How Do Boundaries Help You to be Happy at Work?

“Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits a person creates to identify reasonable safe and permissible ways for other to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes these limits.” Wikipedia: .  Boundaries protect us and are necessary for a positive self-image. They will help you to be happy at work.  Do you have boundaries?  How are they serving you?
Here are 10 situations that I had at work where I knew I needed strong boundaries. Sometimes I was prepared but most of the time I was not. It helps to think about these before they happen so you can plan what to do.

  1. Privacy – What personal information was I willing to share with my colleagues, my boss and on social media? I needed a plan for each one.
  2. Interruptions – When was I available for questions from my direct reports and when did I need to be left alone so I could complete and deliver my work on time?
  3. Romantic Relationships – Some offices have rules about this but mine did not. Was I open to an office romantic relationship and the gossip that would ensue?  How would I respond to flirtations?  This was long before #metoo.  Having strong boundaries and moving forward were difficult in some offices.  Has this changed?
  4. Additional work – Sometimes I was asked to help a colleague which normally I was glad to do but when I was working overtime to meet a deadline that became an issue I needed to address. Sometimes the request came from the colleague and sometimes from my boss or his/her boss.  How do you say “no” without jeopardizing your career?
  5. An invitation – Often work colleagues invited me to nonwork related events. How do I decline an invitation that I wasn’t interested in and did not want to take my personal time to go to.  How did I refuse the event and maintain my relationship with the colleague?
  6. Holding my space – Have you ever had a colleague or boss who gets literally “in your face”? He or she is as close to you as is possible without actually touching.  Or maybe you have had one that actually does touch you to pull you closer.  My natural inclination was to pull back i.e. take a step backward.  What do you do when that doesn’t work?
  7. Inappropriate jokes – People in the office told and emailed jokes that were misogynistic, anti-Semitic, and ones that diminished other ethnic groups. I needed to be clear I would not tolerate hearing or reading those kinds of jokes.
  8. Chairperson by default – When no one wants to lead a committee or task force I often felt pressured to volunteer. How do I keep quiet and keep my hand down while feeling uncomfortable in the silence?  What do I do if someone “volunteers” me?
  9. Making fun of other colleagues – I was part of a management team that made fun of some of the support personnel. I did not participate in this but I still felt uncomfortable both laughing and not laughing with the team and not defending the people they ridiculed.
  10. Overpowering colleague – What do you do when you have a talkative colleague who monopolizes the meeting and doesn’t give anyone else space to talk. This person overpowers the group in attendance and no one is able to break through.

Coaching Will Help You to Develop Strong Boundaries

Having difficulty keeping strong boundaries?  Sometimes you know what you want to do but it takes a lot of courage to do it.  Having a coach to support you and practice with you will help you to see what you want to do and to accomplish it.  I’d love to be your coach!  Email me at or call me at 781-598-0388 to uncover what you need to be happy at work!




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