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So... what exactly are boundaries and why are they important?

Boundaries are limits. Lines that should not be crossed.

Boundaries at work helps you:

  • Keep a professional image

  • Maintain positive relationships with coworkers

  • Protect your work-life balance

Types Of Boundaries At Work

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  • Keep some personal space between yourself and others when talking

  • Avoid making comments (whether positive or negative) about others' bodies

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  • Keep the focus on work when communicating electronically with coworkers

  • Don't text your coworkers unless it's part of the workplace culture

  • Think twice before "friending" coworkers on your personal social media. Do you really want them to see what you did last Saturday night?

  • Connect on LinkedIn for a more professional option

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  • Don't overshare details of your personal life, either in person or online

  • Avoid gossip

  • Try not to contact coworkers with questions during their off hours

  • If you are having a personal problem, talk with HR or your supervisor

Quiz

Which of the following is an example of an appropriate boundary at work?

What Would You Do?

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Jai works in a large, shared workspace. Jai's coworker, Kal, makes frequent phone calls to friends during work hours. During these calls, Kal talks and laughs loudly. It is really annoying. What should Jai do?

Quiz

What is Jai's best option?

Speaking Up... Courteously

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It can be difficult to speak up. But if you want to set boundaries, you will most likely need to communicate them at some point. Here are some ideas about how to express your boundaries to coworkers when conflicts arise:

  • Practice beforehand with a trusted (non-work) friend

  • Use notes so that you don't forget what you want to say

  • Remain calm, yet be firm

  • Propose a solution

  • Thank your coworker for listening

  • Get help from a supervisor if things become too difficult

Quiz

Which phrase could start a productive conversation?

Personal Time Is Precious

Flaticon Icon We all want to be good employees, and being a hard worker is admirable. However, taking time for yourself is important, too. Everyone needs to rest, recharge, and spend time with family and friends. If it's your day off or you take a vacation, do your best to set boundaries around your availability. And do the same for your coworkers when they are away from work!

Tip: If you usually get work messages on your phone, disable notifications while on vacation and move your email app to a less visible spot on your phone.

These days, more people are working from home. The line between work and personal life can get blurry. Here are some ideas for work-from-home boundaries:

  • Set up a dedicated workspace

  • Take breaks- schedule them in!

  • "Leave" work at the end of the day

Summary

Reflect | Respect | Respond

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Setting good physical, technology, and personal life boundaries at work can be helpful to your career and your well being. It is best to begin setting boundaries right from the start of a new job. But it's never too late to do so!

Here are some steps you can take now:

  • Reflect on boundaries that are important to you

  • Respect your own boundaries and other people's boundaries

  • Respond clearly and politely if a boundary is violated

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This Byte has been authored by

MD

Mary Ellen D'Intino

Learning Designer