Table of contents:

How to set personal boundaries in the work team
How to set personal boundaries in the work team

Defend your territory gently but firmly.

How to set personal boundaries in the work team
How to set personal boundaries in the work team

This article is part of the One-on-One Project. In it we talk about relationships with ourselves and others. If the topic is close to you, share your story or opinion in the comments. Will wait!

Why it is important to defend personal boundaries in the work team

We spend at least a third of the day at work. And if we take into account the lunch break and possible overtime, it turns out that we see our colleagues more often than our family. Therefore, a favorable climate in the team is not a luxury, but a condition necessary for our psychological well-being.

That being said, there are many situations that make us feel uncomfortable. Here are just a few examples:

  • Some colleagues shift some of their work onto others to free up their time.
  • The bosses constantly ask to stay late or go out on the weekend, and such situations are taken for granted.
  • Conflicts break out every now and then, which are not related to work issues, but only force to waste time and lead to aggravation of relations.
  • Someone from the staff during the conversation comes too close, touches the interlocutor or asks personal questions.
  • Gossip is spread in the team, there is discrimination based on personal qualities. And it is not necessary to be a victim, the fact itself is enough.
  • When communicating, passive aggression is used, and not the principles of healthy dialogue.
  • Co-workers write and call at night on issues that do not require immediate intervention.
  • The boss evaluates not the work itself, but the personality of the performer, insults or humiliates subordinates.

Often people are willing to put up with such inconveniences. The reasons are usually simple and straightforward. Some, for example, in principle do not know how to build boundaries, and someone is afraid that this will damage their career, or even lead to dismissal. This is quite real, especially if the management encourages the absence of a line between the worker and the personal, and pushes those who disagree with this state of affairs in various ways to leave.

So, on the one hand, it is everyone's personal choice to defend their borders or not. On the other hand, in the long term, all this will affect health, mood and self-esteem.

Oleg Ivanov Psychologist, conflictologist, head of the Center for Settlement of Social Conflicts.

The intrusion of strangers into personal space affects psychological well-being. A person may experience feelings of guilt, fatigue, irritation. Often there is a feeling of loss of control over their own life, inability to make decisions on their own. Therefore, it is important to respect personal boundaries in any relationship, including workers.

How to assert boundaries in relationships with colleagues

Define your priorities

This is the case when it is better to start with yourself. Formulate what exactly you mean by the concept of "favorable climate" in the team and what kind of working relationship you would like to see. And then decide what you agree to show flexibility and what to "close" your eyes, and in what issues you will take a principled position.

There will always be many nuances in life, so it will be burdensome to defend all approaches to the borders at once. Start with what's most important to you.

Respect other people's boundaries

From the point of view of geopolitics, the borders between countries suggest that the state not only defends its territory, but also does not invade the lands of the neighboring one. It's the same in relationships: if you want to keep your boundaries up, treat strangers with respect.

For example, if you don’t like answering questions about family or health, don’t ask others. And if you do not expect to hear an anecdote about your religious denomination in response, do not joke about the nationality of your colleague. In general, the basic rule of thumb here is to treat others the way you would like to be treated.

How to Build Personal Boundaries: Respect Others
How to Build Personal Boundaries: Respect Others

Don't engage in controversial conversations

By the rules of etiquette, in small talk, you should not discuss politics, religion and health. It is clear why: these are potentially provocative topics that can easily escalate into a scandal with elements of assault. So at work, it's best to refrain from discussing them. This also applies to other controversial issues, as well as gossip and rumors.

Svetlana Beloded Head of HR Department at QBF.

Let's say you have a conversation about other team members in which you do not want to participate. To begin with, I advise you just not to support it. If you remain silent one time, another, then it will become clear that it is useless to have such conversations with you. You can also politely make it clear that you are not interested in the topic.

Speak straight

Sometimes a person breaks into personal space not because the villain wants to hurt you. Perhaps he has other "pain points" and he has no idea that his behavior can cause discomfort to others. Or he himself has border problems.

There are many reasons, but your goal is not to save your colleague, but to protect yourself. Therefore, sometimes it is enough to openly talk about the inconveniences that you are experiencing. This is especially true for personal items - for example, if a colleague has a habit of touching everyone or asking about topics that you consider intimate.

Alexander Rikel PhD in Psychology, Head of Intergenerational Communication and Conflict Situations at Business Speech.

So that it does not look conflicting, you can turn everything into a joke or somehow try to say softly, but at the same time taking the “blame” on yourself: “For some reason I don’t like hugs. All normal people love, but I don’t. So you don’t have to hug me - I’m that kind of person.”

However, this works if the aggressor acts unconsciously. If tactlessness is manipulation and its meaning is to influence you, then, according to Alexander Rykiel, you can react to it publicly: “For some reason you are trying to put me in a stupid position. Why are you doing this?"

Practice neutrality

The natural impulse when meeting a border violator is to put him in his place. But in a team it is important to defend your rights and not to worsen the general climate.

Psychologist Ekaterina Korolkova advises for this to work on neutral intonations and facial expressions with which you will convey to your interlocutor what you want to say to him. This may not reflect your true emotions, but they are a poor helper when you need to defend boundaries at work.

Armed with neutrality, you can respond to incursions into your territory in several ways:

  1. Express your feelings: "Forgive me, but I am very uncomfortable when such issues are discussed in my presence."
  2. Make guesses about how the other person is feeling. For example, to respond to a tactless remark from a colleague like this: "It looks like I'm annoying you today."
  3. To paraphrase what you were told: "Do I understand correctly that you are offering me to solve this problem instead of you?"

Ekaterina Korolkova Psychologist.

Neutrality is key here. The slightest hint of sarcasm can ruin the whole thing.

Learn to say no

Attempts to shift their responsibilities onto colleagues are not uncommon. And here the popular wisdom works: "The one who is lucky, they will ride on that." So the main task is not to put "riders" on your back.

Svetlana Beloded recommends to tactfully indicate if some issues have nothing to do with you, and their solution is not part of your job responsibilities. This should be pronounced calmly, but firmly.

If you feel that a colleague might be offended by such an answer, list what you are doing now. Make it clear that the additional task will prevent you from completing your work tasks on time.

How to Build Personal Boundaries: Learn to Say No
How to Build Personal Boundaries: Learn to Say No

At the same time, it is important to distinguish between when a person is trying to manipulate, and when he really needs help. In the end, there are always common tasks. And if somewhere the deadlines for a project that will bring the company a large sum are burning, everyone will smell like smoke. In such a situation, there is definitely a reason to stay after work or take on atypical responsibilities.

If a colleague consults with you or asks you to teach him something, this can also bring dividends in the future. Therefore, not all requests for help should be taken with hostility.

Be consistent

Once you have made up your mind to defend your personal boundaries, stick to the end. If you constantly change your position or it becomes opaque to others, colleagues will not take it seriously.

For example, if today you say that you do not want to discuss others, and tomorrow you report in the department the news that Mikhalych from the third workshop has divorced, then it is not very clear what, from your point of view, is permissible and what is not.

You should also not expect everything to be smooth. Many will accept your position with hostility. For example, you ask a colleague not to call you before the start of the working day, because your household is still sleeping and the phone signal can wake them up. And he will think in response: “Look what swells! I generally get up at five in the morning,”and will continue to call as if nothing had happened.

There is always a chance that the situation will change over time. Do not lose hope and remember: companies where people work who are able to agree normally do exist. Perhaps you just haven't found yours yet.