Do you cringe when you consider setting boundaries at work? Learn what it takes to be able to set healthy boundaries without the guilt!
I. Boundary Defined
When it comes to setting boundaries at work, we must be clear about what boundaries are and are not. For the purposes of this article, a boundary is “communicating to someone the actions you will take if someone violates your personal, mental or emotional space.”
For example, healthy boundaries can look like:
- “If you assign me extra work, then I will put other projects on hold until I am through with the new assignment.”
- “If you insist on yelling at me in your office, I will leave and reschedule for another time.”
- “If you are more than 10 minutes late to our meeting, I will leave out of respect for my limited time.”
In contrast, a boundary does not include making threats. It does not include manipulation or harassment. Nor does it take the shape of trying to control another person.
For example, unhealthy boundaries can look like:
- “If you assign me extra work, I will have to look for another job.”
- “If you insist on yelling at me in your office, I will start recording our conversation.”
- “If you are more than 10 minutes late to our meeting, I will send you reminders for every minute I wait.”
How do you know if the boundary you want to set is reasonable? It depends on one thing: your motivation!
II. Emotional Decisions
As a general statement, it is fair to state that our emotions drive us. Emotions, or energies, motivate us to behave certain ways, to treat people as we do, and to make the decisions we make.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “don’t make an emotional decision?” The idea behind this phrase is that a decision (or any action) made from negative energy will most likely yield a negative result. Let’s apply this to boundary-setting: a boundary set from negative energy will increase the chances of a negative result.
Why is this so? Because of what’s referred to as the top-down approach to thoughts, feelings, and actions. It works like this. Thoughts, which start at the top with your brain, trickle down into your nervous system and help create your emotions, or energy. This energy then drives your actions.
Therefore, we always want to set boundaries from a positive head space.
And you might have a rebuttal – you might say, “but Gina, this person is disrespecting me, they’re making me look like a fool … how am I supposed to set boundaries from a positive energy when they get me so wound up?”
III. Cause and Effect
Ah, great question!
It’s called the ability to practice self-awareness, self-care, and self-respect. In other words, practice unconditional self-love.
When your identity and confidence are anchored in the love and appreciation you hold for yourself, then it’s easy to set healthy boundaries. Especially when the boundaries are difficult to express.
I will share one of my favorite quotes from stoic philosopher Epictetus: “When anyone provokes you, be assured that it is your own opinion which provokes you.”
In conclusion, self-love and self-respect are the cause; setting healthy boundaries is the effect. Setting boundaries at work can feel insurmountable when you lack the critical foundation of self-love.
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