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Out of Bounds: How to Protect Your Personal and Professional Boundaries

By: Tamela Handie, Guest Contributor


Setting boundaries is often a touchy subject and knowing when it’s necessary and appropriate to establish personal and professional boundaries can be challenging. With lines now blurred more than ever, you might be unsure about what’s boundary worthy in your life and when boundaries are necessary.

Protecting your space isn't generally taught in school, so unless it was modeled by your parents or other adults in your life, figuring out how and when to draw the line can only take place through trial and error.



What’s Boundary Worthy?

Boundaries are as unique and varied as personalities. What’s extreme and unacceptable to you may be bliss to someone else. There’s no universal crossing of the lines, which makes it difficult to determine when it is necessary and appropriate to establish personal and professional boundaries. The simple answer is…when it matters to you.

Here’s a guide that you can use to determine when it’s time to draw the line:


When someone’s actions or behaviors are unreasonable and/or infringe upon, restrict, or limit your ability to freely function; peacefully and comfortably exist; or perform at a level that’s suitable for the situation/environment, it’s time for you to set boundaries.

Boundaries Are Needed Now More Than Ever

With more people unemployed, working from home, and finances and resources being stretched from thin to thinner, you may find yourself in uncharted and uncomfortable territory. Setting boundaries is not only appropriate; it’s absolutely necessary.

You may feel that there’s no longer a delineation between your personal and professional life, and the list of competing demands on your time has thrust you into a world of blurred lines.

You may also be struggling to have private alone time in a house full of other working adults and kids attending online classes, doing homework, and simply trying to relax.

The fact that your living room, bedroom, and family room, which were once private spaces, are now public stages for virtual meetings and otherwise uninvited guests makes the need for boundaries even greater. Unless you have other viable options, adjusting to this new normal is a non-negotiable matter.

Why Boundaries Matter?

Although setting boundaries may be uncomfortable for you, not doing so can cause you unnecessary stress, anxiety, frustration, and anger and produce the same effects for those being asked to respect them.

If you’re being asked to respect someone else’s boundaries, it will require you to make a choice on how you view them. If you choose to look at boundaries through a scarcity lens and only see “stop signs,” you will likely believe that they inhibit your natural, organic, and spontaneous flow of being, doing, and living.

Looking at boundaries through a lens focused on abundance proves that the opposite is true. Establishing and adhering to boundaries can create more harmonious relationships and productive and collaborative work environments if done in a healthy and respectful way. More importantly, communication and engagement flow more freely and easily when boundaries are clear, reasonable, and understood and that’s a benefit you can appreciate personally and professionally.

Setting Boundaries

If setting personal and professional boundaries is challenging for you, here are a few simple and practical tips on how to stand up for yourself:

· Take inventory of any patterns and behaviors that violate your unspoken and undefined rules.


· Define reasonable and healthy boundaries and communicate them.


· Confront opposition from Boundary Bullies.


Lastly, remember that you’re not the only person with boundaries that matter. Recognize and respect the unspoken boundaries of others and your life will be much sweeter.


Tamela Handie is the founder and strategist for INgaged INrichment. In addition to being a solopreneur, she’s also a certified facilitator, consultant, writer, speaker, and podcast host. Her consulting practice focuses on engagement and communications and personal branding and marketing. The foundation of Tamela’s consultation, facilitation, and training is based on her core belief that “Courage Comes in Handie.” In her spare time, Tamela blogs on a variety of interesting topics. You can check out one of her recent and most popular blog posts here.


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