Setting boundaries at work

We have all been there. What seems like banter, or fun and games to one person could be quite hurtful to another. How do you know if boundaries are being crossed in your workplace?

Commenting on how much and what you eat, prying questions about your private life, comments on your appearance, culturally inappropriate remarks or slightly smutty jokes can all leave co-workers with feelings of discomfort, resentment, or guilt.

If that’s happening in your workplace then it’s time to set boundaries.

This doesn’t have to be difficult and it is natural to be concerned about how speaking up could affect your workplace relationships. However, tolerating behaviour that leaves you feeling uncomfortable and stressed is detrimental to your health. In such circumstances  boundaries need to be set of their designed to protect you, and not to make things even harder between you and your colleagues, but the secret is to implement change in a subtle but effective way, and here is what you need to know.

 Don’t go on the attack

The chances are that the person who made the remark didn’t mean to offend and most of the time that person will be mortified that they have caused offence. They are thoughtless rather than malicious but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it.

Approach the situation in a way that shows that you’re aware the person didn’t mean to offend and reassure them that we all say things without thinking, sometimes it would be nice to eat together without having to discuss the contents of your lunchbox or what you are wearing and your private life.

Smutty jokes or culturally inappropriate remarks may seem amusing to some but can leave others feeling resentful. This creates a negative atmosphere amongst colleagues and boundary setting can prove to be a very positive step.

Even if you believe that some of your colleagues are sexist or racist, labeling them as such can lead to very defensive behaviour especially if they’re acting out of ignorance more than anything else. So instead of making accusations, first try explaining how the comment makes you feel – uncomfortable, resentful or just plain intimidated! The offender is less likely to become defensive and more likely to appreciate how and why their careless comments became stressful for those involved.

Remember, Mayfair, we care.