Setting clear boundaries for connection at work

Sometimes in order to be flexible at work we relax our boundaries and can then appear weak, others may hold their boundaries too strongly and appear inflexible. Boundaries at work are important as is connection.

Here’s a quote from my book:

Relationship vs friendship

Connection is not the same as relationship and friendship. It is important to be clear what you are wanting to create and why. People often avoid connection in the workplace because they fear being embroiled in a friendship that does not feel appropriate. In trying to set clear boundaries, people often create barriers instead and cause disconnection.

Connections can be created across a room full of people and may be as simple as a glance. It indicates a sensing of deep knowing and seeing another person as they are, and allows them to see you in that moment too.  Connection can be created at a deep level on a momentary basis and does not necessarily result in a long-term relationship or friendship. Once people realise that, they are less afraid of the intimacy of connection and are able to set boundaries rather than barriers.

Connection based on trust and respect

Everyone will hold their boundaries differently. When leaders are clear and consistent with their boundaries, they create deeper levels of connection based on trust and respect, with the knowledge that they can communicate with clarity around their needs. Clear boundaries enable leaders to influence others without curbing or coercion. They articulate their needs, knowing that the connection goes beyond any challenges they are facing and allows them to reach alignment.

Often people relax their boundaries out of a desire to be flexible. Boundaries provide clarity around what is ok and what is not. If you flex your boundaries too much, others may take advantage of you, and your needs may not be met. Alternatively, if you hold them too strongly, you may be seen as inflexible and difficult to collaborate with, and equally, with this approach, your needs will not be met either. Boundaries change as the organisation and world around you change, or as you gain new insights and information. Leaders who articulate their boundaries provide clarity and a structure for others to operate within. This creates a certainty within the uncertainty.

Boundaries provide a framework

Boundaries provide the framework of what is acceptable behaviour and interaction, and they are essential in times of uncertainty. Boundaries are defined based on your values, beliefs and experience, and they may differ substantially from the boundaries of others. There is no right or wrong way to set boundaries, but clarity around them enables dialogue which can minimise polarisation and conflict.

Often when something does not “feel” right, you may not have sufficient information to articulate why, but the situation may be at odds with your personal values. When your values are not honoured, your boundaries are also often crossed.

Where are your boundaries not being honoured?

With the pressure of work intensifying, many people have continued to relax their boundary around what is an acceptable level of workload. Work-related stress and burnout are often the result of not being able to say no. Unrealistic deadlines and an incessant volume of work challenge our boundaries on an almost daily basis. Holding your boundaries is essential as a leader and requires a willingness to walk away if they are not upheld. If you do not uphold your boundaries, it results in stress and overwhelm.

from Leading Through Uncertainty

by Jude Jennison

If you are interested in how Jude can help you and your team work on connection and boundaries, contact Jude on 0800 170 1810

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