Setting Healthy Boundaries

A boundary is a figurative line an individual draws that makes the limits of what they will and won’t tolerate. Healthy boundaries directly improve your mental, physical, or emotional well-being and develop respect in the workplace.

Setting Boundaries at Work

To set healthy boundaries, you need to be aware of what you expect from other people as well as yourself by developing a strong sense of self-awareness. Take time to think about what you are and are not comfortable with in various aspects of your life.

Setting boundaries in the workplace can be particularly difficult. If you’re interviewing for a new position, if your working conditions aren’t benefiting you, or even just working with your team every day – setting boundaries right away is essential and it is never the “wrong” time to do so.

When you know exactly what you want to communicate, take these steps:

  • Practice good communication and be as clear as possible about your message.
  • Make a list of the terms you need to function your best at work. Think about the structure of your workday and timelines of your projects and how your boundaries will benefit the organization by increasing your productivity and efficiency.
  • Remain professional in your relationships while at work. Blurring the lines between being friends and colleagues can make boundary-setting more complicated.
  • Learn how to assert yourself and say “no” when needed.
  • Use straightforward terms, for example, starting with “I need…” or “I will not…” instead of leaving your needs up to interpretation.
  • Avoid saying things like, “I’m not really okay with…” or “I don’t really like…”
  • Be prepared for the different responses you may receive. Your boundaries may be well-received, or you may need to accept dissatisfaction from others.
  • Be ready to compromise or negotiate. Understand where you can and cannot have flexibility – and be firm in communicating this when finding a middle ground.

This last point is particularly difficult for people who aim to please others but remember that just because someone does not like a boundary you’ve set doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong. Know what you need and what you deserve and be ready to communicate those needs clearly.

Remember – remain firm, yet professional, as the boundaries you set aim to improve your sense of well-being.