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  • Writer's pictureMorgan Cobb

Boundaries at Work

Boundaries at work are a hot topic right now. “Quiet Quitting,” has become a buzzword and a trend. It refers to the actions of an employee who institutes boundaries and stands by them. Sometimes boundaries have a negative connotation, but they are healthy and necessary for an individual to experience balance. What do boundaries really mean and how do you develop them?

Boundaries are what YOU do.

We cannot change others, we cannot control what they do or ask us to do, we can only change our behavior. That is where boundaries exist, in our behavior. Boundaries at work might mean stopping work at 5 pm or your contracted time. Setting boundaries at work might mean refusing to take on additional tasks without additional compensation. Boundaries do not have to be verbally expressed. Boundaries are often best expressed through actions. You may choose not to answer the phone after working hours or check emails on vacation.

Boundaries also refer to what kind of expectations we place on others. Some individuals show poor professional boundaries by refusing to accept no as an answer, sharing personal information with others when not appropriate, or expecting others to help provide emotional support when not suitable. We are responsible for both types of boundaries, both those we use to protect ourselves and those we use to respect others.

I know I need boundaries, how to I get them?

First it is important to understand that when you begin the journey of developing and maintaining boundaries it will be uncomfortable. It will be uncomfortable for you, and those around you, but in the end, it will benefit everyone.

You need to decide a point in your life where you want to develop and institute a boundary. Does your boss call after working hours? Do you find yourself working far over working hours? Do you serve as a “vent” person for your boss? Decide what would benefit you to change and decide what the change will look like. Now develop some small actionable steps. Develop your plan and work your plan. Be prepared for uncomfortable situations and create talking points to address individuals when you are challenged. One example would be rehearsing what to say when a boss asks you to work late, without additional pay. Or how to express that the personal details an individual shares are not appropriate.

How did I get here? Why don’t I have any boundaries? Why is it uncomfortable for me to put them in place?

Many individuals develop poor boundaries through codependency. Codependency is an inability to be comfortable with the discomfort of others. When an individual has patterns of codependency, they forgo their own boundaries and comfort to avoid the discomfort of others.

Some individuals develop poor boundaries through abuse. Codependency sometimes comes from situations where an individual is not safe emotionally or physically. Again, in this type of situation, the individual learns to put others before themselves.

Others develop poor boundaries due to poor modeling in their families. Even if a person isn't physically or emotionally abused themself, sometimes patterns of codependency follow generations. Individuals learn to take up as little space as possible through modeling from parents and other family members. Individuals never learn to create boundaries and when these individuals try to institute boundaries the first time it feels very foreign or wrong.

All these topics are great points to start with during counseling. A counselor can help you recognize your patterns of behavior and decide what you would like to change. Counselors help clients rehearse how to address individuals who challenge them as they create positive change in their lives. Counseling is also a great place to process how patterns have developed and create change for the future.

To learn more contact us and speak with one of our Licensed Professional Counselors

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