Setting Boundaries at Work with Your Boss         

How important is it to set boundaries at work with your boss? Do feel like you are being taken advantage of instead of feeling appreciated? Think about if any of these situations sound familiar:

  • 24865304_sYour personal and work cell phones are intertwined. It is difficult to ignore messages you receive after work hours. You find yourself answering the messages at all hours of the night, just so you can feel like you have a head start in the morning.
  • While on vacation, your boss calls your or emails you with urgent questions that need to be answered NOW.
  • Your boss sponsors your attendance at a certification or training session and is aware it runs from 8-5 each day. Nonetheless, he sends you messages throughout the day and expects you to spend your 10 minutes stretch breaks responding to non-crisis issues.

In each of these situations, your boss is setting the boundaries at work instead of you. While it may seem inappropriate to tell your boss “no”, it becomes a necessity if you want to keep your sanity and productivity while you are at work.

Telling your boss that you need to set boundaries at work requires you to be tactful and cool headed. It is not the time to approach your boss when you are angry because you feel used, abused or taken for granted.

The next time a situation like this happens, take a deep breath, let some time pass (preferably to the next day) and schedule some time with him to discuss the situation. It is important that you communicate the following:

  1. What was the situation that occurred?
  2. How did the situation affect you? Talk about the impact on your overall productivity.
  3. Why is it important for you to have breathing space or decompression time?
  4. Discuss strategies and boundaries for both parties to respect.
  5. Ask your boss for permission to push back if you find the situation re-occurring.

Changing behavior is difficult. Even if you boss agrees to the new boundaries at work, you may find him breaking them. The excuse will be…this is important or urgent. It is easy to get caught into the trap of those words – everything seems important. You may have to have this conversation a few times before your boss realizes how serious you are about setting boundaries at work.