Establishing boundaries early on will help you navigate your workplace, avoid toxic environments, and create a clear path that will enable you to achieve your best work without being exploited or burned out.  

Does your work email get checked outside of working hours, for example? If a problem arises, are you available on Slack 24/7? Would you take on work outside your job description at a moment’s notice?  

With boundaries in place from the beginning, you can avoid toxic environments, avoid being taken advantage of, and remain focused on doing your best work without fear of burnout or being taken advantage of. 


Boundaries to Establish and Protect  

Our goal is to help you differentiate healthy boundaries from unreasonable requests if you’re not sure how to set boundaries. Although it’s extra work and might seem unnatural at first, preventing mental illness will benefit you greatly. 


1. Identify Your Personal Boundaries 

You must take the time to assess your boundaries, their limits, and how to set them before communicating them. 

The boundaries you set will be based on your values and priorities.


 2. Upfront Communication 

Communicate your priorities and values once you have established them. 

Throughout each of the additional tips in this blog post, communication is the common thread. If you communicate upfront, you protect yourself against future miscommunications.


3. Design Solid Structures 

In the workplace, structure is crucial. Make sure your boundaries are solid in order to achieve success. 

It eliminates any guesswork associated with common boundary infractions by creating clear boundary structures ahead of time. Setting blocks of time for do-not-disturb work will reduce the likelihood of coworkers interrupting you. 


4. Keep All Relationships Professional 

Sometimes relationships can get tricky because of boundary issues, as many of us know from having a work spouse or work best friend.

Our point isn’t to say that having a close friend or confidant at work is wrong. Essentially, we are urging you to make sure your work relationships remain professional. 


5. When Appropriate, Delegate Tasks

Among the tasks you have to set boundaries, you need to establish your expectations about the work you will do, the work you’re hired to do, the work you will take on, and the work you will not be tasked with.

Depending on your circumstances, saying no or delegating the work to someone more qualified may be possible when the work is not within your sphere of responsibility.


6. Say the Word, “No” 

You may not even need to delegate work when you have established your boundaries. If this is the case, you probably should just say no-which is a touchy subject for most of us.


7. Actually, Take the Time Off 

Take your time off – when it’s offered, when you get it, and when you need it – another great way to set boundaries. 


8. Technology- Use It to Help

Use this as a tool to set certain boundaries.

Before leaving and being away from your desk/job, you can set-up “away” messages or other forms of communication to your team before leaving.


Final Thoughts

When in doubt of how to set boundaries at work, our team of Human Resources professionals here at MCDA can walk you through the steps and coach you along the way. 


Other resources you may like:

LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE! Why People Lie at Work and How to Handle It

How To Handle a Passive-Aggressive Coworker?

Assumptions Are Dangerous – Here Are 9 Reasons Why

Effective Active Listening as A Leader

What Is Your Leadership Type in Today’s Dynamic Workplace?

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