We’ve all heard the term boundaries used especially in the sense of personal life, however, is this something we should implement in our professional lives as well?
We have all experienced uncomfortable feelings when pressured into doing something we’d rather not. It could be as simple as a colleague asking you to manage the applicants in the ATS, or something overwhelming like a manager expecting you to take on more reqs when you are already managing a full desk.
Being in a profession of service, I tend to say yes, all the time, with a fear that if I say no and provide reasons, I will feel guilty.
We are told and empowered to say no seems like such a simple thing, however, most of us (us women especially) have been taught from a young age that saying no to others reflects inflexibility and In our industry, some have come to believe that saying yes and accommodating others; (even to our disadvantage) is expected.
Why is saying no so hard?
Saying no to colleagues should not be hard, but it can be counter intuitive. We want to help our colleagues. We want to be a team player and pitch in but when we say yes and agree to doing more than we are capable of giving, it creates stress.
We’ve been conditioned since birth that we gain self worth from pleasing others and putting ourselves last.
I know as a parent; I am teaching my boys to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I am also teaching them to set boundaries respectfully. It’s ok to say no.
I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to find a balance.
But not being able to say no often leaves us with feelings of used, undervalued, and full of stress. As the unreasonable demands pile on and feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, burnout – and sometimes even depression – can arise.
There are three types of boundaries – physical, mental, and emotional.
Physical Boundaries relate to personal space and physical. Some people hate hugs.
Mental boundaries refer to your personal thought process. Everyone has different experiences, but you have the right to your own thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and values.
Emotional Boundaries will enable someone to differentiate their feelings from you. A person with strong emotional boundaries will not be shy to share their opinions, and will not take them personally if someone disagrees with them.
How can we apply these in the workplace?
I’ll try my best to guide you by my experiences and how they help me to be ok with setting boundaries. Again, we all want to be accepted and respected by our colleagues, including our leaders both in business that we partner with and our leaders within our staffing organization.
Saying no to co-workers or managers could feel like you are jeopardizing your career, something that can cause a lot of anxiety and in my experience, dealing with your managers too. Be aware if you catch yourself constantly feeling resentment, undervalued, or guilty in your interactions at work, this is a sign that boundaries are being violated.
When this happens, take a step back and and honestly look at your actions and your expectations. At times we expect our leaders or colleagues to automatically understand our boundaries and we tend to assume that there are respected boundaries set, There aren’t.
So, how do you set clear boundaries that will help establish how you share with your colleagues and leaders around how to respect you?
By setting boundaries you will earn the respect of your colleagues.
It’s easier to set boundaries at the beginning of the work relationship. So consider these, of course, we all have brains, so I am pretty confident that you will come up with what works for you.
- Be clear about your work boundaries
- Communicate boundaries clearly and be consistent
- Expect pushback and be ready to respond respectfully
- Evaluate your emotions constantly and change where necessary
- Boundaries at work essentially determine how much of yourself you give to your career.
- Some people are prepared to give almost all of themselves to their career, and that is
- their prerogative, but we all have our limits and need to recognize this in our profession.
- Bring it up, have round table discussions.
Setting effective boundaries takes time and boundaries come from a healthy sense of self-worth. It is not something we do for others; it is something we do for ourselves. Do some research and educate yourself on the topic as much as possible, share, educate others. Your relationships whether personal OR professional will hugely benefit as a result and in most cases will help all those around you. Be the change, be the voice of those who may not be strong enough to set their boundaries.