Wanted to share with you a quick but useful tip I picked up from Warren Buffett and others.
Set definitive boundaries.
Warren Buffett recently decided to live stream his annual shareholder meeting for the first time. I was watching an interview of the man from Yahoo! responsible for the live stream talk about the arrangement.
He said that Warren set a very clear and simple arrangement: we will give you the wire to the broadcast, plug it in, and if you don’t have it ready in X number of days, we will look to someone else.
He had a very specific number of days for the deadline (I used X to substitute the number since I don’t remember the exact number).
The point is that when you are operating on such a high level, you can easily clog up efficiency with inefficient deadlines or vague promises.
When you’re starting out, you may want to say Yes to multiple opportunities more often.
But there comes a point where you have to set boundaries for your own health. Because people are out there who will manipulate, trick, scam, or push on those boundaries.
This applies to areas outside of just business: dating, relationships, and friends.
We all have met someone who is exploitative or will take advantage of you because you are weak or appear to be weak; some have met more of these people than others. Unfortunately, there are really bad people in the world.
If you are way too lenient, nice, or people-pleasing, it will show that you are weak or easily exploited, and some people will take advantage of that by abusing their privileges.
Here are some of the most common things you should set boundaries for and why:
- Meetings and deadlines. If a friend or employee keeps missing deadlines or rescheduling, it can show extreme lack of discipline and professionalism. If you show too much lenience too often, they will just get worse.
- Physical touch boundaries. Very important for women. Not saying anything could communicate the wrong implied message.
- Lack of respect when talking. If you don’t speak up and say something is wrong, they may not know.
Do This Or We Walk Method
A great way of keeping things firm is the “Do this or we walk” method from Warren Buffett.
It’s not super threatening and aggressive, but more than firm enough.
“If you don’t have the project in by March 15, we will find someone else to do it.”
Important things to note about the subtle tone of the situation:
- The requirements are not super difficult to reach. In Warren Buffett’s case, they were more than easily achievable: plug in the live stream wire and get it prepped to start working in time. Having impossible to reach deadlines makes you look like an unreasonable dick.
- It’s very clear what the deadline is and the consequences of not achieving it. I have experimented with using this myself when someone was very unprofessional and rescheduled a confirmed meeting I set time for: “I’ll reschedule just once more. If you fail, I’m not doing this anymore.” The consequence was clear. If you keep it vague and open like “Oh, yeah, whenever you are free.” They will feel more and more like it’s totally okay to be unprofessional and get worse. I’ve seen this before.
When you are younger, you may not have as many opportunities. Therefore, saying yes more and being more open could be better for you.
However, at all stages of life, we need to set some level of personal and professional boundaries. Otherwise, we can be taken advantage of.
Will Chou is a self-development blogger who finds the most useful practices of the world’s most successful people through science, studies, and books by authors to find out how they did it. Join his free email newsletter for the top insights.