Setting Professional Boundaries

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It’s not always easy to say no in the work place, especially if you are usually the one to say yes. It becomes even harder as the work environment continues to become more competitive. Instead of looking at it from the perspective of just saying no, think about it as freeing up your time and gaining respect. The truth is, you do not have the resources or time to be doing everything, especially other people’s tasks.

The most common reasons people are afraid to say no at work can be their fear of:

  • Being seen as lazy

  • Missing out on a promotion

  • Not being a team player

  • Being less than totally dedicated to the business

  • Losing their job


It is tough to know when to set boundaries because you may truly be working for a demanding job or boss. There are some companies that will purposely make all of the employees feel as though they need to be under pressure and constantly go the extra mile. If you are finding yourself wanting to be loved, respected, valued, and appreciated, you may be putting yourself out there to always do whatever is asked of you. However, if your mental and physical health are at risk, saying no may actually be the easiest way to gain respect and admiration from the people you work with.

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How To Set These Boundaries

So how do you start? There are many different ways to set boundaries at work, but here are a few techniques that can help shift your perspective and give you more confidence.

1. Accept that you can’t please everyone

2. Stop apologizing for saying no

3. Consider the request in context

4. Communicate your needs honestly and clearly

5. If possible, offer an alternative

6. Remember you have a choice

7. Let your boundaries liberate you

8. Use “power words” to smooth your language


If you find yourself struggling to set professional boundaries, try working with a business coach who can guide you! Click here to get started.