Healthy Boundaries: The Importance of Saying No at Work
Having healthy boundaries is essential for keeping your sanity these days. When we say ‘yes’ too often, or don’t create boundaries to guard our time, it can leave us feeling frazzled, overwhelmed and stressed. This is often the case with ambitious and career-driven individuals. We want to be the go-to person that can handle everything. After all, it looks good when it comes time for performance reviews.
To some saying “no” means you can’t handle the workload; however, it’s actually a sign of professional maturity to have boundaries. It took me a while to learn this lesson. As a former workaholic, there was a need to prove myself over and over again. When my health took a turn, I got the message loud and clear. Boundaries are absolutely essential.
So when do you need to speak up? It depends on the person asking. Your response will differ if its your boss vs. a colleague. In either case, you want to show you are a team player and willing to help while at the same time being realistic about your already full plate.
Here are some tips on how to say no depending on who is asking.
- If your boss is asking, I wouldn’t immediately say no. I would ask where this project falls in priority to the other projects on your plate. If you have something that is due to your boss tomorrow and your boss wants your help with this new to-do I would ask which one is the priority and renegotiate. You know can’t get both done so which one would your boss prefer to receive first? Then, give yourself some additional time to get the next project done without feeling too stressed out.
- If your colleague is asking, ask questions and see what exactly they need and by when. If for some reason you can’t help, offer potential solutions for ways they can get the work done. Could an intern help or could you delegate to someone you manage instead? You may not be able to do the work with everything on your plate; however, offering up solutions shows that you are a team player. If you have the opportunity to assist you can say "I can help, but I have to finish this project for my boss first. Does that work for you?"
It boils down to guarding your time. Providing alternative solutions so you can be seen as a team player and negotiating when things are due so that you aren’t pulling your hair out or headed for burn out.
Having healthy boundaries at both home and work are key to minimizing stress.
How else do you say no at work?