We all want our workplace relationships to be healthy and chilled rather than, well, the opposite of that. Most of us also want to work in environments where we feel respected, valued and can thrive. This is where boundary-setting comes in.

So let's dive into what boundaries are, the importance of setting boundaries, and how to set them up in your work environment.

Right, what are your boundaries?

Boundaries are basically the rules and limits we set within relationships and environments. Our boundaries define how we treat other people, as well as defining the behaviour we are willing to accept from others. It's that line in the sand that separates what behaviour is okay and what isn't.

So why are boundaries important then?

Well, healthy boundaries are super important in maintaining healthy relationships, positive mental health, self-esteem, and that all-important sense of identity and individuality. If we don't assert our needs and wants, we can end up feeling depleted, taken advantage of, and/or intruded upon. On the flip side, if our boundaries are too inflexible and rigid, we may miss opportunities for authentic connections and experiences. Either way, unhealthy boundaries can leave us feeling angry, lonely, hurt, burnt out, or resentful.

Cool. What's this about setting limits then?

Now that you have the lowdown on what boundaries are, the next step is to know what boundaries you will and won't accept. Ask yourself these very important questions:

  • What behaviours do I and don't I accept from others?

  • What am I willing to do or not do for other people or my employer?

  • What do I need from this relationship or my employer, and what role am I willing to play?

Once you've figured out your boundaries, it's important to communicate them. Make sure you're clear, concise, assertive and respectful (swearing at people loudly probably won't lead to anything productive!). For example, saying "I feel judged and uncomfortable when you comment about my clothes, please stop as I find this inappropriate" is far better at establishing your boundaries than screaming "leave me and my clothes alone, you weirdo!"

Within a work context, it's also important to set boundaries around your workload, your standard work hours, how much overtime you're willing to do, how available you're willing to be outside of work to reply to emails or phone calls, and the breaks and holidays you need to maintain your wellbeing.

Sooooo, can I say no at any point?

You sure can! Look, saying no takes courage but learning to say no will do wonders for your stress and productivity levels. You probably don't like disappointing anyone but taking on random tasks from colleagues all the time isn't sustainable. It's not healthy to sacrifice your own wellbeing for others. We all have different boundaries, and our boundaries can change over time. So it's important to check in with yourself regularly and re-establish boundaries when needed.

Setting boundaries isn't always easy, and sometimes involves a bit of negotiation and compromise to find an outcome that everyone can be happy with. But if you feel like you're doing all the giving (or if you're doing all the taking!), then you might need to work on your boundary setting skills. Contact Sonder 24/7 to chat about any concerns, or to be connected with an appropriate support service.

Related reading:


If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: The Resilience Centre, Upskilled, and EAP Counselling.

Image credit: Horrible Bosses

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

Did this answer your question?