Whether you’re working from home or back in the office, setting boundaries is crucial to your overall mental and physical happiness at work. Learning how to create and enforce those boundaries can be a little harder, especially for women. Gender norms dictate that women should be “nice” and being too assertive can be seen as aggressive.
We think women should be able to say “No” and have that be a complete sentence. That’s why we’ve researched 5 habits you can start working on now to create and set healthy work boundaries if you’ve never tried before.
Know your boundaries
It’s difficult to set your boundaries if you’re not sure what they are. Take notes during a typical work week on various interactions with coworkers and how they make you feel.
Career and life coach Caroline Castrillon says, “Start by becoming more aware of those people and situations that cause you stress and anxiety. Write them down. If you notice yourself feeling angry, resentful or guilty, that’s a sure sign that you may need to reset a boundary or communicate it more clearly.”
Do this evaluation every few months to ensure that you know what your boundaries are even if a life situation changes.
Once you’ve learned where your boundaries are, communicate that with your team. Let them know you aren’t checking emails after 6pm, or that you won’t respond to work texts/calls over the weekend. Be sure this communication is clear on what your boundary is and concise. You don’t need to explain the why behind your boundaries.
Likewise, ask your coworkers about their boundaries. Show that you respect and reciprocate their boundaries. This helps build trust and ensures that future boundary discussions become common in your workplace.
Bring up violations when they happen
This might be the hardest if you’re soft-spoken or just unsure how to handle when it happens. But sitting around and waiting days or even months can make addressing it harder as the other person may not remember exactly what they did.
For example, “…if a coworker wants to gossip about another coworker – and you don’t want to get roped into the drama – tell them clearly and politely in that moment that you don’t want to participate, she said. This is much more effective than having your colleague spill the beans, and then telling them two weeks later that you wish they hadn’t told you, she said.”
Live your boundaries
It can be easy to say, “I won’t check emails after 6pm” but if you still catch yourself at 7:30pm checking and responding to emails, you’re showing others that your boundaries don’t really matter. This makes it easier for bosses and coworkers to ignore the boundaries you set.
Delete apps, turn off notifications, have an automatic email that sends after 6pm, whatever you need to do to ensure that you are practicing what you preach.
While we can think that ignoring our boundaries to make someone else comfortable will make life easier, it actually adds unnecessary stress, anxiety, and discomfort in our daily lives.
Prepare of boundary violations
Unfortunately, sometimes you’ll encounter people who react badly to your boundaries. They’ll get upset, act passive aggressively or even just assume they can ignore the boundaries you’ve set.
Prepare for these moments. Practice in the mirror on what you’ll say or type up a response for boundary breaking emails. You are allowed to have power in how you are treated.
Creating and setting boundaries can seem difficult. But if you practice these 5 acts frequently, you’ll find that keeping boundaries gets easier and your confidence grows.