Boundaries as a Bridge to Connection with Lisa Dempsey

Boundaries as a Bridge to Connection with Lisa Dempsey

“You know it when you feel it. You know it when you hit upon it. You know it when your boundary has been crossed. You feel it, and your body tells you. When you dig into what that is about and why your body is being activated, and then you figure out how to articulate it, actually articulating your boundary can become a bridge to connection.” - Lisa Dempsey

Boundary setting is a topic that is often misunderstood, and even feared. Today’s Brave By Design guest reveals how a lack of boundaries will affect your professional life, and the reasons why boundaries always need to be kept top of mind in your personal and professional life. Done the right way, boundaries don’t need to be feared, but rather can serve as an effective tool for connecting with others.

For the best part of two decades, Lisa Dempsey worked as a Human Resources Executive with a variety of International Board and C-Suite leaders, helping them develop their global teams and deliver strategic change and transformation through the power of people.

Today, she is a courageous and compassionate leader who loves empowering people to discover their own strengths and awaken their own inner leader in order to live, love and lead out loud. Her passion is to amplify the strengths of others so they can consistently come from a place of greatness and live, love and lead out loud with purpose and courageous authenticity.

It wasn’t always this way for Lisa, as she’s hit a few bumps in the road along her journey. She can directly attribute a huge part of overcoming them to setting and maintaining clear and strong boundaries, which you’ll learn more about in this episode.

Connect with Lisa: https://www.leadershiplabs.eu/ 


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Connect with Laura Khalil online:

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linkedIn.com/in/LauraKhalil

What You’ll Hear In This Episode: 

  • How Lisa embarked on her own boundary setting journey after experiencing burnout in her own life [1:57]

  • What is behind the fear of setting boundaries as a woman in the workplace, and the way that this fear can be overcome [5:52]

  • Why setting boundaries doesn’t have to be a harsh NO, and how it’s really about understanding and connection [8:42]

  • What the modern day “disease of busy” looks like [13:42]

  • Lisa’s tips for living a more balanced life - physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally [17:53]

  • How to find acceptance and self-worth from within, and the impact this will have on all facets of your life [23:02]

Additional Links & Resources:

Leadership Labs Website, Facebook & LinkedIn  

Lisa’s LinkedIn

HR Matters Podcast

Work-Life Balance and Overcoming Addiction to Stress with Naketa R. Thigpen

Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/bravebydesign)

Transcript
Lisa Dempsey :

You know it when you feel it, you know it when you hit upon it you know when your boundary has been crossed, you feel it your body tells you and when you dig into what is that about? Like, why is my body being activated, and then you figure out how to articulate it. Actually articulating your boundary can become a bridge to connection.

Laura Khalil :

Welcome to brave by design. I'm your host, Laura Khalil. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking bake, exploring the power of personal development and sharing the best strategies from thought leaders and pioneers in business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started. Everyone, welcome to this episode of brave by design. I am so excited to talk with our guest today all about boundaries. Let me tell you a little bit about The incredible woman we have on with us today. This is Lisa Dempsey. She is a certified leadership coach and facilitator with an extensive background in international people strategy. She brings more than two decades of delivering strategic change and transformation through the power of people in complex matrix corporations. Lisa is honored to have received the Deloitte bold Leader Award for her work in visionary leadership. She is also the co host of the wonderful HR matters podcast. You can hear me on there as well go check it out. If you're an HR you need to hear that show. Lisa, welcome to brave by design.

Lisa Dempsey :

Thank you so much, Laura. I'm so excited to be here with you.

Laura Khalil :

It is such a pleasure. You know, we've had a few conversations I've always loved chatting with you. I always come away feeling so fulfilled and so enriched by everything that you share. And I know that in one of those conversations, We began to touch a little bit on boundary setting. That is such a topic that I think is one misunderstood. And people are afraid to approach it. So I want to talk with you about that today. And let's start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and why boundary setting has become so important to you.

Lisa Dempsey :

Yeah, you're so right. We've had so many good conversations and boundaries. Was this like magical resonance, that kind of Yeah.

Unknown Speaker :

Between us. You

Lisa Dempsey :

know, I was in the fast paced corporate life for a really long time worked for a variety of really big, really demanding multinational corporates. I thought at a time in my life, I had really good boundaries. And then when I hit burnout, it's my busy, crazy job. That was literally running 24 seven, I realized that Oh, wait just a minute. I don't think that I do. I think I have boundaries in some parts of my life, but not all parts of my life. And I found particularly as a woman in the corporate space, really having boundaries in the corporate world, in the boardroom, you know, typically where I was the only woman sitting at the board table that needed to show up really differently.

Laura Khalil :

God, that's such a great thing that you bring up because especially as women, I want to ask you, one, what do boundaries look like? Because I think a lot of people think a boundary boxes me in, I think you're going to say that's not correct. But the second thing I want to ask you is, let's also dive into what does it mean to be a woman who sets boundaries because often in the boardroom, we may be labeled as a bitch as difficult. And how do we do that in a way where that's not the effect?

Lisa Dempsey :

Yeah, yeah. And so that first point is such an important one. I think that There are so many just genuinely wrong, cultivated ideas about boundaries. I think for a lot of people It feels like this cutting off of connection feels like this, you know, chopping things and being very black and white, no only until here and not any further.

Unknown Speaker :

That is a way a boundary can show up

Lisa Dempsey :

the way that it has to it isn't the only option. And I think you know, oftentimes I often think of this Rene Brown, when she talks about not puffing up or shrinking back, you know, standing your sacred ground. And when you're able to discover what is that sacred ground that you want to stand like, what are the values and the really important things about you as a person and it's funny as I talk about this, like I'm getting goosebumps because it's just so fundamentally and Julissa I'm serious? This is incredible. You know it when you feel it, you know it when you hit potty, you know, when your boundary has been crossed, you feel it, your body tells you. And when you dig into what is that about? Like, why is my body being activated? And then you figure out how to articulate it. Actually articulating your boundary can become a bridge to connection. And this is the really beautiful thing about boundaries is when you dig deep, you go beyond that just initial activation, you observe it, you take it in, you take it on board and go, Oh, hold on. Something just got crossed here. Yeah, what am I gonna do? And then you dig deeper into what's happening below the surface, what part of you has just been trapped upon? Hmm. And then you find a way to articulate it in a way that is genuinely about you.

Laura Khalil :

Lisa, before we get into the whole boardroom thing I want to ask you because when you say it's a bridge to connection, what I hear you saying, it is as much a bridge of connection to yourself. To acknowledging yourself and your body and your innate wisdom, as well as it is to sharing that and connecting with others. Is that what you mean? Yes, absolutely. It's connection on all levels. So it's understanding yourself better. And it's allowing other people, everyone who lives outside of you and your body also understand you better and who you are and what's important to you. Now, one of these fears is always will if I assert a boundary, especially in the workplace, especially as maybe one of the few women who is in a high powered position or who does work primarily with a bunch of guys who feel that it is perhaps a meritocracy, and that everything's just equal. How do we deal with the fears around, I won't be appreciated, or people may say, I'm being difficult. How do women deal with that?

Lisa Dempsey :

The number one thing that I give to the women that I work with my leadership prowess. is it's not your job to be liked. It is your job to be you and to fully show up with all of you and all of your gifts,

Laura Khalil :

Lisa. Oh, m j. Yes. I feel that it is not your job to be liked and so it's okay if people don't like you. That's right. Yeah. Okay, is everyone hearing that I hope you guys are listening to that and really taking that in, because there's something really there about us all trying to curry for external validation that we are good enough and so is part of like the people pleasing thing, part of why people have trouble setting these boundaries.

Lisa Dempsey :

It can be a big part of it, you know, certainly there I think, especially as women, we are acculturated to be people pleasers, to be nice to be kind to do all of these things. In Our work lives, it is so important that we fully show up and appreciate our full value, that it is not our job to be liked. It is not our job to only be nice, yes, you need to be nice build connections, talk about things in positive ways for a lot of reasons. But that is not the only thing that is not the road to take. There's something really transformative that happens when you are able to do what I call standing tall in your own truth. And simply say, this is me, this is who I am. This is something that is important to me. And let me tell you why.

Laura Khalil :

What I love about how you're saying that Lisa is it's very it's actually very gentle. You know, I think that sometimes when we think of boundaries and maybe you know some people act this way, it can feel like a harsh No. But what I hear you saying is actually the complete opposite. I want to help share a little bit of my story. World in my experience with you, and also understanding of who I am, so that we can connect, but it's very gentle what I hear you saying it doesn't sound like a Smackdown Yeah, absolutely. You know, it's one boundary can be it's knocked down. There are certainly times that might be appropriate. But we so I'm part of the SmackDown crowd, I'll be honest with you, I'm often smacking down, like, nope, we ain't doing that. But you know, there are other ways.

Lisa Dempsey :

There are other ways and so this is where like the people pleasers only part of the puzzle. There is also the space of really just your body awareness. And this is what I call the embodiment of leadership. So it's where you become aware of what is happening in your body. So that moment where you get that like flood of adrenaline, or that rush of blood to your face, or your fingers start tingling, your armpits, start sweating, whatever it is that's going on the Power of being able to observe that and realize that that is your body sending your self a really important signal. But you don't have to fully act only on that you can give yourself some time to process it. Figure out what is happening. Why are you being activated? Because I think the reason a lot of times people experience boundaries is very cut and dry. You know, Smackdown know, if you're acting on that initial flood, and rush of adrenaline, all sorts of hormones and ping guilty, Lisa guilty.

Laura Khalil :

Yeah, I'll do it. Yeah, absolutely. So let me then ask you, because that's really important. And you know, I'll be honest with you, that's one of the things that I have to work on the most, is not just doing that immediate clap back, because I don't think it really serves. I think it serves in some ways, but I think things can be a little bit gentle or to be honest with you. But what I want to ask you is how does it feel then? Because I think a lot of people are used to the feeling of a boundary violation. They're used to what that feels like in the body. And I think a lot of those same people who are afraid to assert the boundary, they may not be aware of what does it feel like when you've done that? How does the body feel? Does it just immediately relaxed? Does it feel like a release? Does it feel like tell us more about that? Well, so the first step is

Lisa Dempsey :

to observe that initial flood. Mm hmm. And by observing it, you're able to gain knowledge and wisdom from it, you're able to dig deep and realize, ooh, this is a signal as opposed to this is something I have to do. This is

Laura Khalil :

a signal. I love that.

Lisa Dempsey :

Okay, information. Yeah. And then once you take in that information, you can take a moment to process it. It's a little bit like a muscle. Once you exercise this regularly, you will understand what that signal is, what that information is, and what it's about. Much more Quickly, but it takes time you have to like go to the gym with your boundary muscles. Yeah, regularly, to really be able to quickly articulate. So sometimes it's just a matter of really saying, you know, this was something that I often did in the boardroom was, you know, that's a really interesting idea. I notice I'm having a reaction to it. Give me some time to process with that as about and I will get back to you.

Laura Khalil :

That's incredible. So you will acknowledge, hey, I'm having a feeling about this, but I don't want to act on it right now. I need time to think. Yes, that's incredible.

Lisa Dempsey :

Yeah. So you just flag it, you know, put that flag in the ground, like, something's going on here. I'm gonna process this and I'll be back to you when I get to it.

Laura Khalil :

How do most people react when they hear something like that? Because that's a really kind of evolved way of responding.

Lisa Dempsey :

Well, it depends on the person. Of course, you know, some people who are just hurry Hurry, hurry. They're trying to push something through, they're likely to be triggered by that. That's okay. That's their game, not yours. So this is again, we're just standing tall in your truth, you know, feet firmly on the ground and saying, Hey, you know, this is really important to me. And then you can have a negotiation about Okay, I'll get back to you in half an hour. I'll get back to you in 10 minutes. I'll get back to you in two days. You can open up a dialogue about that. And really anybody who either wants to not respect that or step over that, there's a different discussion there that need Yeah,

Laura Khalil :

yeah, absolutely. So let me ask you this. We did an episode A while ago with a woman named Nikita figpin, who is a clinical I believe, she's a therapist, clinical therapist, and she talked a lot about addiction to stress and overwhelm. And I want to talk about that a little bit with you. You and see what you think about this because I wonder sometimes if people don't set boundaries, because the overwhelm, and maybe the stress is a state that they're really used to being in and provides a lot for them. So it can be hard to shift to something that doesn't seem as overwhelming chaotic because they're not used to it. How do you feel about that? Lisa? Yes,

Lisa Dempsey :

yes, this is such a good question. And I have goosebumps again. Because it is it's, you know, the modern day disease of busy, busy and busy ness. It's that addiction to constantly going and doing it constantly being on the move, constantly being in action mode, and the truth of our human evolution, our anatomy, the way that our brains and our bodies work dictates We cannot always be on the go, we cannot always be in hyperdrive. It just does not work. And what it does is it causes a huge variety of problems. You know, I can speak from my experience of my burnout, you know, an adrenal fatigue, it's not pleasant. It's really hard to recover from what what

Laura Khalil :

is an adrenal fatigue.

Lisa Dempsey :

It's where literally your adrenal glands have been exhausted, because you are constantly running on adrenaline, your body doesn't have enough time to recover, it doesn't have enough time to process and get rid of the excess cortisol that's been produced by that. And it causes physical issues, you know, as well as just some very serious brain fog. You know, you lose literally what's called your executive function. That's where your prefrontal cortex, the very front part of your brain, it goes offline, it becomes really confused and it's hard. To then create clarity and have clear decision making when that is constantly in overwhelm

Laura Khalil :

is adrenal fatigue something that isn't like Hey, take a couple days off and you know, come back is it that type of thing or is it really something that takes more of a recovery process? Or maybe it's different for everyone? I'm just curious Well,

Lisa Dempsey :

what you're talking about this genuine addiction to busy this constant go And I'll just name the fact that in most of our Western societies, we are highly acculturated to this. You're told busy as good. We are told busy his prestige, we are told busy is important. We're told if you are not busy, you better be figuring out how to get busy.

Laura Khalil :

Oh my gosh, you are speaking to me at least I hear that. I hear that. Yes.

Lisa Dempsey :

So we're constantly like socialized with all of these messages that are just they are broken. They are wrong, they are ill informed and they are doing damage. So if you're talking about people who are genuinely addicted to busy Adrenal Fatigue is it's number one a genuine medical condition. And it usually requires months to genuinely recover from because your body has to process all of that excess waste. While is those hormones and chemicals have to come back into balance. Wow.

Laura Khalil :

Yeah. Oh my gosh. Okay. So we want to try to set boundaries so we don't get there. And if people are addicted to stress, an addicted to this overwhelm and go, go, go, go go. Is there one step? I mean, I don't believe anyone can just sort of turn the light on and off and just change overnight. It usually takes some time to get people on a new path. Is there something that people can begin to do one small step in the direction of Living maybe a more balanced life mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally?

Lisa Dempsey :

Yeah, gosh, yes. How much

Laura Khalil :

time do we have Lisa? How much time?

Lisa Dempsey :

really big thing I mean, so I can speak from my own experience. One of the biggest most important things I did was I got involved with a coach to really help sort out okay, what is going on? Is this me? Is this the organization? What's happening? As a female, we'd like to take a lot of burden onto our own shoulders. Right now we are told to first fix ourselves and then look at the external world. And by engaging with a coach that helps me sort out you know, which part of it was me which part of it was the external world? And where did I need to start setting different boundaries where that you know, I've set really good at my Personal life but work life much less. So you know, there are a lot of, I felt like I needed to hustle for my worthiness I felt like I had been told so many times, you as a woman, you're going to have to work 10 times harder than anybody else in order to, you know, climb the proverbial corporate ladder in order to remain credible into do all of these things that we're told are important. Complete fallacy.

Laura Khalil :

Anybody out there who is trying to tell you that please

Lisa Dempsey :

ask them to kindly take their opinion elsewhere? Well, you

Laura Khalil :

made it. Well, you know, at least a little bit. Let me dig into that a little bit. Because there is this research that shows that, for example, there's some research that says women need to publish three times as much as men within an university setting in order to get tenure. I mean, there seems to be some evidence that supports women feeling like They have to work harder than men to get ahead. What do you feel about that?

Lisa Dempsey :

Yeah, I've seen a lot of that research as well. We know a couple of things. We know that number one women, our voices are processed in different parts of the brain than men. So that means no matter what we say, or how we say it, there's a different part of the brain that's processing the words that we say versus those of a man, huh? Yeah, really? Don't tell me more

Laura Khalil :

about that. What does that mean?

Lisa Dempsey :

Well, there's some science hasn't come back with very hard answers on exactly what it fully means other than just we know there are different parts of the brain involved in processing the information sent by female voice versus a male voice. It's recorded and picked up in different parts of our brain. That also means there are different neural transmitters that get involved in the processing of female voices versus men. Exactly what the full outcome and impact of that is somewhat debatable, it's a good thing to be aware of, because you can use it. And that's also where then in communicating boundaries, you can be aware of the way in which you communicate them, again, building bridges to connections to yourself and to the other people by really explaining what is going on inside of you. Why is it that you're really activated? And which values which of your real internal values are you looking for honor in this situation, and that flips the conversation on its head. But going back to this bigger thing of, you know, men, women, how disadvantaged are we? You know, in my leadership, coaching practice, I can tell you, the women who are willing to take that step and really firmly stand tall in their truth, stand tall and their value. A huge chunk of that hustle disappears, a huge huge chunk of that need to prove themselves disappears. It literally just evaporates. It's so

Laura Khalil :

interesting. It's kind of like what I hear you saying is, well, what kind of game do you want to play? So you can play the game where you are hustling, hustling, hustling, and, you know, engage everyone around you and playing that game with you. Or you can say, you know what, I'm sort of done with that one. I want to try a different game. And different, you know, it might be the same players, but the rules are different. What I hear and what you're saying is, I think it was gay Hendricks who said, If you argue for limitations, you're going to get them. Right. And this question of, Okay, well, I don't want to play this game where I have to work three times as hard. So let's see what some of the other options are. And as we're talking about today, boundary setting standing in your truth is actually another option. Yes. I absolutely love that. So Lisa, if I am afraid, I'm scared, and people aren't gonna like me if I do this, or I'm just sort of living in the fear of people not liking me. How do we again, I know this could be an entire Podcast Series what I'm about to ask, but how can we begin to recognize that you are worthy enough without someone externally giving you that approval without being addicted to external sense of worth? Yeah, so

Lisa Dempsey :

this is one of the Grand paradoxes of our human condition, right? We are hardwired for belonging. So we long we ache for that connection. That's why that being liked is so important because we're afraid when we don't have it. We're gonna lose our tribe. We're gonna lose the people that we rely upon. So it feels you know, you get activated that fear is big and and that's

Laura Khalil :

real.

Lisa Dempsey :

Yeah, very Real, very real. So really the first piece to untangle that is, again, when you're feeling activated when you're feeling that rush of adrenaline, the tingling in your hands, the, you know, tingling in your feet or whatever it might be for you. Tune into it, pay attention to it. Dig into what is that about? You know, is this about? Oh, I'm really afraid to tell, you know, john, down the hallway, that thing that played out in the meeting today? I am not okay with that. Right. I'm not on board with that plan. Is that activation? You know, is it just the pure fear of what if I say that and he blows up at me, right? What if I did, and he says, well get the heck out of my office and talk to you.

Laura Khalil :

Which has happened to me can happen which can happen. That's a real thing.

Lisa Dempsey :

Yeah. Yeah. But it is number one, not the end of the world. This massive, you know, flood of adrenaline that your body is giving you on that. It's disproportionate to the situation. Right?

Laura Khalil :

That's so important. Yeah. Oh, god, that's so important. Because I think everyone thinks this will be the end of the world. And it's like, no, it'll keep spinning. And I always like to tell people, let's say it doesn't go well. And we've all been in situations where someone really gets offended that we've, you know, thrown up a boundary or we've asserted a boundary. And what I always remind people of is, if someone doesn't want to be in your life, because you don't have any boundaries, that creates space for a higher quality individual who is more aligned with your values to come in now. That's how I like to think of it when people sort of move in and out of my life, I think, well, I'm creating more space for people who are more aligned to me who are respectful of who I am of what I value. And I find that to be very, very life affirming for me when dealing with You know, not everyone likes you. Not everyone is going to get along with you. Not everyone is going to agree. Do you agree, Lisa?

Lisa Dempsey :

Yeah, it is not your job to be liked. This is not your reason for being here on this earth. Plain and simple.

Laura Khalil :

That's going in a quote. I love that list. I love it. Yes. Okay, Lisa, this has absolutely flown by. I want to ask you do you have a final piece of advice for the audience?

Lisa Dempsey :

Oh, so many beautiful things to you know, sort of jump on and leverage out of this. But really, the one thing that I would hope every single person takes away is the fact that you are valuable, who you are is inherently valuable. And there is absolutely nothing in this life that you have to prove. Your single job is to be you and be you on purpose.

Laura Khalil :

Oh, I just love it. I love it. I just want to talk to you all day long, and get sort of like a little piece of you with me. I just so affirming, Lisa, how can people learn more about you and what you offer,

Lisa Dempsey :

you can reach out to me online, have a website. So leadership labs.eu. I'm based in Europe, but work with people all around the globe. I'm also on Facebook and LinkedIn, Lisa Dempsey, or leadership labs, and you'll find me pretty quickly.

Laura Khalil :

And we're gonna put all of the links to that in the show notes. So for anyone who does want to connect with Lisa, and frankly, I think you'd be crazy. If you didn't want to go find her online. Lisa Dempsey, thank you so much for joining us on brave by design. Thank you, Laura. I want to thank you for joining me and remember to subscribe to your favorite app so you can stay up to date, and I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode. Please leave a review and comment on Apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on LinkedIn and I'm also on Instagram at force of badassery. All that information will be available in the show notes. Until next time, stay brave