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How to Establish Boundaries at Work

Boundaries are something you may not realize you need to have for self-care until you realize you don’t have them. This is true in our personal lives as well as professional. When it comes to work, boundaries are absolutely critical to ensure personal and team success. As a peer recovery specialist, boundaries are essential to our work. They provide emotional, physical and mental safety for all involved. Below, I have listed areas of importance to assess your level of healthy boundaries at work.

Professional Boundary Analysis

1. Seek help – Sometimes we feel like asking for help and often we don’t. To have strong work boundaries, we have to be able to sit in the internal discomfort of asking for help from our boss and/or teammates. Most bosses welcome questions and are willing to help. Give it a try. You may be surprised to find a great ally.

2. Conduct an audit – How is your work contributing to the overall mission of the organization? Brutal honesty, while a little harsh sounding, is the order of the day. If we are not honest, we cannot change. Notice I did not say beat yourself up. Just take a good look inside and notice areas you can improve.

3. Set limits – Maybe you need advance notice before having to travel to work in order to get into the right head space. Maybe you need to adjust your evening schedule to maximize your sleep so you cannot work overtime. Experiment and remember you get all the benefits of well-placed boundaries.

4. Communicate clearly – Words have power. Try saying this: I am a sophisticated rhetorician inebriated with the exhuberance of my own verbosity. Translation: I am a stuck-up word expert intoxicated with my own wordiness. While it is a fun statement, if said quickly, people are really taken aback. The question I pose to you is how do people receive your communication? Is it clear? Does it provide the results you are after in the workplace? If not, perhaps you are not a sophisticated rhetorican…(y.e.t. = you’re eligible too)

5. Delegate more – No person is an island. This is especially true in work. We need to do an analysis of what the job expections are, how well we are doing and where are we feeling overwhelmed and need to lean on a boss or teammate or both? In addition, if there is an area(s) where you struggle to excel, it makes sense to find a teammember who excels in that area and then you can set a boundary that you need assistance in that area because it is not your specific skillset therefore you will not be doing that particular part of your job without considerable support.

While uncomfortable to set in the beginning, boudaries are the key to freedom at work and in life. What boundaries do you need to set at work?

~ Chris Newcomb

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