Set Yourself Free with Professional Boundaries

Agreeing to things that are too much to handle, or outside of your best interests compromises not only your mental health but also your relationships. Boundaries are a delicate matter. In most circles, and especially for women, it is more acceptable to avoid confrontation than to say “no” . However, this not only requires a massive amount of emotional labour, but in the case of workplace relationships: professional labour.

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Look Inward: Understand why you are setting the boundary

The office environment and social contract do not make setting boundaries easy. Understanding the intricacies why you would like to establish this boundary will not only bring clarity, but also help your communication. One response you will get is “why?”. Being able to answer this articulately will convey a sense of confidence, intuitiveness as well as comprehension. Introspection will almost certainly also ease the feeling of guilt that comes with standing up for yourself.

Decide the Magnitude 

Before setting a boundary, it’s important to determine if it’s a compromisable line or something that is resolute. Please note that both are valid. Taking the time to determine the extent of your limits will help you to understand yourself, your needs, and your goals. This is a very effective and crucial exercise in introspection. By just saying ‘no’ you are growing within yourself because you now understand your own limits. Knowing your limits will also help you clearer communicate your new boundary to your peers.

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Thank you for not apologising

It’s part of the social contract to avoid upsetting people to the very best of our abilities, especially when we can prevent that flash of disappointment across someone’s face. Feelings of guilt and obligation are difficult to unlearn. What’s arduous to learn is that you do not have to apologise for setting reasonable and well-thought out professional boundaries. Hopefully, those around you feel the same way. Whether they agree to your boundary or not, it is vital you do not apologise for setting a healthy limit. Another courteous response would be to thank them for their understanding and consideration.

Be Open & Clear

It is highly likely that people will disrespect your boundaries, often unintentionally. While we can indeed play the blame game, it would seem taking the time to understand where they’re coming from, and then providing responding appropriately. Be prepared to explain in a manner that you do not sound arrogant or uncompromising. Remember, boundaries are not a justification for you to say ‘no’ to things you simply do not want to do in the workplace. You should definitely not say ‘no’ to your boss too much, because this can lead to having no boss later.

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