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Amira McLaughlin

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Setting boundaries at work requires a different approach than setting them with friends and family. You can’t always walk away from your co-workers and sever ties. Such drastic measures may not be an option. Besides, your work is your livelihood. To keep your job, some diplomacy and certain acts of professionalism may be in order. Follow these five tips for setting boundaries at work, and you’ll soon start to notice things flow much more smoothly.

  1. Communicate Clearly

First and foremost, setting boundaries with co-workers requires clear communication. Chances are, you work with a team of people. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page means that you must state rules and expectations directly, with little ambiguity. You’ll also want to be sure to communicate in various ways. Repetition ensures that everyone has had ample opportunity to become familiar with your boundaries and expectations. Draft written memos. Send emails. Hold trainings. Meet one on one with employees. Most of all, always use clear and concise statements, using language that is straightforward with little room for misinterpretation.

  1. Enforce Structure

Having a regular structure for how things are done will help your team at work become accustomed to your expectations. This doesn’t have to be as rigid as it may seem. However, having some sort of routine for your workday will keep everyone on track and ensure that boundaries are respected.

  1. Implement Policies

As already noted, writing things down clearly and concisely helps to keep everyone abreast of expectations. This can be done in the form of written policies. When policies are drafted, shared, and implemented, folks know what to expect. You have something to refer to should there be misunderstandings in the future. Not every boundary will need its own rigid policy but having a set of foundational policies in place can ensure things run smoothly.

  1. Address Problems Immediately

Even when your boundaries are concise and clear, there are bound to be infractions. It takes people some time to become familiar with rules and expectations. There’s no need to stress, however. Simply address problems immediately as they arise. This shows colleagues that you are firm on the boundaries you’ve set and that you will hold to them. There’s less likely to be limit testing when you are consistent in maintaining the boundaries you set.

  1. Expect Pushback

Unfortunately, certain individuals don’t like or respect boundaries. These folks are bound to push back. As long as you expect this to happen, you can be prepared to deal with it. Have a plan in place to manage such boundary pushers. Maintaining consistency and enforcing consequences will go far to ending this difficult behavior. Be sure you’ve taken time to consider the consequences you’ll put in place for those who test your limits.

There you have it, these five tips for setting boundaries at work should help you to get started on this process. Having a plan in place will make setting clear and concise boundaries with your co-workers much simpler.

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