How To Set Healthy Boundaries At Work And Beyond – Forbes

Posted: October 6, 2020 at 9:52 pm


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Feel the freedom and reclaim your space.

Boundaries some love them, some dont. Its a trigger word for some, and then there are those who pride themselves on how easily they can block people and say no without any problems.

Actually, there are many kinds of boundaries. Maybe youre very good at setting one of them but not that skilled yet in another. Here comes a non-exhaustive list of different kinds of boundaries:

-physical boundaries: especially nowadays, we encounter this one almost on a daily basis. The person next to you doesnt respect the safety distance, your colleague doesnt wear a mask and comes too close to you. And in pre-Covid times an example would be that a stranger or even a person close to you simply doesnt respect your personal space and makes you feel uncomfortable.

-material boundaries: does someone always borrow your clothes without asking? Did your colleague take your keyboard because his/hers was missing and forgot to tell you about it? Do you like to borrow small amounts of money for a coffee and dont return the favor? All of these are material boundaries, it could be money or actual things.

-mental boundaries: how well do you know your values and how far are you willing to stretch them? Do you consider yourself an open-minded person? How quickly do you judge others? Mental boundaries want to protect our beliefs, our values and opinions. Sometimes it might help to leave a little space open to new views and opinions and to see afterwards if you might want to expand your mental boundaries or not.

-emotional boundaries: this is most probably the gold standard of all boundaries. Once you manage to preserve your emotional boundaries, youre already very far in your personal development journey. Emotional boundaries are about separating your emotions from someone elses emotions. Its about being aware of your own emotions and to not let someone else parasite you with their emotions. Be aware of so-called emotional vampires who want to suck your emotions out of you and leave you feeling exhausted or guilty after you saw them.

All of the boundaries mentioned above are linked to a space sometimes an actual space or a space that you preserve for your thoughts, emotions and values. Its an intimate space that can be fragile sometimes and that needs your attention. Be careful about who you let enter your space, and reclaim it if needed. This space is above all yours and only you have the power and responsibility to decide how you want to treat it, and if you want to expand or downsize it from time to time. As usual, its always a question of balance and it takes some time to feel into certain situations and get an understanding of which boundaries havent been respected from your side or from someone elses. Be aware that its only you who holds the power over your boundaries.

To train your boundary muscle, here are a few tips that will help you to set healthy boundaries at work and beyond:

1.Identify the stressor: next time you feel that your boundaries have been crossed, try to identify who or what is at the source. Ideally, you can identify the who, the when and youll get some extra credit for the why. Joke aside, when you manage to identify the why, youll have the key to work through it. The why will be related to one of the different boundaries explained above and as soon as youve categorized it, its easier to take a step back.

2.Take a helicopter view: analyze the situation from afar. Especially with a bit of distance, its easier to have more clarity of who is crossing one of your boundaries and when it usually happens. It also helps to write all of this down so you can see it in front of you and get it from your head and heart onto paper. Consequently, it becomes a list of facts and less emotional.

3.Choose your words wisely: once youve identified the different players involved in your boundaries game, its important to prepare yourself for the boundaries test because it will come. It helps to always start with I (as clear as it may sound) as you want to explain your part of the story and perspective on the situation. It can be as simple as I think that I need more space if someone literally comes too close. Or: I need to think about it and will get back to you if someone wants to add another task to your to-do list. Its important to explain yourself and to not apologize or justify yourself. Its about setting clear boundaries and not having to apologize for them. Nonviolent communication is also a great help in finding the right words for difficult situations.

4.Reclaim your space: By expressing how you feel, what you need or what a certain behavior does to you, you not only make yourself heard but you literally reclaim your space. And if the other person doesnt want to listen or there are too many emotions occupying the space, it also helps to simply leave the space, take a break and return after everyone has cooled down. Yet, before you leave, make sure to express it. I need to breathe a bit. Lets continue the conversation later.

5.Create your personal mantra: This one is a little bonus. In situations when your boundaries arent being respected and you feel belittled, not seen or heard, and you feel that someone went too far, there might be an inner critic telling you that maybe you are difficult or you are exaggerating. Your personal boundaries mantra will help you to silence the inner critic and speak to you from a place of self-compassion. It can be I matter, I am enough or I deserve respect. Pick a short sentence that you can quickly remember and that will help you to re-center.

You deserve your space and this space should be spacious. Depending on the day, phase and area of your life, this space can be sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger, but it is yours and yours only. Its not easy to set boundaries and understand how far you want someone to go, but its worth training that muscle and reclaiming your space. Youll be surprised how others will perceive you and how they might even respect you more. Its worth it. Youre worth it.

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How To Set Healthy Boundaries At Work And Beyond - Forbes

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October 6th, 2020 at 9:52 pm