Setting boundaries – How far do you let others go? (Part 1)

Everybody is talking about work-life balance. Like there’s an equal balance between the two. But how easy is it to set boundaries and actually live them?

Working in the Middle East, where the work week is Sunday to Thursday, I’ve often worked on Fridays, too. It was frustrating and took a toll on my family life. Until I’ve set up limits and started living by them. What a difference they’ve made to my life!

How can you improve your life by setting boundaries?

  • Be aware of situations when boundaries have been crossed. Do you feel like being pushed over, unable to speak or feel like crying? Do you feel overwhelmed, disrespected, stressed or drained by the comments or actions of the other person? These could be signs that the other person has crossed the unspoken line.
  • Identify your boundary, if not done so. How far can the other person go? Knowing your values can help you during this process. What’s important to you? Preparing a home cooked meal for your family after work may impact how much overtime you can do.
  • Express your boundary in a clear and direct way to the other person. If a friend wants to chat while you’re busy at work: “I’m focusing all my attention to work during the day. I’ve thus decided to make all personal calls in the evening. Right now, I can’t talk to you and will call you back tonight.” Here are some more examples. There’s no need to defend yourself or explain your decision. If needed, repeat your limits.
  • Start small. Unless you’re in a new job or are working with a new client, where you can define the principles at the beginning, make one change at a time. Start with one conversation with your boss, colleague or client. Track what’s working and use this for more changes in the future.
  • Setting boundaries means setting consequences. Don’t say something if you don’t follow through with the consequence. By not enforcing the consequence, you’re allowing the other person to continue with their behaviour.

In my next post, I’ll share some practical tips for setting and living by your office boundaries.

In the meantime, share how you set your boundaries in the comment box.

Looking forward to hearing from you,


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