Saying No: The Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries at Work


Saying No: The Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries at Work

We're so often reminded about how important it is to be setting boundaries in both our personal and professional lives.

We're so often reminded about how important it is to be setting boundaries in both our personal and professional lives. But boundaries can be particularly difficult to navigate and instil, given how counterintuitive they can feel to social and cultural norms, making them a hot topic of discussion amongst Vyou users and in wider discussion spheres.  

So, what exactly is a boundary? 

There are various definitions of a boundary, but most tend to follow the same theme. According to IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program, a boundary is a limit or space between you and another person; a clear place where you begin and the other person ends. 

These can be applied to personal relationships with friends and partners, but also at work. They are as individual as we are; and mastering boundaries, for the majority of people, is an ongoing process. 

Why do we need to set healthy boundaries? 

The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is, of course, to protect and take good care of ourselves.

Healthy boundaries are a crucial component of self-care. That's because, according to Nelson (2016) in work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries lead to resentment, anger, and burnout.”.

Poor boundaries result in anger, burnout and resentment

More generally, the consequences of not setting healthy boundaries often include stress, financial burdens, wasted time, and relationship issues - which can cause mental distress” (Prism Health North Texas, n.d.). In other words, a lack of healthy boundaries can negatively affect every aspect of someone's life.

Not only do healthy boundaries protect emotional wellbeing, at work they become a key tool in maintaining Work Energy and as such, can be very beneficial when it comes to advancing roles and careers.

What do we get from setting boundaries?

This varies a lot from person to person but some of the common benefits of setting healthy boundaries include increased self-esteem and self-respect, the ability to share information gradually, in a mutually trusting relationship, protecting physical and emotional spaces from intrusion and developing increased levels of assertiveness. 

Healthy boundaries result in higher levels of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-respect

The benefits are vast. Boundaries can also help to separate needs, thoughts and feelings - and become increasingly self-aware.. 

What do unhealthy boundaries look like?

Just as healthy boundaries look different for everyone, unhealthy boundaries differ. But signs of unhealthy boundaries can include:

  • Sharing too much too soon or closing off and not expressing your needs and wants.
  • Feeling responsible for other people's happiness.
  • Inability to say no‚Äù for fear of rejection or abandonment. 
  • Weak sense of self identity; you base feelings about yourself on how others treat you.
  • Disempowerment; allowing others to make decisions for you then feeling powerless.

How to set boundaries

This is worthy of a blog post all of its own - and if forms one of the most popular Vyou webinar sessions to date. 

Before we give a very brief rundown, it's worth noting if this is the first time you've thought about adjusting your boundaries, or if you've struggled with setting them in the past, the most important thing to remember is that boundaries are a work in progress. Don't expect too much, and know that boundaries can change over time, too.

We could talk about this all day, but here's a very simplified way to establish your boundaries:

Befriend your emotions. 

Think back, when did you know the boundaries were crossed? In which situations have you felt uncomfortable, angry or sad? 

Understand your needs.

What needs were compromised with your boundaries being crossed?

Know where your boundary is? Communicate it.

Sharing is caring. Boundary communication is taking care of your relationships.

When it comes to communicating your boundaries, two factors can set you on the path to success: keeping it simple and refraining from over explaining. 

Still not sure where to start? Breaking it down into fact, emotion, consequence and expectations can help:

When you… (fact)

I feel… (emotion)

because… (consequences for me: my needs and values)

…And I would like us to (expectations)

When you… (fact) I feel… (emotion) because… (consequences for me: my needs and values)… and I would like us to (expectations).

Want to discover more?

In addition to self-reflection tools and one-to-one coaching sessions, Vyou offers its users a webinar series hosted by Vyou coaches - and the boundaries webinar has been one of the most popular to date.

The webinars are available to all users and delve deeper into topics such as boundaries, burnout and stress management - equipping users with simple, effective ways to implement change. 

Want to try Vyou? Request a call back or sign up for a no-obligation product demo.

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