The Importance of Setting Boundaries In the Workplace

Have you ever thought about the importance of setting boundaries in the workplace? If not, please do so and here is why. If you don’t define healthy boundaries at the workplace with your boss, with your colleagues and yourself, chances are, you will soon head towards the very famous “frustration” zone.

In this blog, I will share about my first job experience where I sucked at setting boundaries, which eventually affected my mental health for the first time and led me to quit the job.

It was in 2009 after I finished my MBA, I got placed with a well-reputed brand as an assistant manager with a handsome package. I was on top of my world, I moved to Mumbai, stayed alone, managed everything on my own, happily.

I was placed in the headquarters of the organisation and was directly working under the CFO of the company. I use to report to the AGM, and she was one hell of a boss, I came across in my life. She was working there for around 15 years and I joined immediately after my MBA and managed to grab a spot for me, next by her side.

Somehow, she could not take it and from the very first day, she use to criticise me for everything I did. She would throw away my report, simply tear it off and humiliate me in front of others. She would call me to the office on Saturdays and ask me to complete her son’s school projects.

Since I stayed alone, she would never let me leave on time, she would always say no one is waiting for you at home, so what’s the rush. I would reach home by 10 pm, cook, eat and sleep. Then again get up, cook, pack and go to the office. This was my routine for 5 months and it started taking a toll on my physical and mental health.

importance of setting boundaries in the workplace

I fell ill, could not even move, asked for leave, and thought I was giving an excuse. I could not go to the office for 2-3 days and when I went back, she created a huge scene. That was the time, I decided to quit, I could not take it any more. I called up my dad and told him about everything and he left the decision on me. I quit. I came back and that was when the recession hit the world economy.

I could not find any job for the next few months, but honestly, I was not even ready for it. Because the first experience was so draining and horrifying, for a while I feared getting the same type of boss again and how can I quit every time. All those intrusive thoughts made me so lost.

Later, I found the best job of my life in an MNC in the supply chain division, I worked there for a long time and not to mention, my boss was very strict but he was my mentor too. I have learned many things from him and I still keep in touch with him.

But by this time, I was firm and confident about myself. I was never aware of the concept of boundaries, forget about the importance of setting boundaries in the workplace, so I could not handle it before.

Importance of Setting Boundaries In The Workplace

I left Mumbai, I left my first job not only because I ended up with the nastiest boss, but I could not draw boundaries in my first job, I could not say NO. I wanted to be available and do everything to please her so that she can stay nice to me. But not everyone wants to get pleased, some want to exploit, which makes a difference between a boss and a leader.

Many of my friends and relatives made a mockery out of my decision of leaving such a high-paying job, some even called me a fool to leave such a job. Even I started doubting myself, but today, I know what I did was right, because I never deserved such kind of treatment just because I earned a position right after my MBA for which she slogged for 15 years.

In my exit interview, I told everything to HR and they even wanted me to come back, but I knew after all this, working with her will only become more challenging. I took my time off and started applying for other jobs.

importance of setting boundaries in the workplace

5 ways to set better boundaries at work

I am going to talk about a few ways you can start setting boundaries at work. There are amazing benefits of setting boundaries in the workplace as it improves your work-life balance, your stress level and leads you to a more productive work environment.

The first step is to understand the importance of setting boundaries in the workplace. Why do we need boundaries? Not because we are afraid of hard work, long working hours or criticism, because we must never allow anyone to take away our mental peace and undue advantage.

Knowing your capacity and ability helps you prepare to set the right boundaries from the beginning. So now when you know the importance of setting boundaries in the workplace, here are 5 ways you can set better boundaries in the workplace and save yourself some sanity.

1.) Learn to say NO

Please do it more often. Say no when you are called on weekends, say no when you are asked to stay late without reason, say no when you can’t do a job assigned to you. But say no with grace and be polite in your approach.

2.) Keep your communication channels open

Seek help, talk to your superior when in doubt. I know it doesn’t come easy, especially for men, but if we communicate openly chances are we leave a part of our personality with our superior and even if they disagree, they get a message.

3.) Maintain a professional relationship

Thorough professional. No crossing line. Maintain your privacy and respect others privacy at work.

4.) Understanding your own limitations

Understanding your limitations somehow helps to better understand the importance of setting boundaries in the workplace. Knowing how far you can go with a task or commitment, helps you have a realistic approach, also helps to plan and delegate work accordingly.

5.) Be respectful yet assertive

While boundaries sound like being your own boss, but it is still daily practice you have to follow to be productive at work and maintain that work-life balance we all crave for. So even if you have your own disagreements, be respectful and don’t take things personally.

To conclude, I would say people work perfectly and under different circumstances, we all perform differently. This post about the importance of setting boundaries in the workplace is not only for you to stay sane while you earn a living but also help others to not fall into the trap. I hope you will find some value in this post and apply it in your workplace.

Rise up!

Love and light


importance of setting boundaries in the workplace

Priyanka Nair is the author of 26 Days 26 Ways for a Happier you and Ardhaviram. An NLP practitioner and Founder of Sanity Daily, helping you prioritize your mental health. Let’s build a happy community.

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