Some may find the concept of workplace boundaries a challenging notion given a boundary can’t be seen, but their importance shouldn’t be underestimated. In fact, understanding and working within defined boundaries can help you to thrive at work.
What is a workplace boundary?
The definition of a professional boundary can best be described as understanding a colleague’s need for space, setting limits, determining acceptable workplace behaviour and creating a sense of autonomy. Boundaries are based on your needs, values and beliefs.
There are a number of different kinds of boundaries:
Physical: This includes personal space, both your own and other’s.
Individual: This relates to acceptable behaviour and is open to interpretation; it depends on a person’s level of comfort around certain behaviours. For example, sexual harassment; what may be funny to one person could be construed as sexual harassment by another.
Ethical: What you feel is right or wrong; this varies greatly from person to person.
It’s up to each of us to learn and adhere to the physical space and the various other boundaries that exist in our workplaces as understanding and adhering to workplace boundaries is in fact an individual responsibility.
One way to ensure you are adhering to workplace boundaries is to observe the culture of your organisation, looking at how people interact in the workplace. It’s vital to know what’s acceptable and what’s not. This includes learning how to have appropriate conversations with colleagues to set or reinforce clear expectations, and being able to say no when necessary.
Are boundaries important to you? Do you feel as though they are clearly determined in your workplace?
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