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"How do I draw boundaries at my job that I’ve already been at for a while?"
The expert: Christina Tasooji, an executive coach and the creator of Flow State, a guide to menstrual cycle awareness and The Antidote, a newsletter about meditation, musings, and essential healing methods for modern women. Here's her advice.
1. Create internal clarity on your specific needs and limits
Although the word “boundary” implies an external reference point, boundaries are an inside job. Self-awareness is the first step in establishing clear and healthy boundaries. Before you can expect others to understand our boundaries, you must communicate with yourself. What are your limits? What do you need to feel your best and do your best work? Once you have that internal clarity, communication can not be understated. We can’t expect people to read your minds. You need to advocate for yourself.
2. Make a formal request for this conversation.
When you’ve been in a job for a long time, or are trying to establish new boundaries, the formality of a designated meeting is necessary to communicate them and make them heard. In other words, don’t just mention your needs vaguely to your manager in passing. Set up a meeting, or put it on the agenda in your next 1:1. The intention of a meeting will help your manager understand the gravity of your communication.
3. Take a clear approach to the conversation instead of being vague about it.
Don’t beat around the bush. Be specific. Is there is a specific time you need to be offline? Describe how certain actions affect you. Specifying a subject can help the other party understand your concerns in a more instant manner. For example, "When you email me after 9 p.m. with a non-urgent request when I’m trying to relax, I’m not able to properly rest and recharge. This affects my energy levels and how I show up the next day."
Make your boundaries clear. If they aren’t, people will just keep taking more and more. Not because they are malicious, but simply because they won’t know when you are feeling depleted.
4. Be positive. Put yourself in your manager's shoes and frame your boundary as a win-win for everyone.
Law of diminishing returns applies to our productivity. Always being “on” is a recipe for burnout. Let your manager know how having uninterrupted time for therapy, exercise and rest, and time away from work actually makes you a happier and more engaged employee. It can be helpful to remind your manager that you are committed to your work, and have identified what you need to perform your best.
Creating healthy boundaries does not happen overnight. It takes time, patience and commitment to your awareness. Try my meditations Healthy Boundaries and Embodied Knowing on The Antidote to explore this further.