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Conversations with Julie - Our Reflections EPISODE #4

In this episode, we talk to Helen Palmer, the Founder and Author from Self-unLimited about creating a safe space when we are looking to have an important conversation with someone.

PURPOSE: Unpacking responsibilities of holding a safe space

WHAT TO EXPECT: How rules and relationships define how we hold a safe space.


In this episode today Julie will be talking to Helen Palmer, the Founder and Author of Self-unLimited about the Rule and Relationship elements from Self unLimited.

Read/listen to the full conversation HERE

Rules - “the responsibility to lead and navigate my work adventures express my values and intentions through action” - Helen Palmer, Self UnLimited

Your Rules are habits, or guidelines that match or are inspired by your values. They can and should be very detailed. Your boundaries with yourself and others can be a set of Rules.

Rules are an essential element of internal safety. Our lives are ruled by many things we have adopted, accepted and examined.

Rules can be a sweeping declaration of what you are going to do to achieve your goals or values. Or they can be a quiet internal promise that suits you at the time. They need to be detailed so you aren’t saying a blanket no for example. By having rules in place it will expand your capacity to be able to handle and work through the inconsistencies and challenges that may come your way.

Rules can tie in very closely with the element Relationships. You may have rules about who you talk to about certain things. Understanding that what you need to say, is not necessarily what the other person needs to hear can and will be a complex rule that you will need to have inplace. Which all leads back into internal and external safety. Boundary setting with others is a rule that you need to vocalise, especially with those close to you.

How to set rules in a 10min self conversation?

  1. Have I got any rules in play? If yes, are they serving me?

  2. What is important to me?

  3. What are my values?

  4. What can my rules look like?

  5. What do I need to have in place? (These should speak directly to your values).

Relationships - “the responsibility to connect with others meaningfully and help each other” - Helen Palmer, Self UnLimited

We need to acknowledge that there are many different types of relationships all around us, everyday. You will have personal relationships, family relationships, work relationships, acquaintance relationships and many more. In this episode Helen and Julie are focussing on work relationships, however you can easily apply the advice to all relationships. Relationships come and go throughout our lives and we need to ensure that we are asking the right questions about these relationships. What relationship do I want, need and value? And who do I want to show up for? Being able to set rules and guidelines around the different types of relationships not only grows your capacity to handle uncomfortable conversations, but will increase the areas in which you can give and receive value.

By being mindful about the relationships you choose to nourish and make space for, you are able then to ensure that you are gaining support and value from them. Obviously you can only maintain a certain number of high quality relationships at any given time. You only have a certain amount of energy, and if you don’t feel safe that amount of energy is going to be lower, than if you felt safe and confident within yourself.

So knowing all of this, what questions do you need to be asking yourself?

  • What kind of relationships do you need in your work life?

  • Who do I want to show up for in a conversation?

  • What relationships do I want to seek to add to my work village?

  • What is the level of inclusion and diversity within my own workscape?

  • What value can I add when it comes to networking and expanding my workscape and what value can I receive?

Saying No and hearing No:

People feel they can’t say no in the workplace because they don’t feel safe or they fear rejection. When Julie says no her thoughts are that, “I’m freeing the opportunity for someone better to do it.”

When it comes to saying no, it doesn’t have to be as defined as yes or no. There are many options between the two. It could be, not at the moment, as I don’t have the capacity to take on any more work. Or it could be an opportunity for you to understand what the request is really about, what is the value that the person is seeking? By understanding that you will only be able to produce something of value if you deliver what is of value to them.

Questions to ask to understand what value the person is seeking:

  • What do you need this to look like?

  • I’m just wanting to clarify what is needed here?

  • When would you like it?

  • Does it need to be in a formal format?

Here is Helen Palmer's article about Saying No.

How to say no:

Start practicing in low risk situations. If you don’t want to go out for that coffee, then say no.

Clarify what is actually needed.

Final thoughts

Our assumptions get in the way of us feeling safe. If you are not willing to ask the question, say no or go deeper to understand needs, you are closing yourself to a higher level of internal safety. One where you feel safe standing in your truth, because you don’t fear consequences. You are willing to sit in a conversation to understand how I can actually add value.

The Questions:

  1. Fill in the blank... "A conversation can___________" (This can be in the perspective of either party in a conversation)

  2. What has been the greatest lesson, good or bad, that you've learnt about having conversations?

  3. What is something you would like others to know about having difficult conversations?

Helen’s Answers:

  1. A conversation can be a dance. There is a give and take, backwards and forwards. There is a fluidity.

  2. What you need to say, is not necessarily what the other person needs to hear.

  3. A ritual gets you into a good mindset if you are about to enter a difficult conversation. Game on but I’m taking everything I have into it.


Helen has kindly written an article, “Creating safe spaces to inhabit in your workscape” which goes along with this episode. To read the article please visit:

To see all of Helen Palmer’s articles please visit:

Here are some articles from Brene Brown that sit well with our conversation.

Brene Brown - The Courage to Not Know

Brene Brown - Clear is Kind, Unclear is Unkind


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