Career Advice: Boundaries are Important; Create them Before You Need Them

A job, a business, relocation or a promotion, when you start something new or great, it is quite common that you feel you live in a glass bubble. You are getting to know new people and they are collectively getting to know you. It’s quite common to find your family, friends and colleagues watching you intimately and waiting to see you crash in the effort. They do this out of concern, but you might find yourself caught in a difficult situation as it relates to your personal life or professional choices.

You may be caught a little off guard when asked questions about your personal life by new colleagues. The casual way of asking might not have been an intended intrusion, but then it is definitely a personal choice for you to answer the question. The way of answering though makes all the difference. You don’t want to lose the rapport you could build with your new colleagues. You also love your family and this is why it is important that you set limits. Otherwise, it gets a little crowded living in a bubble. So what can you do?

Craft your Own Limitations

This is mainly to make sure that you are not trapped in difficult situations. You may want to talk about your family with the people at work you feel most comfortable only. That’s okay. If someone is outside that circle, a simple “they are fine” will do. Another decision may be not to get too involved in other people’s personal problems in the work place. You don’t want to have to loan money to a colleague in need because of a whole host of issues. You can decide that borrowing and lending money might erode the thin line ahead of time and it would be better, if you keep away from this.

You don't have to be trapped in a bubble at the office if you know your boundaries.

You don't have to be trapped in a bubble at the office if you know your boundaries.

Use your Boundaries When Trapped 

When you do get trapped and are being asked a difficult question, make sure you use the time and space to give off the message or idea and nicely draw that line in the sand. If someone asks you where your family is or shouldn't you be spending time with them, use the opportunity to talk about your family in a positive way while avoiding the question. You can let a colleague in without letting them sit with you at the family dinner table. The points could include facts like your daughter winning the spelling bee contest, your son being selected in the school soccer team etc.

If you have a colleague fishing for a loan you will know your decision and be clearer about why you made this choice and offer to help in other ways.

Finally, make sure you skip the point of apologies. Do not apologize until you really mean it. If you need to decline an offer, do so politely, saying the offer clashes with your schedule or beliefs or current financial commitments or work schedule. Thus you might not be able to make it/loan it/allow it, rather than going for asking for outright forgiveness.

You need peace of mind in your career when you have a lot of things going on. Peace of mind is very important to make sure that you do not crash and burn professionally.