Whether it’s with your co-workers, managers, bosses or anyone else at work, having healthy boundaries is vital. But what are healthy boundaries exactly, and how do you set them? Here’s some advice.

What are healthy boundaries?

A healthy boundary is a sort of “line” you draw when it comes to the way others are and are not allowed to treat you. Different people have different boundaries, and you have the right to set boundaries in every area of your life.

Healthy work boundaries can be related to the conditions of your employment, or with you maintaining your privacy and your right to a safe, comfortable work environment. An example of a work related boundary is how many hours you’re able to work every day. A manager pressuring you to work outside of the hours you’ve initially agreed to, for example, is a violation of the boundaries you’ve communicated with them regarding when you’re available (and unavailable) for work. Another example can be setting boundaries for your personal space and belongings.

Learning your boundaries

Learning more about yourself is a key component to identifying which boundaries are most important to you. Whether you value your privacy, your work-life balance or your beliefs and morals, get in touch with yourself first so you have a clearer idea of what your boundaries look like.

Consider past boundary violations you’ve experienced, and would like to avoid in future. Be kind to yourself, and don’t think you’re being silly for putting up certain boundaries- especially if you’ve been through a traumatic experience in the past, or have special needs, which make you more sensitive to certain behaviours than others.

Communicating clearly

Clear communication is vital in setting up your boundaries in a way that everyone at your workplace understands. Avoid grey areas and vagueness- be polite, but still clear and firm. Be wary of anyone who persists in misinterpreting your words, or acts as though they still don’t understand after you’ve repeatedly and clearly communicated your boundaries with them.

No exceptions

A key part of maintaining your boundaries is acting immediately and consistently if they happen to be violated. This means that, once you’ve set your boundary, should someone violate it, you should take immediate action appropriate to the situation.

Rights and responsibilities

Just as you have a right to set boundaries, so does everyone else at your office. Remember to always respect the boundaries of others, and be considerate and understanding of their personal wishes.

Another aspect of responsibility in the workplace is honouring any agreements and contracts you’ve entered into. Your boundaries may be violated if you’ve agreed to this in a contract, so be careful and remember to read everything before signing up to or agreeing to any contract.

When it comes to setting healthy boundaries at work, the earlier you start, the better. Remember that you show others how they should treat you, so know your worth and don’t allow yourself to be mistreated or exploited. Good luck!

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