The Strategist

Keep it personal: Set and keep your personal boundaries at work

09/13/2019 - 04:42

Do you feel that your colleagues steal your time and attention? Do you have a thousand small tasks but no time for the main goal? Are you torn between work responsibilities, but have no energy for personal relationships, leisure and what you really are interested in? Is staying in the office emotionally exhausting you? Does it seem to you that you are wasting energy?

All this shows your inability to protect yourself from harm, the inability to withstand external pressure and interference. To change the situation, you need to set clear boundaries.

Learn to say no

Some people are always looking for sympathy, attention, help with work or in a relationship with their boss.

Do you have such colleagues? Do you have to delve into their problems and help them, even if you have to stay late in the office? In this case, you should re-draw the border and review the criteria for taking care of yourself.

Remember: being reliable is expensive (and the consequences are both short-term and long-term).

This does not mean that you should be callous and always refuse to help. But everything needs a measure. Do not act to the detriment of your own resources or well-being.

If your colleague is asking your help all the time, it’s probably worth talking to him about it, expressing your feelings, and explaining your position regarding restrictions. It is important to state your own needs. Possible wording: “I know that it’s not easy for you, but I’m afraid that helping you will take the time that I’m supposed to spend on my project. I need to devote more time to my work.”

Do not get involved in other people's strife

The chaser and the victim are a classic pair of interrelated roles that can be found in any organization. Even if you are not one of them, you will probably hear echoes of their conflicts.

If one of your colleagues is a chaser or a victim, what should you do? 

Think of a fellow chaser who puts himself out in a better light, whose jokes make you laugh (even if you sometimes shiver at the idea that you can be the next victim). The best strategy is to step back and draw a healthy border. If you abandon the role of a grateful audience, you will deprive him of the desired attention, then everyone will calmly take up work, and the atmosphere in the office will improve.

As for the victims, then it’s not your business to rescue them. Moreover, once you become a shoulder to cry on, you are likely to prevent them from seeking professional help. It is wiser and more efficient to discuss the situation with the HR department, and not with colleagues in the dining room.

Empathize and ask what the victim is about to do. Do not become their only support. Watch out! Do not get carried away with dramatic effects, so as not to provoke further development of the problem between the chaser and the victim, and not to take sides.

Cut unimportant

Stop accepting and working on everything. Try to clear your schedule of everything superfluous, be it assistance in other people's projects, participation in various commissions, presence at meaningless meetings or any gatherings of this kind.

Do not be shy and refuse additional load more often. Focus on tasks that you think are truly important.

Time is a valuable resource and must be protected. Say no everything that keeps you away from the goal, does not fall within the scope of your duties, does not please, and does not contribute to personal growth. Be thrifty when it comes to your physical and intellectual energy!

Based on "It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work" by Fried Jason and Heinemeier Hansson David

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