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4 tips for borderline situations

If you know about your boss’s anxiety disorder or your co-worker’s marital breakdown, it’s probably wise to set some professional boundaries.

While friendship with your co-workers can increase your happiness, it can also create some chaos in your daily life, says Brandon Smith, therapist and executive coach known as The Workplace Therapist.

“Fear comes from unpredictability,” he says. “If you don’t know what someone is going to be talking about, it’s almost like you’re riding a roller coaster with that person, and you don’t know when the hills are coming and when the loops are coming.”

Here’s how to deal with four common cross-border situations in the workplace so you can reduce your anxiety and feel less burned out.

Your chatty or unfiltered colleague

The more time you spend with someone, the more likely they are to push your boundaries, says Smith. As soon as you spot this chatty co-worker moving towards your desk, set a time limit for communicating with them.

“If you have a colleague who gives you too much of their private life and you don’t have time for it, say, ‘I’m so sorry I only have 30 or 5 minutes to talk.’

If you need to work with a co-worker who often wanders off topic during meetings, come up with an agenda, he suggests. “Don’t let them drive,” he says.

“Come right out the gate and say, ‘I’d like to talk about this.’ Keep guiding them back to a topic that is in your area [professional] limits.”

This tip is also useful for engaging in conversations with a boss who doesn’t always respect your time or workload. “Come to the meeting very, very well prepared,” he says. You can even email them what you want to talk about before you join the meeting. Most bosses, he says, will appreciate it.

If you have a colleague who gives you too much of their private life and you don’t have time for it, say, “I’m so sorry I only have 30 or 5 minutes to chat.

A boss who texts you at any time of the day

If your boss contacts you outside of work hours, you may need to have a more direct conversation with them, Smith says.

“You really need to sit down and talk to them about your work and when you’re going to be available,” says Smith.

He suggests saying something like, “It’s really important to me that I support you and that I’m there if you need anything, but I’m unavailable at certain times of the week.”

You can also ask them when they’d rather be contacted by saying something like, “It would be helpful to know when you need me to be available. What time slot would I be most useful to you in?”

Typically, he says, a boss knows he’s sounding ridiculous when he tells you to be available 24/7.

However, if they give a vague answer or no answer at all, you can get specific and say, “If you text me at night, I won’t answer until tomorrow morning.”

When you are asked to take on unnecessary tasks

While setting boundaries is healthy, Smith says you shouldn’t be completely inflexible in your day-to-day tasks.

“If you’re too rigid in your own boundaries, it could damage your reputation as an achiever,” he says.

However, if your boss is constantly asking you to do tasks that don’t affect the bottom line of your business or your work, such as B. planning company parties, you have the right to set a limit. According to a 2017 study by the American Economic Association, this burden often falls on women, as they are asked more than men to do “office chores,” or tasks that don’t lead to promotions.

When you say “no” to a task, make the conversation 20% about your refusal and 80% about an alternative solution. Simply saying “no” could prompt a boss or co-worker to negotiate your boundaries. If you find a solution that still gets the tasks done, there’s less chance of that happening.

Being too rigid in your own boundaries could damage your reputation as an achiever.

When you blur the line between work and play

At work events, especially those where alcohol is served, lines can often become blurred. If that worries you, you might instinctively just not attend. Unfortunately, skipping a professional happy hour has the potential to be viewed negatively.

“If you don’t show up for these events, it’s assumed that person doesn’t like us,” Smith says.

Instead, tell yourself that you will stay for the first 30 to 40 minutes and then say goodbye. It signals that you care about your work relationships, he says: “Make enough impression to show you want to build relationships, but leave soon enough before the conversation veers away from work-related topics.”

Make sure you also communicate that you need to be somewhere else. “Without communication, people assume the worst,” he says. “Do you have a reason why you must go.”

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