How to Set Boundaries at Work
Published: Nov 06, 2023
As uncomfortable as it may feel to set boundaries at work, having solid boundaries is a key way to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. In this video, we show you how to tackle these tough conversations and excel in boundary setting. A transcript of the video can be found below.
Hi! I’m Emily with Vault and I’m here to help you set boundaries at work.
Setting solid boundaries at work helps you to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. As a result, setting boundaries can actually boost—not lessen—your productivity.
Although it can be uncomfortable to speak about boundaries with your coworkers and managers, clear boundaries are extremely important to have.
There are many different aspects of work-life you can set boundaries around, but today I’m only going to be talking about a few of them.
One workplace situation you might want to set boundaries around is a weekly after-work event that isn’t mandatory, like a happy hour meetup. While non-required events like these can be beneficial for team-building and networking, you might not want to take part in them or be able to take part in them. If you’re feeling pressured into going to an event that you won’t be attending, you could say something like this:
“Hey, thank you for the invite to happy hour tonight! While I’m sure it will be a great event, I’m going to have to decline your invitation. Every Friday night my family has a movie night and my kids always tell me it’s their favorite part of the week. I’m excited to catch up on Monday and see how it went!”
Another situation where you might set boundaries is around how much information you tell coworkers about your personal life. Some people like to keep their two lives completely separate, which is completely okay. If this sounds like you, here is something you can say to your colleagues.
Colleague: “Hey Emily! Did I see you on a brunch date on Sunday? Tell me all about it!”
Me: “I thought I saw you! I was on a date and it went pretty well. I prefer to not talk about it because I like to keep my personal life separate from my work life. But I’ll be sure to let you know if there is ever anything I want to chat about!”
And lastly, you might want to set boundaries around responding to messages. If you work 9 to 5 but are constantly getting messages at 11 p.m. and are expected to respond to them, you could approach the issue by saying something like this.
Manager: “Hey Emily, did you see my message from last night? I didn’t see a response from you.”
Me: “I did see your message! I was really happy to hear our client was happy. The reason I wasn’t able to respond to your message yet was it was sent after my working hours. I typically work from 9 to 6 Monday through Friday. In the early mornings and evenings, I have family commitments I need to attend to. Of course, I’m more than happy to reply to any messages as soon as possible during my regular working hours. Thank you for your understanding!”
Boundaries are all about establishing what you are and aren’t okay with in your work-life. Setting these expectations early will help your team understand how you work best.
For more career advice, check out Vault.com.