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CAREER

4 Tips For Creating Boundaries At Work

You absolutely do not have to be besties with your boss

BY Naledi K

Apr 21, 2022, 03:24 AM

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Just because you don’t have to go into the office and see your boss and colleagues every day doesn’t mean it has become harder for personal and work boundaries to get blurry. It also doesn’t mean they are not important to have. While the company should definitely care about all aspects of your life - overall growth as a human being - there is a fine line between that care that ensures that you excel at work and it is all up in your business. Hence, the importance of boundaries.

Some people do not struggle at all in this department. They simply show up for work, work and leave. Hellos are said, a few essential words exchanged with various people throughout the day and then goodbyes. 

I always envied those types of people. The level of detachment they have is the stuff of dreams. I have never been part of that squad. My M.O is to walk into a place and make everyone love me. It’s hardly intentional, I just happen to be one of those people others usually describe as “welcoming” and “approachable”. These qualities in any other space are great, they are proof that you are a decent human being - most of the time.

However, they also translate into you making lots of friends in the office. Then you end up over-familiar with your colleagues because the boundaries disappear the minute y’all start braiding each other’s hair while talking about the office affair that went skew. Don’t get me wrong, that kind of closeness with your colleagues is fine if you truly also consider them your friends. Otherwise… it is bad for you as an employee in many ways.
"So what do you do? Don’t be rude. As a colleague, you have a responsibility to be professional and civil with people who work with you."
Qualities such as being a team player are usually part of the gig, so don’t falter on those. However, if those boundaries are going to be drawn, here are a few tips to go about it.

Be Flexible But In Control

We’ve already established that setting the boundaries is important but the emphasis ought to be on creating healthy boundaries. You don’t want to end up perceived as rude or being the aloof employee nobody knows a thing about.

That will just make the work environment awkward. The trick is to be in control of the boundaries and to ensure that you are flexible when it matters. 
Not talking about your family problems is a right you have, however, if you need to take a family responsibility day off, then it might be worth letting your boss in.

Don’t Send Mixed Messages

Have you ever been in a situation where you have a small mcimbi (event) at home and you don’t know how to invite the one friend you have at the office without making things awkward for everyone else who didn’t crack an invite. That happens when you’ve failed to make it clear who you consider a friend and who is just an acquaintance. 

As much as you can be clear about what position the people around you hold. If you must decline the baby shower invite because you don’t consider yourself a friend to that particular person, then so be it. Just remember to be okay, when they return the favour.

Block Them On Your Social Media

This may seem extreme but it’s not. In 2021, we share almost everything about ourselves on these platforms. Your recent break-up, how you got drunk, or how you and your in-laws are at war. If you don’t want these very personal things to be canteen conversations or have your boss asking if you had a wild night, it may be best to just block them.

Leave Everything Personal At The Door

It is best to keep your personal information a secret and if you just have to share it with someone, make sure they are a close friend and not an acquittance. A close friend who you have known for long and you might consider them family or you know as much about them as they know about you. This close friend/colleague must be trustworthy, if not, leave your personal business at the door when walking in to the office. Remember that it is called personal for a good reason, it is just for you.