The fusion of work and home is taking its toll on all of us. Workdays are longer, with the break normally found in a commute reduced to a few steps from bed to the home office.
Healthy boundaries are essential to any relationship, including the ones you have at work. Your personal limits are an expression of your values. They let others know what you care about and how you define acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Additionally, in your professional life, there’s the extra factor of how to meet your personal needs without risking your income. Responding to a client who oversteps can be more stressful than dealing with a friend or partner where you feel like you’re on an equal footing.
Setting boundaries enables us to be more productive by saying no to things that waste our time. Often I see clients with a belief that setting boundaries will damage their business or hurt their reputations, but the reality is that when it’s done the right way, it does just the opposite
Here are some strategies to try to set your boundaries:
Respect other’s boundaries
Treating your fellow team members with respect is fundamental. When you recognise and abide by their boundaries, they’re more likely to reciprocate.
Take care of your mental and physical wellbeing and feel confident about your worth. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Remember your accomplishments and treat yourself like a close friend.
Offer compromises and alternatives that allow everyone to meet their needs. Maybe you’d be happy to work some hours on the weekend to make time to help your child with schoolwork.
Be an advocate for yourself. Keep track of your accomplishments. Ask for feedback to help you evaluate your performance. When it is time to set a boundary, do it with confidence.
Know your limits
If you want others to honour your boundaries, it’s important for you to understand them first. Think about your core values and priorities. How will you react if someone keeps asking you to do something that makes you uncomfortable?
Talk it over
Be prepared to discuss your position. What’s important to you, what your values are, may be different from what’s important to your client. Communicate with each other instead of making assumptions.
Learn to say NO
There may be some issues where you just need to draw the line. Let the other person know your reasons when you think that you’re being asked to do something impractical, and again, see if there are alternatives you can offer up.
You might be tempted to let some frustrations slide, but consider the consequences. Others are more likely to recognise your limits if you stick to them.
Take time off
You need to protect your time as well as your self-esteem. Let others know what hours you’re available for work matters instead of checking emails, texts, and phone messages around the clock.