Need to Set Better Boundaries? These 5 Rules Will Help You Get Happier at Work
Picture source: Forbes
Boundary predators are easy to find at work. These include your boss asking you to work on weekends when you're hosting a family wedding or a client introducing more senior team than you'd agree to twice, or a team leader giving you more work than your co-workers. Whether it's your coworkers or your boss, communicating your needs can be like walking a tightrope. A stern "no" can be enough to bring you down. But if you don't say anything, you'll let others take up more of your time and energy, which will keep you from performing at your best. We're happy to report that it's doable. But setting boundaries requires self-awareness and a willingness to have (possibly) uncomfortable conversations. With practice, it will become second nature.
Here are 5 principles to help you create healthier boundaries in your work:
1. Be hyper-specific with your boundaries
Ambiguous borders don't work. Note how specific it is, both in terms of input (what others do) and output (what you would do in return). Also, note that it's specific in the sense of specific actions and behaviors: “If a particular action X occurs, a particular action Y will result”. There are a hundred and one reasons why precise limits are better than vague ones. But the important thing is that specific limits are more likely to work than vague ones. If you want your boundaries to be effective, make them clear.
2. Don’t set boundaries you’re not willing to enforce
Let's say you want your manager to stop emailing and texting you about "urgent" things to do in the evenings and weekends. If you see their "urgent" email at 10 pm right when you go to bed, then decide to open it, read and finally reply to it because the thought of not replying makes you nervous, your crystal clear boundaries have not worked even just a little bit. You actually made it worse by setting boundaries but not enforcing them, you are teaching people not to respect your boundaries. So before you set your great clear boundary, just make sure you're ready to do the really hard work of enforcing that boundary when the time comes.
3. Give praise when your boundaries are respected
Unfortunately, many people will only change their behavior if there are consequences for it, hence the first two points above. But that doesn't mean everyone isn't affected by positive reinforcement and rewards either. While it's essential to be clear when setting your boundaries and be consistent in applying them, it really helps to reward those who stick to them. Because while rewards aren't usually enough to get people to stick with your boundaries at first, they can do wonders to get them to stick with them over time. In particular, praise is often especially helpful as a reward for a well-respected boundary.
4. Avoid moralizing your boundaries
A lot of well-meaning limits don't work because people define them as an ethical question of right and wrong. Right or wrong, sometimes other people treat us badly. Instead of groaning and gritting your teeth at the injustice, you have a decision: Walk away or do what you can to improve the situation with better boundaries. And if you choose the latter option, it's probably much better for everyone if you avoid thinking about the morals of what should or shouldn't and focus on what is.
5. Clarify the why behind your boundaries
Trying to work on unhealthy boundaries can be exhausting and emotionally draining. Of course, that's one of the main reasons people avoid doing or don't do well. Stress and difficult emotions often push us to let go of our limits. The solution is to "override" this pull with an even larger pull: Your values. When you take a moment to remember the big picture and why it's really important to set and enforce your boundaries, you'll be surprised at how emotionally difficult it can be. can endure.
Source: Medium, Harvard Business Review, Better Up