Innovation and Resistance to change

Feb 4, 2023

Set Boundaries in Your Workplace and Learn to Say No

Written by Mariateresa Romeo

It is a skill that can be learned to be more productive, more confident, and in control of your time.

I have been working as an executive coach for more than 15 years. People come to me to solve thorny situations in their workplace or to be supported in achieving professional goals.  They seek answers to questions like: “How can I demonstrate I am a good leader?”, “How can I get the promotion I deserve this year?”, “How can I manage the stress at work?” or “How can I win my public speaking anxiety and make a good impression at the next town hall meeting” or “I feel trapped by the business; how can I free myself and move forward?”. These are only a few examples of questions that push professionals into a coaching setting, regardless of their role, industry, and background.

But the exciting thing about professional coaching is that it is a thought-proving process, which means we don’t provide easy answers or standard solutions. The coach answers clients’ questions with other more powerful questions to help them get out of their comfort zone, see things from a different perspective and become more aware of who they are and what they want out of their life and career.

So instead of mimicking the “perfect leader,” we help clients develop their leadership style, leveraging their experience, strengths, and emotional intelligence, so they can authentically lead and inspire their teams.

You may be wondering how a coach can do that. Coaching is a fascinating and life-changing process that taps into several disciplines, including many subfields of psychology, sociology, and philosophy. Although several coaching models and methodologies have been developed over the last decades, the coaching practice is based on some fundamental rules.

One is focusing our work on the client’s words: what we say or don’t say determines our attitudes, behaviors, and course of action. As Marshall Rosenberg wisely said: “Words are windows, or they’re walls. They sentence us or set us free”. So, by changing how we communicate with ourselves (which means our inner dialogue) and others, we can develop new opportunities to build relationships, achieve our goals or overcome challenging situations.

An example is mastering the art of saying no. With technology, flexible working hours, and ever-changing workplaces, setting healthy boundaries has become a real challenge for many.

You find yourself replying to your boss’s text messages late at night or completing tasks outside the standard working hours. You often feel overwhelmed by being behind in your schedule and tolerate your work taking precious time from your family and passions.

If I asked how you are going to reestablish boundaries between your personal and professional life, the initial reactions probably would be: “My boss doesn’t listen to me,” “It’s out of my hands,” and “None complete this task unless I do it myself” and so on. But are you sure there is nothing you can do? Is nothing in your area of control that you can change?

What if you told your boss that you could not talk now and would reply to their text in the morning as soon as you get to the office? What if you declined the invitations to conference calls scheduled outside working hours, proposing a different time that works for you best? Are you sure there is nothing on your agenda that cannot be rescheduled or replanned?

Saying no is a powerful statement; of course, finding the right way to do it is essential not to compromise our relationships.  It is a skill that can be learned to be more productive, more confident, and in control of our time. Declining others’ requests that go beyond the boundaries we established in our personal or professional life, we also honor our need to feel respected and communicate the value of our time and efforts to others.

Published by La Voce di New York on February 4th, 2023

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