How To Chat To Your Manager About Setting Work Boundaries

A CEO and team member talk business.

Setting boundaries at work is important, but it can be difficult. Use these tips to make sure you feel comfortable with the personal boundaries you set to maintain your emotional health and safety at work.

Be Upfront about what is and isn’t working in your schedule and workload

The first step to establishing healthy boundaries at work is being up-front about what is and isn’t working in your schedule and workload. If you have a workload that is overwhelming, it may help to get some assistance from others. Be honest about what you can do on your own, as well as when and how much help you need.

The second step is being clear with yourself about what makes sense for you when it comes to scheduling time off, taking personal time during the workday (like lunch breaks), or taking vacations away from the office. If there are things that aren’t working or fit into these categories, speak up! It’s important that we all feel comfortable enough with each other so we can openly share our needs without fear of judgment or repercussions.

Be clear, direct and honest about your needs

If you’re going to be successful in establishing healthy boundaries at work, then it’s important that you are up-front about what you can and cannot do. You need to be honest with yourself as well as others about the time commitments you have outside of the office, such as family obligations or a demanding personal life. It may also be helpful to let people know when they can expect your help (e.g., “I’m available on Tuesdays between 1 p.m.–3 p.m., but only by phone”). If someone asks for more of your time than is reasonable given the circumstances, then let them know politely that this isn’t possible at the present time (e.g., “I’m sorry but I already have plans this afternoon”).

You should also make sure that you don’t overcommit yourself with projects or tasks before weighing their importance against other things going on in your life; if something is truly important enough to commit energy towards outside of normal business hours, then it deserves all the attention and focus necessary for its completion. Otherwise, there may come a point where burnout sets in through trying to unsuccessfully keep up with everything else on top of all those extra commitments!

avoid being too available

Set your working hours. If you’re worried about missing something important, have a colleague act as a backup to share responsibilities with you and be on call during your off-hours. But remember: setting boundaries doesn’t mean never being able to take calls or emails outside of work hours; it’s just that these should be the exception rather than the rule, so make sure you can trust yourself not to get sucked back into work mode when you’re supposed to be having fun with friends.

Take time off and be present during that time off

You should also make it clear when you are not available. If your boss asks if they can interrupt you, tell them no, or at the very least ask for a few hours to check in on messages. You don’t want to miss out on connecting with friends and family because of work obligations. And if work always takes priority over everything else in your life, chances are that this is unhealthy for both parties involved—you and your employer.

Stick to your word

For many people, the idea of setting boundaries can be overwhelming. It’s a big step to take and one that may feel uncomfortable at first. However, when you’re working on setting healthy boundaries with your coworkers and employers, remember that it’s important to stick to your word. Be true to yourself and others will trust you. When you are being true to yourself, it will make you feel better about the situation and increase your self-confidence because there is less pressure from trying so hard or worrying about what others might think of you.

Turn down requests when you can’t do them, rather than promising to do them and not following through

Turning down requests when you can’t help is much better than promising to do something and not following through. When you say no, give a quick, polite reason for your refusal: “I’d love to help, but I have too many projects already on my plate. Other people may be able to take this one off your hands if your workload has gotten heavy”. If there’s no way you can say yes, offer to help in the future when things are less busy: “I’d love to help out now, but I don’t have time today or tomorrow afternoon. Would it work if we rescheduled the meeting for Wednesday afternoon? Or what about Thursday morning? Let me know which day works best for everyone else and we’ll go from there.”

say no when you need to say no, without excuses or explanations

When you have to say no, don’t apologise for it. Saying no is a part of your job, so do it without excuses or explanations. If you are asked to do something that doesn’t fit into your job description or is otherwise inconvenient, say “No.”

Practice saying this word in front of the mirror until it feels natural coming out of your mouth. Your co-workers will appreciate knowing when they can count on you and what they can expect from your time together. Remember: once you’ve said no, don’t change course later!

wrap up

We hope our advice has given you some new ideas on how to manage boundaries in your workplace. We also hope that reading this post has shown you that setting boundaries is a totally normal and healthy thing to do. Remember that your boss and colleagues will appreciate your honesty, so don’t be afraid to speak up when you need to take a breather. 

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