Boundaries Face to Face: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding

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A practical handbook on positive confrontation by the authors of the award-winning and best-selling Boundaries.

Successful people confront well. They know that setting healthy boundaries improves relationships. They have discovered that uncomfortable—even dangerous—situations can often be avoided or resolved through direct conversation. But most of us don't know how to go about having difficult conversations. We see confrontation as scary or adversarial. We're afraid to ask a ...

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How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding: With Your Spouse, Adult Child, Family, Boss, Coworker, Friend, Parent or Someone You're Dating

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Overview

A practical handbook on positive confrontation by the authors of the award-winning and best-selling Boundaries.

Successful people confront well. They know that setting healthy boundaries improves relationships. They have discovered that uncomfortable—even dangerous—situations can often be avoided or resolved through direct conversation. But most of us don't know how to go about having difficult conversations. We see confrontation as scary or adversarial. We're afraid to ask a boss for a raise or talk to a relative about a drinking problem, or even address a relational conflict with a spouse or someone we are dating.

In Boundaries Face to Face authors Cloud and Townsend take the principles from their best-selling book Boundaries and apply them to a variety of the most common difficult situations and relationships.

* Explains why confrontation is essential in all arenas of life
* Shows how healthy confrontation can improve relationships
* Presents the essentials of a good boundary-setting conversation
* Provides tips on how to prepare for the conversation
* Shows how to tell people what you want, how to stop bad behavior, and how to deal with counterattack
* Gives actual examples of conversations to have with your spouse, your date, your kids, your coworker, your boss, your parents, and more

From the Book

Sometimes people get confused in a confrontation because the other person gets them off track. If that happens, remember this formula.

Empathize with their feelings or position, and return to your issue.

Here's an example.

Joe: 'I can't believe you were offended by my comments. You joke around more than anyone here. That's pretty hypocritical.'

You: 'I understand it's hard for you to see, and I'm glad you meant it as a joke and weren't trying to be hurtful. What I'm telling you, though, and what I don't want you to miss, is how it affected me. It hurt me and I don't want to be talked to like that.'

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310221524
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Henry Cloud is a popular speaker, and co-host, with Dr. John Townsend, of the nationally broadcast New Life Live! Radio program, and cofounder of Cloud-Townsend Clinic and Cloud-Townsend Resources. His bestselling books include the Gold Medallion Award-winning Boundaries books and Making Small Groups Work. Dr. Cloud and his wife and two daughters live in Southern California. El Dr. Henry Cloud es un conferenciante de gran popularidad. Con el Dr. John Townsend es anfitrion del programa de radio New Life Live!, ademas de ambos ser fundadores de la Clinica Cloud-Townsend y de la organizacion Cloud-Townsend Resources. Es el autor de varios libros premiados con el reconocimiento Medalla de Oro, entre ellos 'Limites' y 'El poder transformador de los grupos pequenos'. El Dr. Cloud, su esposa y sus dos hijas radican en el Sur de California.

Dr. John Townsend is a psychologist, popular speaker, and cohost of the nationally broadcast New Life Live! Radio program, and a cofounder of Cloud-Townsend clinic and Cloud-Townsend Resources. His best-selling books include the Gold Medallion Award-winning Boundaries.

Website: www.drtownsend.com Blog: facebook.com/drjohntownsend

Dr. John Townsend — El Dr. John Townsend es un popular conferencista y un famosisimo autor de exito de ventas. Es graduado de psicologia clinica en Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology de Biola University. Ademas es coautor de numerosos libros incluyendo el ganador de la Medalla de Oro Limites. el es coanfitrion del programa radial emitido a nivel nacional New Life Live!

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Read an Excerpt

Boundaries Face to Face

How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding
By Henry Cloud John Townsend

Zondervan

Copyright © 2003 Henry Cloud and John Townsend
All right reserved.


Chapter One

The Talk Can Change Your Life

As we speak around the country at conferences on relationships, we will often hear some version of the following story.

A man will come up and say, "Thanks for your materials on setting limits and boundaries. They have changed my life and my marriage."

We will say, "Thank you, too. So what book did you read?"

"I didn't read a book," the man will say. "My wife did!"

He will go on to explain: "I was a crummy communicator with my wife. I controlled her, I had some bad habits, and I had no spiritual life to speak of. Then she read Boundaries, and she started applying the principles. That's when things started changing for both of us. It took some time and effort, but I'm really different now. We are closer, and we have more respect for each other and more freedom in the relationship. I'm doing a lot better with those bad habits, and I'm waking up to my relationship with God."

You would normally expect someone to talk about a book he has actually read. However, this man's unexpected response illustrates a reality: The person who has the problem in a relationship often isn't taking responsibility for his problem. This was bad news for the man's wife. She wanted to see change, but he either didn't see a problem, thought it wasn't a big issue, or thought his wife was overreacting. This can leave the wife who cares for her husband feeling helpless, discouraged, and less able to feel love in her heart for him.

You Can Change the Relationship Alone

But there is good news. Though the person with the problem may not be taking responsibility for, or "owning," the problem, the person affected by the problem can change things. You may be the motivated one, the one who is concerned, sees the problem, and feels discomfort from it, whether it be a bad attitude or a bad behavior. In fact, you may be feeling more pain and discomfort than the other person. In our example, the wife, before confronting her husband, most likely had to deal with isolation, lack of freedom, his bad habits, and the emptiness of not having a spiritual partner.

Things can change when the person experiencing the effects of the problem takes the initiative to resolve it. This wife took the first step. She became aware that her husband's ways weren't good for either of them and that nothing would change unless she did something herself.

That first step is often a conversation, a talk, a face-to-face confrontation with the other person. It is a conversation in which the two people discuss the problem and what can be done about it. It is a talk of truth. That single conversation may be all that's needed. But more likely, it will be the beginning of a series of conversations and events, as it was with the marriage in our example.

We want to affirm and validate your decision to have "the conversation you have been avoiding." How to have that conversation is the core need this book addresses. You need a caring yet honest and effective way to confront someone in your life. The Bible teaches-and research supports the idea-that you can develop the skills and tools to be able to confront well.

What Is a Boundary?

Before we go further, however, we need to define a term that will come up a lot in this book: boundary.

Simply put, a boundary is your personal "property line." It defines who you are, where you end, and where others begin. It refers to the truth, to reality, to what is. When you confront someone about a problem, you are setting a boundary. You can set a boundary with your words when you are honest and when you establish a consequence for another's hurtful actions.

Boundaries help define who we are in our relationships. When we know what we want and do not want, what we are for and against, what we love and hate, what is "me" and what is "not me," we are setting boundaries. People with good boundaries are clear about their opinions, beliefs, and attitudes-in the way that Jesus taught: "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one" (Matt. 5:37). People without clear boundaries are unsure of their opinions, feelings, and beliefs. They find themselves easily controlled by the demands of others because they feel unsure of themselves when they need to take a stand.

Boundaries also help protect us from injury and harm. By setting boundaries we can take responsibility for the lives and gifts God has given us: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Prov. 4:23). Boundaries protect our values, feelings, time, energy, and attitudes. When a person says to another, "I want you to stop criticizing me in public," he is setting a protective boundary.

God himself has boundaries. He designed them and lives them out. He is clear on who he is, what he is for, and what he is against. He is for relationship, truth, love, and honesty, and he is against oppression, injustice, sin, and evil: "For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity" (Isa. 61:8). (For more information on boundaries, please refer to our books Boundaries, Boundaries in Marriage, Boundaries with Kids, and Boundaries in Dating.)

In this book we deal with one specific aspect of boundaries: We tell you how to set them by having a helpful and effective "talk" with another person. We will sometimes refer to that confrontation as a boundary conversation, that is, a talk with someone in which you confront a problem you want to resolve with the person.

Having "the Talk"

The last time someone said to you, "I need to talk to you," how did that strike you? Did you think, Maybe she needs to tell me how much she appreciates me. More likely you thought, I'm in trouble. When we consider having "the talk" with someone, it may create much anxiety and throw up many red flags. It may signal conflict, criticism, and even the end of the relationship.

Many of us live in two worlds when it comes to relationships. In one world we have friendly conversations in which we avoid all disagreements; in the other we have major conflict-type conversations that tear everybody and everything up. In the first world we have connection without truth, and in the second we have truth without connection.

God did not design us to live in these two worlds, having these two types of relationships. He wants us to live in the one world, where he lives and where truth and love coexist as allies, not adversaries. Our connections are best when they are truthful, and our truth is best when we are connected. The Bible calls this truth in love: "Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ" (Eph. 4:15). Conversations work best when people both care for each other and tell the truth to each other. Good things happen. People get along, resolve issues, and still maintain the connection they need.

When people have had enough bad experiences in relationships, they begin avoiding conflict and confrontation altogether. They withdraw from truthful conversations. They fear the following things:

Losing the relationship: They fear that the person will withdraw either emotionally or physically from them.

Being the object of anger: They don't want to receive someone's rage or blame about being confronted.

Being hurtful: They are concerned about wounding the person and hurting their feelings.

Being perceived as bad: They want to be seen as a nice person, and they fear they will be seen as unloving and unkind.

These fears often prevent people from sitting down and having the necessary talks that would solve problems. If you identify with any of these fears, it would be worth your while to learn where they come from and how to resolve them. We don't have space to go into that topic now, but our book Boundaries is a good source for this information.

Right now we want to talk more about the major benefits of confronting others with whom you have a problem. Becoming aware of the benefits and advantages of a loving and balanced conversation will help you to get past the fear and have that talk. That is the goal of the next chapter.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Boundaries Face to Face by Henry Cloud John Townsend Copyright © 2003 by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents Why Another Boundaries Book?...9
PART I Why You Need to Have That Difficult Conversation Chapter 1 The Talk Can Change Your Life...15
Chapter 2 The Benefits of a Good Conversation...20
PART II The Essentials of a Good Conversation Chapter 3 Be Emotionally Present...33
Chapter 4 Be Clear about 'You' and 'I'...36
Chapter 5 Clarify the Problem...39
Chapter 6 Balance Grace and Truth...42
Chapter 7 Stay on Task...45
Chapter 8 Use the Formula, When You Do 'A,' I Feel 'B'...49
Chapter 9 Affirm and Validate...52
Chapter 10 Apologize for Your Part in the Problem...57
Chapter 11 Avoid 'Shoulds'...60
Chapter 12 Be an Agent for Change...64
Chapter 13 Be Specific...67
Chapter 14 Differentiate between Forgiving and Trusting...71
PART III Seeing How It's Done Chapter 15 Telling People What You Want...77
Chapter 16 Making Someone Aware of a Problem...97
Chapter 17 Stopping a Behavior...118
Chapter 18 Dealing with Blame, Counterattack,
and Other Problems...146
PART IV Getting Yourself Ready to Have the Conversation Chapter 19 Why You Need to Be Ready...169
Chapter 20 How to Get Ready...174
PART V Having the Difficult Conversation with People in Your Life Chapter 21 With Your Spouse...191
Chapter 22 With Someone You're Dating...202
Chapter 23 With Your Child...214
Chapter 24 With Your Parent...224
Chapter 25 With Adult Children...235
Chapter 26 At Work...243
Chapter 27 With People in Authority...254
Speaking the Truth in Love....265

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First Chapter

Boundaries Face to Face Copyright 2003 by Henry Cloud and John Townsend This title is also available as a Zondervan audio product.
Visit www.zondervan.com/audiopages for more information.
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Cloud, Henry.
Boundaries face to face : how to have that difficult conversation you've been avoiding / Henry Cloud and John Townsend.—1st ed.
p. cm.
ISBN 0-310-22152-8
1. Conflict management—Religious aspects—Christianity. 2. Conversation—
Religious aspects—Christianity. 3. Oral communication—Religious aspects—
Christianity. 4. Interpersonal conflict—Religious aspects. 5. Interpersonal relations—Religious aspects. I. Townsend, John Sims, 1952— II. Title.
BV4597.53.C58C59 2003
158.2—dc22
200301562
This edition printed on acid-free paper.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Italics in Scripture quotations are added by the authors for emphasis.
Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright
1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation.
The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you.
These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy,
recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Published in association with Yates and Yates, LLP, Attorneys and Counselors, Suite 1000,
Literary Agent, Orange, CA.
Interior design by Beth Shagene Printed in the United States of America
03 04 05 06 07 08 09 /? DC/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
We never foresaw how well our book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life was going to do.
Although we knew through our clinical work that many people identify with the need to regain control of their lives, we had no idea how widespread that need was. Almost everyone feels the need for better boundaries at one time or another.
Sometimes we need to deal with a difficult person in a relationship,
such as a controller, a manipulator, or someone who is irresponsible or even abusive. At other times we need to figure out what demands of life to say no to so we won't overextend ourselves. At still other times we need to work out better patterns of intimacy and relatedness in a good relationship, or take a stand for our values in a difficult one. Still other times, we might need to keep someone from taking over more of our time,
energy, and resources than we would like to give. There are many, many different contexts of life in which we need to exercise good boundaries. For people who care, setting those boundaries can be tough. So it really is no surprise that Boundaries has found such a ready audience.
As a result of the book's following, we find ourselves speaking to tens of thousands of people directly every year and literally millions through our radio program. When we talk to people, the theme of dealing with difficult relationships continues to surface. Resolving relational issues is always on the forefront of people's minds.
As we answer questions, we find ourselves continually telling people that they should have a direct conversation with the person with whom they have the problem. They repeatedly say either 'I've tried that, and it didn't work' or 'How would I do that?' Either they have tried and found themselves overpowered or outmaneuvered, or they just don't know how to broach such a conversation. So we often tell them to roleplay with us. We say, 'You be him or her and I'll be you. Now go.' When we show them how to have such a conversation, the lights go on for the first time. They often say things like 'I never thought about saying it like that. That makes all the difference in the world. Now I know what to do.'
Many people in the audience who observe the role-playing tell us the same thing. Just hearing how to do it gives them a process to follow,
and they can go forward with more confidence that they will be able to resolve a tough issue.
This book shows readers how to do that, how to have a 'boundary conversation.' Most people know that they need to set boundaries with someone or have a difficult conversation with someone, but few know how to do it well. Some are so afraid, they never try; others try and fail dismally; still others do it in a way that does more harm than good. For that reason, people put off confronting, setting boundaries, or 'facing into' difficult conversations. As a result, their relationships suffer.
For many people, setting boundaries or confronting someone has gotten a bad rap. Yet, both the Bible and research show that confrontation is essential to success in all arenas of life. Successful people confront well. They make it a part of the ongoing texture of their relationships.
They face issues in their relationships directly. In fact, the Latin word for confront means just that: to turn your face toward something or someone.
We hope this book will return confrontation to its proper positive role in the language of love and relationship. We will show that setting boundaries, confronting, and having that 'difficult conversation you've been avoiding' is not adversarial, but one of the most loving things you can do. We will show that it is the only way to have the relationship you desire, whether in marriage, dating, friendship, family, or work. And if you learn to have those difficult conversations in a loving, honest,
and responsible way, your relationships can become better than you ever thought they could.
This book will show you the benefits and essentials of a good conversation,
how to have that good conversation, how to prepare yourself before you have the conversation, and how to have it with the various people in your lives.
So why another Boundaries book? Our prayer is that it will accompany whatever other Boundaries books you have and guide you toward specific conversations in both your difficult and delightful relationships.
This will be a 'how-to' guide to help you know how to have that difficult conversation you've been avoiding and, as a result, get more out of your relationships—and your life.
As we speak around the country at conferences on relationships,
we will often hear some version of the following story.
A man will come up and say, 'Thanks for your materials on setting limits and boundaries. They have changed my life and my marriage.'
We will say, 'Thank you, too. So what book did you read?'
'I didn't read a book,' the man will say. 'My wife did!'
He will go on to explain: 'I was a crummy communicator with my wife. I controlled her, I had some bad habits, and I had no spiritual life to speak of. Then she read Boundaries, and she started applying the principles. That's when things started changing for both of us. It took some time and effort, but I'm really different now. We are closer, and we have more respect for each other and more freedom in the relationship. I'm doing a lot better with those bad habits, and I'm waking up to my relationship with God.'
You would normally expect someone to talk about a book he has actually read.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 11, 2009

    An excellent book for anyone who has trouble tactfully saying "No."

    Are you an inadvertant enabler? Do others take advantage of you before you even realize it? Are you simply burned out from helping everyone else with their problems such that you have no peace left in your own life? Then this is the book for you. It gives you a hands-on approach (from a Biblical perspective) to dealing with others truthfully and gracefully so that you can handle life's tough situations, but still have peace in your own life.

    Stand up for yourself. Take time for yourself. Accept the things you cannot change, and move on.

    I would suggest that you also read "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend along with this book. "Boundaries" gives you the principles to live by, and this book helps you to effectively put those principles into practice.

    This recommendation comes from a person who knows: I am an attorney who was stressed out and nearly burned out, and this book literally changed my life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2008

    Life Changing!

    This book has transformed the lives of many women that have sat under my teaching and counseling. Upon learning the valuable lessons in this book and incorporating them into every day life, EMPOWERMENT has been the result! I highly recommend this great read. Your life can be transformed IF you use these invaluable tools.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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