Why setting boundaries at work is as important as in your personal life



Many of us know we need to set boundaries in our personal life, whether that be with friends, family members, or romantic partners. When it comes to our careers, it can often be a bit harder to establish boundaries and look out for ourselves; with income and future success on the line, sometimes it’s easier to roll over and put up with things that don’t serve us.  

However, for your long-term wellbeing, it’s important to set boundaries at work, as well as at home. In this issue of The Pulse, we look at why.  

The benefits of boundary-setting.  

Ensuring you set healthy boundaries at work isn’t just good for you. It benefits your entire team, as well.  

Clear communication of your boundaries allows everyone working with you to understand your limits, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses on the job. This doesn’t mean you’re never going to be pushed outside your comfort zone – that’s still a healthy part of growth – but by communicating your boundaries, your colleagues will understand how to best work with you, leading to everyone’s success. 

Likewise, establishing and sticking to healthy boundaries helps build your self-esteem, protect your emotional and mental wellbeing, and prevent burnout. 

What does this look like in the workplace? 

Obviously, boundary setting in the workplace is going to look a little different than in your personal life. Especially if you’re trying to set a boundary with a supervisor. It may involve a little more tact or subtlety in some situations, and assertiveness in others.  

There are many strategies you can implement to effectively establish boundaries.  

Prioritization.  

Reflect on and prioritize what’s most important to you in setting boundaries. You may be able to set hard lines in some areas but need to compromise in others. Being clear about where you’re flexible and where you are not critical to setting and maintaining boundaries. 

Clear, respectful communication.  

If someone has crossed a line or made you feel uncomfortable, tell them. Be honest but respectful when approaching a situation, not confrontational.  

Follow through.  

If you set a boundary, but don’t follow through, you’re giving others precedent to continue to overstep your boundaries.  

Practice ways to say “no.” 

You can’t always say no on the job. However, there are a lot of situations where you should. It can be hard to find the right words, so have a toolbelt of effective, assertive ways to say no. These can include: 

  • “I’m not comfortable with that.” 
  • “I can’t take that on right now.” 
  • “My plate is already pretty full.” 

Utilize your “out of office” and “do not disturb” functions.  

We’re trained to be on all the time in the digital age. Putting on your “do not disturb” function outside of work hours, or during busy work periods, is a way of setting a boundary about your work-life balance.  

Ask for help when you need it.  

Don’t struggle alone. If your workload is too much, or a co-worker is violating boundaries, seek support from the systems available in your workplace.  

In conclusion… 

Boundary-setting is a critical skill in all aspects of life, including in the workplace. When everyone communicates and follows their colleagues’ boundaries, we’re all more likely to succeed and avoid burnout.