided THAT YOU do it every day and I find it annoying. I have also determined THAT YOU don’t care how much it bothers me.

I have literally no confirmation that what I have determined is true, that you even know it bothers me, or how you really feel or think about it. I just decided that you are doing and feeling these things. And while I was at it… I jumped into your house and broke a window.

What do you think will be the listeners reaction? I can assure you that the purpose of communicating this went straight out the window.

It’s safe to say that your message didn’t resolve anything. You didn’t inform the listener of anything that they didn’t already know. A solution was not discussed.

You just told them what they are doing and how they feel. Period.

How about this instead: ” I can’t sleep well when you press the snooze button. Are you having trouble waking up in the mornings? I would like to find a solution so that it doesn’t feel so annoying to me. How do you feel about that?

It’s definitely more probable that you and the listener can find a solution together. And before a solution is even reached you’ve achieved a crucial part of your goal.

The exchange of information.

You’ve informed them about how this action affects you and that you would like a solution. There are no doubts now….

So to sum things up…

Communicate consciously by being aware of what you feel, need and want and directly expressing it without assuming anything about the other person. That’s their job.


There’s something else… Don’t use the word we when talking about any group you belong to. You can never be one hundred percent sure that the entire group thinks, feels and wants exactly what you’re communicating.

This can happen even if you’re talking about a couple. Although it might seem innocent, it actually works the same as the examples above.

“We hate eating pasta”

“We admire your work”

“We like going out with other couples”

How can you be absolutely sure that the other person (or people) feel exactly what you’re expressing? YOU CAN’T.

and even if you did know, because maybe they told you… You are speaking for someone else. That is their right and an invasion of healthy boundaries. You are entering in their home with the intention to leave them flowers but they aren’t the kind of flowers that person likes- and you didn’t have their permission to enter anyway.

It’s best to speak for yourself and ask about the other.

We- is fine if you are talking about shared actions. For example when describing something the two of you have done, are doing, or will do together. The concept is the same with larger groups as well.

Using we refers to observable actions. When you are referring to thoughts or feelings, however, we obscures the very important boundaries and doesn’t offer respect for each others territory.

“I don’t like eating pasta. What about you Marco?” or if Marco isn’t present “I don’t like eating pasta. We don’t eat it very often”

“I admire your work. We talk about you often”

“I like going out with other couples. We do it weekly”

For those of you taking notes…

Remember: don’t undermine communication by crossing those invisible boundaries, know your thoughts, feelings and preferences so you can express them directly and don’t talk about the other… just ask them. The best questions that enable you to learn enough information in any situation are “how” and what”.

Communicating consciously isn’t always easy but it makes a world of difference. The trick is to be aware of yourself and your reactions.

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