How the market stall owner is teaching me about boundaries

There is a stall owner in the nearby market selling beautiful qualify fruit and vegetables three times a week near my apartment in Paris. He doesn't know it but he is my teacher.

For awhile when I started buying from him each week, I'd try to avoid him, following his assistant around until he was free so he could select the freshest of produce for me. (In a lot of markets in France, you are served by the stall owner so they can select the prime produce for you. By saying when you want to eat it, they'll select just the perfect firmness for you.)

You see, he is a notorious up-seller. I only have to show a vague interest in the Barbary Figs, Physalis, or Wild Asparagus in store, out of pure curiosity, and he has shoved them into my trolley, adding about another €15 to my bill.

I began to see this as a Universal assignment.

I decided to stop avoiding him - we can't avoid conflict in our lives all the time. What I realised I have to is learn to:

Say 'No' and mean it.

No apology. No excuses. No justification....

over and over again. It goes something like this:

"I'll have a pomegranate."

"How many?"

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"Just one."

"It's 3 for €5 - a good price."

"No - just one, please."

"Are you sure? Saves you coming back again."

"Just one please."

And so I get just one pomegranate popped in the trolley.

Why is this important?

By learning to say no calmly and without apology, excuse or justification, I am training myself to for the crucial conversations; to be able to say no to the big things that really matter - like the next time someone asks to borrow money from me, and I don't want to.

Train yourself for the crucial conversations by practicing on the small stuff. It's called setting boundaries, and it is something women often have difficulty doing, as 'people pleasers'. It's why we often work so hard in our careers, doing everything for everyone else, yet end up staying in the same place. It is easy to say 'Yes' - it trips off the tongue easily, yet it is later we often regret it. It takes strength, power and self-belief to say 'No'.

How do you prepare for crucial conversations?

Do you have a difficult relationship with 'No'?"

How are some ways you can start practicing saying 'No' with the small stuff?

Need some help getting comfortable with 'No' and setting clear, healthy boundaries? Book a call and let's discuss how poor boundaries is stopping you from getting what you want in life and career, and how we can change that.