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how can workplace boundaries lead you o a healthier work life

How can Boundaries at Workplace lead you to a healthier work-life?

What are boundaries?

Any relationship runs on certain unsaid norms. These unrecognized rules form the basis of interactions among people. In general, every person has particular needs and a clear picture of what they want and don’t want. Boundaries strengthen these choices for the individuals. Unfortunately, people often fail to establish clear boundaries in many areas of their lives. It is primarily a consequence of low self-esteem. A strong habit of appeasing others to get their affection also contributes to this. These behaviors harm in the long run. Therefore, establishing clear and concise boundaries is essential. The beginning of a relationship is the appropriate time to do so. And this includes workplace boundaries too!

What are boundaries at the workplace? 

In a professional setting, the expectations and returns are negotiated beforehand. Yet, people usually have to deal with unfair expectations. A boundary between your personal and professional lives is essential as well. A culture of toxic workaholism exists in some of these spaces. Hence, issues like these steal time and effort away from your personal life. At times, toxic people attempt to disrupt your flow. In particular, boundaries help you navigate them too.

Boundaries at the workplace guarantee a clear mutual understanding of what is to be done. Workplace relationships also need clear boundaries to limit the scope of manipulation and exploitation. Strong boundaries in the workplace fill the workers with security and confidence. As a manager, you can ensure that the personal boundaries of your team members are respected. 

Advantages of workplace boundaries 

As everything comes with the good and the bad, so do boundaries. So let us first understand the advantages we get by creating workplace boundaries. 

Avoid stress

Avoid stress at the workplace by communicating your boundaries clearly. An employee feels secure in a safe environment that respects their choices. Politics, groupism, and conflicts at the workplace become major worrying factors. Mental stress added on by work-life reduces productivity. You can manage relationships at the workplace more effectively If personal boundaries are explicitly mentioned right from the start. Mutual respect for personal boundaries goes a long way in fostering a healthy culture that enables efficiency. 

Manage expectations

By establishing boundaries, you can manage people’s expectations of you. Similarly, it is beneficial for workers to understand their expectations from them clearly. In the absence of undefined boundaries, additional burdens pile up. You might find it difficult to say no to such things. In addition, huge expectations in terms of performance can cause stress. An assertive negative answer to an expectation that seems unjustified saves you from the unnecessary burden and associated stress as well.

Fewer conflicts

You can create a conflict-free work-life by clearly communicating your boundaries to your colleagues. Breach of personal boundaries, disrespect, politics, and unfair demands quickly become the root of conflicts. In addition, disputes at the workplace usually create negative ramifications for the environment. Boundaries here act like traffic signs that help you avoid an accident. They inform you how and where you can move without running into trouble. 

Reduce workplace harassment

Unfortunately, harassment is normal at many workplaces. The harassment can take many forms – mental, economic, or sexual. This makes having boundaries vital for employees, especially those who hold less powerful positions and are, therefore, vulnerable to exploitation. Women and marginalized groups need special attention within this. Consequently, some boundaries must be set across the organization by the management to protect its employees.

Maintain self-esteem and confidence

Lastly, but most importantly, healthy boundaries are a corollary to healthy self-perception. People who are usually low on self-esteem tend to lack boundaries. On the contrary, creating helpful boundaries helps employees improve their self-esteem. Boundaries are thus the key to having a dignified and confident workforce that feels valued for their work and effort. Thereby, boundaries become a core element of a workplace culture that empowers employees.

Disadvantages of workplace boundaries

On the flip side, some impacts of creating boundaries can also be harmful. This blog lists a few of them for your reference.

Misunderstanding and differences

Understanding that the culture of having boundaries is not normalized to a healthy extent is essential. A move to create boundaries in a world not predisposed to respect them is sure to cause some noise. Your behavior will be termed rude or arrogant by some people when you start to establish boundaries. Consequently, opposition and conflict won’t come as a surprise. You should clearly explain the reason and importance of such boundaries to others. 

Rigidity

While establishing boundaries, you should take care to be considerate. Some boundaries can come off as harsh and rigid to others, who may then have a hostile reaction to them. Also, your limits do not have to be written in stone. The scope for improvements should always be allowed. As knowledge increases, you may understand better and then change the boundary per a pragmatic understanding of the situation. Rigid boundaries allow for conflicts due to hard stances. 

Responsibility imbalance

When boundaries are established, people might try to give up some of their responsibilities. Those responsibilities become an additional burden for others. As a result, such a situation creates a responsibility imbalance arising due to the creation of boundaries by one person. This makes an untenable position for the other employees. Therefore, it is crucial to have just, considerate and empathetic boundaries. Boundaries must not be used as a tool to avoid work. 

Distance

When a border is added, a separation is created. In this way, distance can creep into relationships as well. Relationships with other employees or managers will appear impersonal when you establish boundaries. The formality of those interactions comes to the fore. This has the potential to weaken the bonds that exist in the workplace. Difficulties arise in creating mutual trust and loyalty. Distant relations can then hamper an organization’s harmonious environment and smooth functioning workflow.

Resentment

Resistance is expected in the face of change. However, in some instances, the resistance turns into resentment towards those making the moves. This resentment becomes the cause of strife that harms the organization’s culture. It again shows that clear communication holds vital importance. Also, resentment can come from people who can no longer continue their unjust behaviors. The management should help their employees become assertive and retain their confidence in the face of microaggressions. 

How can you create workplace boundaries? 

As we have seen, even though setting workplace boundaries brings many benefits, it can also be the root of strife. To avoid such a situation, you can follow a simple three-step technique while setting boundaries.

Access and understand

When you think of establishing boundaries, it is critical to understand who you are as a person and where your priorities lie, as those are the things that those boundaries are meant to protect. Access your role and responsibilities towards work in detail. See what you can and should do and the opposite of it. Take note of situations that affect you negatively. While doing so, take care to remain considerate of others and your environment. A good understanding forms the basis of healthy boundaries.

Establish and communicate

Communicate your personal boundaries explicitly after you have set them. Communicate your boundaries to the people who work with you. Miscommunication has great potential to create strife. In doing so, you run the chance of facing resistance. Uninhibitedly exercise your right to say no in such instances. However, ensure that you remain polite and do not let their ideas take space in your mind. 

Be assertive and maintain

When you have established your boundaries, maintain them diligently. You can take the help of a pre-planned routine or structure in doing so. Reinforce your boundaries when someone attempts to break them down. Remain confident in your choices and yourself. Stick to your boundaries for the larger good, even if it seems tempting to break them. Continue to be assertive in the face of any or all difficulties.

Some examples of essential workplace boundaries can be availability hours. If you don’t wish to participate in work-related activities after hours, make it known that you will only accept calls until 7 PM. Similarly, you can clarify that you wish to engage in professional conversations only with your coworkers. Through all of it, learn to say no and remain polite while doing it.

Conclusion 

After going through both the positive and negative impacts of establishing boundaries in the workplace, we understand that boundaries are indeed important. But, sometimes, they affect negatively as well in totality. They safeguard employees effectively and consequently need to be in place. Communication is vital while establishing boundaries. The management can facilitate the smooth conduct of the process of creating boundaries. 

Be more assertive with your communication!

Download the free assertive communication toolkit to understand frameworks and samples that help you become more assertive.

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