How many scenarios have you replayed in your head, where you wished you had said or done something differently at work? Those situations where, in retrospect, we actually DO muster up the courage to start that tough conversation or insist that colleagues respect our time.
To change this, here’s the number one question you should ask: What stops you from speaking up and standing firm for yourself when you need it most?
I believe it’s the need to be liked by everyone, all the time, no matter what. And this is something that’s especially strong for women.
Trying to always be seen as “nice,” “agreeable,” and “easy to work with,” will cause you to drop your boundaries in a hot minute. Because for women — especially in the workplace — nothing is worse than being seen as a Bitch.
I mean, who do you think you are to have the audacity to set boundaries that protect your time, confidence, and space?
But here’s what happens when you worry about what others think – you stop making progress and being a leader. Instead, you become a people-pleaser or worse:
And nothing strips you of authority and respect like ignoring your boundaries.
Boundaries can show up in a lot of ways at work:
- Refusing to allow others to speak to you in a rude or condescending manner
- Protecting your space. When your door is closed, it means it’s really closed. It doesn’t mean someone can knock and walk in anyway
- Setting your priorities for the day based on how you best work
- Instituting a zero-tolerance policy on office gossip
- Refusing to be “the fixer,” i.e., the one everyone goes to when something needs to be done and done right
Tweet: If you don’t set personal boundaries, then others get to decide how they treat you.
Now, imagine what your work day would look like if you set boundaries for yourself and took charge of how you wanted to be treated by others, and how letting go of the need to be liked can free you.
I believe you need to teach others how to treat you. If you don’t set personal boundaries, then others get to decide how they treat you.
What is the benefit of leading by example and expecting every person on your team to honor others’ boundaries? In my experience, the result is more productivity and a higher standard of excellence in everything that they do.
Are you ready to take that power back?
3 easy steps to start setting boundaries for yourself right now – without being a bitch:
1. Decide what you’re willing to tolerate and what you’re not
Many of my executive clients have struggled with this one. They believe they don’t struggle with boundaries. That is, until we begin digging below the surface and they see examples of situations where they had wished for a different outcome. As you go through your day, pay attention when something irritates you or when it feels as if someone disregards you. Chances are, you need to establish and honor a boundary.
2. Realize that you have the right to set boundaries
This goes all the back to when you were a child and were told to behave and act like a “little lady.” Most women have subconsciously embodied that social rule about how good little girls are supposed to behave. Now, as adults, we don’t recognize that we can choose something different for ourselves, and that we have the right to do so.
3. Put your boundaries into action on a consistent basis
This one is probably the toughest. After you’ve identified what you’re willing to tolerate and what you’re not, you then have to act on it. Start small. Practice incorporating one new boundary a week to see how it feels. When you stumble, don’t beat yourself up. Simply begin again. And when you feel like you’ve got one locked in place, bring in another, and another.
There is something very freeing and powerful in standing up for yourself, about claiming what you want and what you don’t.
When you decide to set boundaries of your own, you change the behaviors of other people around you because you show up differently. You have new expectations and limits. And you set a beautiful example of what it looks like when a strong, accomplished, powerful woman honors who she is and what she needs.
Now I ask you – what stops you from speaking up and standing firm for yourself when you need it most? Let me know in the comments below.
Learning to build boundaries results in improved productivity and better results in the workplace. If setting boundaries is something your group is craving to learn, let’s talk about how to Ignite your upcoming event.
Debby Rauch Lissaur says
Great piece. It occurs to me that by not setting boundaries, we set ourselves up as victims of circumstances, instead of taking personal responsibility to claim what we know we need to be and do.
Zoe Mansfield says
I was recently hired for an all male correctional facility and am a female, I was wondering what the best response to “I think you’re beautiful” would be, or if an inmate tells me he paid for my meal? Thank you!
Robbin Jorgensen says
Zoe, we are so very sorry you’re experiencing this. Robbin would be glad to hop on a complimentary call with you to walk through it. If you’d email email@example.com, we will help set this up! Thank you for your courage asking this question!