Establishing Workplace Boundaries

Most people change their behavior slightly in different environments. Think about your behavior at work, at a ball game, at a party, and at a place of worship. Is it slightly different? When a player makes a mistake at a ball game there is typically shouting and name calling. If someone makes a mistake at work…hopefully there is a calm discussion on how to do better next time and not the same type of shouting. There are some situations where being loud and boisterous is appropriate and others that call for a more reflective and respective approach. We learn at an early age how apply a filter and adapt our behavior to the situation.

Our actions and words also change depending on who we are interacting with at the moment. There are certain things we can say and do with family and close friends and there are topics not appropriate to discuss with acquaintances, coworkers, or our boss. A professional boundary should be adhered to in the workplace.

In my experience as a human resources professional, I have witnessed many problems in the workplace that were created by not applying a filter and differentiating behavior based on the situation or person. Several examples include:

· Drinking Too Much At Company Functions. Company functions are more relaxed than the typical workplace but they are not a party with friends where you can be inappropriate. Have fun but always drink in moderation or not at all to keep your behavior pleasant but professional.
· Taking Co-Workers Belongings without Permission. Your co-workers should be able to reach for their stapler or pen or other office supply and have it be where they left it. If you put a lunch in the communal refrigerator you should expect it to be there at lunchtime. So never take or touch someone's belongings without their permission.
· Revealing Personal Information. They say that a good way to start an argument is to discuss politics or religion. These topics plus other personal things such as anything to do with marriage problems or sex should not be discussed in the workplace or asked of co-workers. Also, be careful not to reveal too much on social networking sites…it could impact how people perceive your professionalism.
· Gossiping About Others. A good way to impact your reputation and trust in the workplace is to gossip about others. The person who is listening to your gossip is probably thinking "what are they saying about me behind my back?" Never say anything about a person that you would not say in a respectful way to their face.

A Respectful Workplace is an environment where the dignity and self-respect of every person is valued and which is free of offensive remarks or behavior that can impact productivity. When we get a thought or feeling at work, before we say or do anything we need to apply a filter and ask three questions: 1) is my response appropriate for the workplace, 2) will my behavior meet my standard of professionalism, and 3) will my response be considered respectful to this individual?

Tweet reference

1 comment:

Cruise said...

Discussing and defining boundaries can be an elusive concept in the workplace. What defines a boundary? The ability to know where you end and another person begins. In describing the need for space, setting limits, and determining acceptable behavior or autonomy, we are defining workplace boundaries.