‘No’ - this little word has so much power when it comes to protecting our mental health, yet so many of us find it impossible to say it, especially at work.
Whether you’re working in the office, remotely or a bit of both, when saying no to a request from your manager or colleague does it make you feel guilty, selfish or like you’re letting them down? While on the other hand, saying yes makes you feel resentful, angry, or stressed?
If so, it’s time to set some boundaries. Without them, you could be heading towards workplace burnout…
Boundary setting = a healthier, happier workforce
As defined by DBSA, boundaries are “rules or limits that someone establishes to protect their security and wellbeing around others.”
Having rules or limits on what you are and aren’t willing to do in the workplace doesn’t make you sassy or too big for your boots. It makes you happier, healthier, and more productive – the ideal employee if you ask us!
We get that it’s hard to set healthy boundaries, particularly with ever-changing workplaces and an ‘always-on’ culture that seems to have worsened during lockdown. However, we see the start of this post-pandemic work era as the perfect opportunity to begin identifying, setting, and communicating your limits, once and for all.
To give you a helping hand, here’s our three key steps to becoming a boundary setting boss (and we’re not just talking to employers, employees this one’s for you too!)…
Unfortunately, we can’t ask Alexa to call out a list of boundaries that we should set. These rules are a deeply personal choice and are likely to be completely different from your co-workers.
Start by reflecting on what you really want and need to help your wellbeing in the workplace. Here’s some food for thought:
-Do you need to cut back on meetings to be more productive?
-Are you comfortable attending in-person work events again?
-Are you happy with being contacted outside of your set working hours?
-Do you have the capacity for extra work being allocated to you?
Once you’ve identified your limits, it’s time to clearly communicate them to your people.
If asked to do something that you don’t want to do, politely but firmly decline with that simple word ‘no’ and try to be transparent if asked why.
If the age-old meeting gesture of handshaking now makes you feel really uncomfortable and you’d rather elbow-bump or not touch at all, simply say upfront when approached by colleagues or clients.
If members of your team are renowned for contacting you outside of work hours, let them know your cut-off time for answering calls or emails.
Wherever you choose to draw the line – clear communication is always key.
It’s all well and good setting boundaries, but to effectively protect your mental health, sticking to them is essential. That means, not making any exceptions without thinking it through carefully and restating your limits to those that are starting to creep over the line.
While it’s important to stick to boundaries at the time that they are relevant, we must be aware that they will change along with our circumstances. That’s why regular self-reflection and acknowledgement of how you’re feeling is crucial. If something feels uncomfortable, it could be a clue within that a new boundary is required.
Ultimately, boundaries can help staff positively navigate through the workplace, with greater self-esteem, less anxiety and stress and on a clear path to perform at their happiest, healthiest self.
Here at Key Wellbeing we help employees to create better, healthier working habits with timely wellbeing resources and support. If you would like to find out more please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!