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Boundaries at work

Creating, maintaining and reinforcing boundaries

This week is a bit of an exploration. Going through some of my past work relationships to try and answer what my boundaries are, what boundaries I have crossed and what has happened when someone has crossed my boundaries. The conversation is a little all over the place but that's where my brain goes sometimes.

This blog is a round up of the ideas I discuss and relevant resources.

Articles about Sexual Harassment and Bullying at work:


Things to consider and explore yourself and perhaps with friends and colleagues.

Setting Boundaries - these are some ideas and thoughts on how to create and maintain boundaries. The most important thing here to remember is it is not your fault if someone crosses a boundary, especially when it comes to harassment. Boundaries are important and knowing how to create and maintain your own boundaries will help you to feel safe. IF someone chooses to purposefully cross your boundaries or work code of conduct please tell someone, a friend, HR, or contact ACAS or Rape Crisis. Creating boundaries for some people may feel easy, for others it is extremely challenging. Try not to judge yourself, or others. Some of these ideas and suggestions may see, easier said than done and some will feel more natural, comfortable or appropriate than others.

Creating boundaries - make your values known

- 'pre-emptive' conversations

- open discussions on current events

- saying no, or voicing concerns as early as possible

- revisiting conversations if you weren't comfortable

Maintaining boundaries

- speaking up as soon as you feel uncomfortable

- talk to the person (if you feel you can)

- remove yourself from the situation - leaving the room if a difficult conversation comes up

- talking in a group about boundaries in general - shut it down (don't worry about being rude)

- have things in writing - from the company code of conduct to a diary of incidents having things in written will help you.

Reinforcing boundaries:

- request support/supervision

- Go to HR

- Request to move seats/office positions

Some interesting further reading:

Conversations, openness and boundaries

Boundaries in conversation.

Tell All. Oversharing

You may be an open book but not everyone is. Though conversations about sex, politics and your personal life may be part and parcel for you, it may make others uncomfortable. Similarly, you may not want to know certain aspects of others lives. Being mindful of what you share and what conversation you choose to participate in will help you to maintain boundaries as well as ensuring you do not cross others boundaries by mistake.  

Straight to the point, well your point. Forcing your agenda

Sometimes when we have something to say, we say it, regardless of whether the conversation called for it. A conversation about a news item becomes a political discussion, an overheard conversation about a friends family troubles sparks a memory of your own perhaps. Think about whether the conversation is about the topic you are talking about or have you used it to segway to your own. Maybe a colleague has overheard your conversation about an argument with your partner about cleaning the house and wants to help - a kind thing to do, or perhaps they have views about women/gender roles and suddenly your conversation seems to have been taken over. Be aware, be mindful and leave conversations that make you uncomfortable.

Consider: Are you forcing your views on this person or having an open discussion? Are you crossing other peoples boundaries?

Know your body and feelings:

These posters are created to educate children but their messages are relevant for everyone.

Ideas on how support yourself and heal if you feel harassed or bullied:


If you feel that you are being bullied or harassed at work, know you are not alone and you can do something about it. The first line should be HR but if you do not have that option (being a small business or any other reason) then consider contacting the following

Rape Crisis: Freephone - 0808 802 9999

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