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Trust, Shelving and Boundaries

Trust, Shelving and Boundaries

I want to talk about trust. I came across a very relevant and insightful quote by Ernest Hemingway. As you know, Ernest Hemingway was a very famous poet, author, and writer. He said, “The way to make people trustworthy is to trust them.” Let’s reiterate as this is very important- the way to make people trustworthy is to trust them. When you give them trust, see how they react. Trust but verify. And that’s the key.

When you give people the authority and responsibility, most of them will follow through. This is equally relevant in your personal life as in your work life. Most of the times people want to do the right thing. Sometimes they get led down the wrong path. That could be due to multiple reasons-it could be them getting distracted or tempted by the wrong things, it could be their predilection, and proclivity towards doing certain actions, etc. Give them the benefit of doubt, trust them till they prove otherwise, and then modify the responsibility that you gave them.

When trust is broken

When they do break your trust, what do you do? It is here where the concept of shelving and creating boundaries becomes relevant. Sometimes when your trust is broken, and they behave in a way that is contrary to what you expected, you may want to temporarily put your relationship with that person on the shelf. We call that Shelving-you temporarily put your dealings with that person on pause. You’re not ending the relationship but you’re shelving it, and you’re pausing it for now.

Shelving and Creating Boundaries

The other related aspect to shelving is creating boundaries. Creating boundaries is very important. If you don’t set the boundaries, somebody else will. That may negatively impact your time, feelings and your emotions. So, set clear boundaries and communicate those boundaries very effectively to the other person, so that they are aware as to what is acceptable, and what is not. You always have the ability to say no, and you should say No, when your boundaries are being contravened or impacted. It could be work life balance, emotional abuse, gaslighting etc. Whatever the issue, negative feeling, behavior or action, set the boundaries, communicate them effectively, explain to the person what the boundary is and why it is important to you.

Trust but verify

Trust is the foundation of any long-term sustainable relationship. What happens when the trust is broken? How can you bounce off and recover from that? First and foremost, apologize and take responsibility for what happened. Maybe you flared up, got angry and you reacted in a way that was not in accordance with giving the other person grace and forgiveness and listening to understand rather than to react. In those situations, it’s important for you to raise your hand and apologize and say I’m sorry- I shouldn’t have done that. Irrespective of how the other person reacted.

Give Grace

You can’t control how the other person reacts; you can control how you react to their situation. That’s easier said than done because sometimes the person is criticizing you, and attacking you, and holding you responsible for something you had nothing to do with. They are agitated and then you get agitated, and that only worsens the situation. So, take a step back, apologize if you need to apologize, and give the other person grace. Grace is not grace if the other person deserved it. Grace is when the other person doesn’t deserve it and you still give them grace. You still forgive them.  You continue to move forward, and you don’t hold on to the past.

For additional details or questions on Shelving and Creating Boundaries, or to schedule a complimentary coaching session on how to lead a more balanced, happier and fulfilled life, with more impact, freedom and control, email me at


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