68. Hold the line, Sister. Your Boundaries Define Who You Are.

Healthy boundaries at work can make the difference between professional fulfillment or burnout. Boundaries are the physical, emotional, and mental limits we create to protect ourselves from over-committing, being used or behaving in unethical ways. 


Boundaries separate what we think and feel from the thoughts and feelings of others. How to Define Healthy Boundaries at Work — Melody Wilding

Crina talks about capital “B” boundaries that are strong, not subject to negotiation with little flexibility.  Lower case “b” boundaries are more porous, flexible and may change depending on circumstances.  

A boundary is a container around your time, mental and emotional energy, relationships, physical body and material and energetic resources.

Where do we see boundaries at work?

How you spend your time

What you agree to do – or not do

How you spend your energy

What do you need for your physical space

How you want to communicate in the office

Our job descriptions and our fte status are significant boundaries at work.

Boundaries are important because they allow you to be more of you. They walk hand in hand with our self-worth.  They allow us to maintain our energy and resilience.  They guide healthy relationships.

We see boundaries in action at work when we do not allow others to speak to us in a rude or condescending manner, when we protect our space – a closed door, separation from a co-worker in a meeting, setting priorities in your work.

Boundaries between work and our personal lives are also important.  Workers tend to fall into three categories as they define their work and personal boundaries – separators, integrators and cyclers.  Separators are 9 to 5ers (or whatever the hours) – folks who clock in and clock out and work and personal do not bleed into each other.  Integrators tend to go between work and personal all of the time – these are the folks who cannot tell you how much they work because they are meshing their work and personal lives to a significant degree.  Cyclers are those folks who spend a significant amount of their energy and time on work in big chunks – firefighters who work for a week and then are off for a week.  Understanding how you separate work and personal is helpful in analyzing your own boundaries and whether those are respected.

Our hosts conclude with examples of boundaries gone bad in the workplace.

More good reads:

Kossek inpress10 Managing Work-Life Boundaries in the Digital Age.pdf (bc.edu)

How to set clear work boundaries — and stick to them | (ted.com)

The Successful Woman’s Guide to Setting Boundaries – Without Being a Bitch – Women Igniting Change