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Setting Boundaries at Work

Dr H Smith. July 2019

· Work,Mind

Setting boundaries at the work place requires a slightly different strategy than you might use with family members, spouses or friends. If you want to be productive and enjoy your work, you need to learn to set boundaries which will serve you well and set up lines of respect.

Do you have trouble speaking up if you think you’re being disrespected or is work being piled on you so that you’re falling behind and not spending time with family and friends? It’s important that you quickly address the situation and set clear boundaries about what you will and won’t tolerate.

You should begin your boundary-setting journey by thinking clearly about what’s bothering you at work and what you hope to gain by setting the boundaries. You also need to think about possible repercussions.

For example, if you’ve been working every weekend for the past year and are now going to refuse, there may be some eyebrows raised and you may feel uncomfortable. That’s normal and can be addressed by calmly and politely stating that you can no longer work the long hours.

When communicating your boundaries, don’t bring them all to the table at once. Begin slowly and keep moving forward with more boundaries after you get used to the conversations with those you discuss them with.

You’ll quickly see what works with your coworkers – and what doesn’t. Areas where you’ve felt frustrated and angry in the past will become clearer and you’ll realize that it actually feels good to establish lines of respect for your time and efforts.

If you’re being disrespected in some way by a boss at work, you may need to have a private conversation and express your feelings about whatever is leaving you frustrated and overwhelmed. Keep in mind that no one has the right to disrespect you or make your life miserable by demanding more than you can give.

How to Say No to Your Boss

Saying ‘no’ to your boss has got to be one of the more terrifying experiences in life. But sometimes you really can’t say ‘yes’ no matter how much you want to. How do you do that without being told to clean out your desk at the end of the day?

1. Why are you saying no? You can’t just say ‘no’ without reason. Before you even write that email or sit down to talk to your boss, have a clear understanding in your head about just why you need to say no.

2. Remind your boss of your current workload. Chances are this is the main reason why you’re saying ‘no’ in the first place. By reminding your boss that you’re already busy, you give them the opportunity to revamp your priorities.

3. Find a different solution. It could be that what your boss is suggesting isn’t feasible as things stand, but you see a different way. Offer them an idea of what to do next if you’re not able to pick up the task, which leads to the next option:

4. Find someone else to do it. Maybe part of your brainstorming session includes an idea of a different person within the company who not only has the time, but the exact skills to do what the boss needs.

5. Don’t forget to say ‘thank you.’ That is especially true when turning down an opportunity. Let your boss know that you appreciate them asking.

6. Buy yourself time. Rather than saying ‘no’ outright, tell your boss you’ll get back to them later. That gives you time to consider your schedule and whether or not you have time for this. If not, at least you show you gave the matter some deep thought.

7. Remember who’s boss. In the end, if you’ve given out alternative solutions or other specific options, acknowledge that whatever they decide is up to them – not you. That accords your boss the respect they deserve.

By remaining both respectful and professional, telling your boss ‘no’ doesn’t have to be terrifying. Remember that you’re all there for the same goal of trying to make the company a success. Part of that success is being able to give your best, which you can’t do when you’re so overworked that the quality of your work suffers. Even your boss can’t dispute that.

At first, you’re bound to be concerned about the consequences of setting boundaries in the workplace. It takes courage to speak up in any area of your life, but work is linked to your livelihood and self-worth.

Think about – and write down – what a possible outcome will be of you speaking up at work. Then create a scenario about how you’ll handle it. When you express your feelings with confidence and preparation, you’ll be and feel much more in control of your destiny.

This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy.This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.

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This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.