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Boundaries are limitations on what we will or will not accept from others. Like a boundary set by a fence with a gate, relational boundaries allow positive things into our environment, and keep negative things out.

A boundary consists of an expectation and ensuing consequences. Some common workplace documents that reflect boundaries include:

  1. A company's policies and procedures.
  2. A department's procedural handbook.
  3. Contractual agreements.

In the workplace there are many behaviors that are expected to be performed in a certain way, and most people behave accordingly. For example, most people will:

  1. Arrive to work on time.
  2. Do the work they are asked to do.
  3. Ask questions when they need information.
  4. Follow set policies and procedures.
  5. Act politely and be respectful.

However, people with difficult personalities tend to disregard customary expectations, which results in:

  1. Other people taking on excess workload.
  2. A loss of privacy or space.
  3. Offensive, disrespectful words that may include bullying.
  4. Gossip.
  5. Wasted time.
  6. Other behaviors that prevent someone else from performing his or her work.

When this happens repeatedly, the person who is affected by the behaviors needs to create and communicate intentional boundaries. There is a process for setting boundaries, as follows:

  1. Creating expectations.
  2. Determining consequences.
  3. Communicating the expectations and consequences.
  4. Negotiating terms.
  5. Enforcing the agreement.

This lesson explores the process of developing healthy boundaries.