The workplace can be an extremely toxic place. Some people are there to sabotage you or to use you to do their work. Not everyone has your best interests at heart, and for this reason, it becomes very important to establish boundaries.
While it is true that cultivating positive relationships in the office is important, you can’t afford to let it affect your work ethic or your work output. If you let them, people will play around with you. You must learn to present yourself in a way that makes them respect you, your time, and your decisions.
Here are 6 ways to establish boundaries within the workplace.
1. Learn how to say no
Depending on how you were brought up, some people are unable to say no. This is true not just in the workplace but also in other social situations. In order to set boundaries in the office, learn how to say no in the most respectful way possible. It makes people respect you and understand that you are not a yes-man.
For example, if you value rest from work on your lunch breaks, politely decline meeting invitations scheduled for that time. Another scenario when it’s OK to say no is when you’re offered extra work. Consider whether the work will help you directly achieve your goals, and if it doesn’t, go ahead and turn it down if it is possible to do so without risking your job.
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2. Identify your priorities
When you arrive at work in the morning, what is on your to-do list and how urgent is it? Once you have identified what must get done, do not compromise. Say no. Explain that you are held up, and if the person does not understand, that’s fine. Whether you’re trying to earn a promotion or just get through your workload by the end of the week, prioritize the tasks that will help you get there, and be mindful of overextending yourself.
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3. Silence your notifications
Let’s be honest, notifications are very distracting. Every time you get a notification regarding work, your mind shifts there and you become anxious. Outside of work hours, it’s important to silence your notifications.
You can also keep notifications away from you by removing work applications like Slack or Teams off your personal devices. Although they can be helpful during work, sometimes it’s not worth it to have notifications from coworkers constantly blowing up your phone or laptop.
4. Create clear structures
Sometimes you get called into an impromptu meeting which lasts much longer than necessary. This becomes a ripple effect that starts to affect your output. For this reason, it’s important to create clear structures.
One way to do this is to establish an agenda. An agenda puts you in control and positions you as a leader. You could also create structure by setting a meeting where one didn’t exist. A short weekly check-in might be more efficient than having your boss continually popping by your office unannounced.
5. Keep your relationships professional
There are a lot of benefits that come with establishing positive relationships with your co-workers. However, you need to keep these relationships professional. When people know that they can constantly play around with you, they will do just that. Everyone’s boundaries are different, so take inspiration from those whose boundaries align with yours.
6. Take time to respond
This is probably a little unconventional, but you should not always jump to respond to messages and emails. Take your time. This keeps you from saying yes to everything because then, you have time to sit with the idea in your mind and analyse it before making a decision.
For example, the next time your boss asks you to take a last-minute business trip, hit the pause button before responding. This technique will give you a chance to check in with yourself to determine whether you have a conflict. If needed, buy yourself time and say, “that might work, let me just check my schedule and get back to you.”
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