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what do healthy boundaries in the work place look like?

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Alyssamd24 posted 10/17/2013 16:47 PM

I posted something yesterday and some of the comments got me thinking, and I am now realizing one of my issues may be with establishing healthy boundaries.

In that thread I mentioned that I have never worked in a place with healthy boundaries. ...I just had a "duh" moment and realized the places I have worked arent the problem. ...its my own issues with boundaries.

But I don't know where the line is ...what is considered poor boundaries and what is considered healthy?

How much self disclosure and personal information is too much? Many of the adults I know have acquaintances from their jobs. ...they may still have some friends from highschool or college, but the majority of friendships(and socializing) have come from people met at a how do you develop friendships with coworkers but still have healthy boundaries?

heartache101 posted 10/17/2013 17:07 PM

No discussion about your marriage to anyone other then Great everything is great!
Other peoples relationship problems are just that their problems!
No touching spanking of the opposite sex.
No opposite sex friendships you are married what do you need with a opposite sex friend?
If someone comes on to you tell them you are not like that you value your marriage and your beautiful spouse.
Basically just think if your spouse is with you would you really act like you do?
You sure dont need their cell numbers or emails.

Alyssamd24 posted 10/17/2013 17:32 PM

Thank you heartache.... but what about boundary issues when it comes to members of the same sex?
What is considered appropriate then?

I don't have any male coworkers and haven't had any in my field it is mainly women.

I do appreciate your response and hope more people will add their responses cuz I am interested in what others think about this.

wifehad5 posted 10/17/2013 17:32 PM

I think it's important to remember that you've only known these people for a few days, so they are still virtual strangers. What you share with acquaintances and what you share with long term friends should look very different.

Alyssamd24 posted 10/17/2013 17:54 PM

Good point!! I'm not ready to share anything personal with any of them. ...I agree that that should be reserved for long term friendships.

I just don't know what is considered healthy and what is considered unhealthy.

For example, talking to a male coworker about an issue with my husband would be a boundry issue.

But what if I were talking to a female coworker? Would that still be inappropriate or would it be more accepted since we are both women, and women often talk to their women friends about problems like that?

AFrayedKnot posted 10/17/2013 18:12 PM

The only people who we will discuss issues in our relationship with are people we have previously agreed upon as Friends Of The Marriage.

Our definition of FOTM is: someone who knows us both well, is impartial, would call either of us out on our shit, has the best interest of our relationship in their heart.

knightsbff posted 10/17/2013 19:02 PM

Prior to the A I would discuss my H with female coworkers. Everyone would engage in conversation about their husbands. Also at times I would share information that should have been private between my H and I (sex, family issues).

Everyone at work would participate in these conversations. It wasn't until after d-day when I started looking at myself and learning about boundaries that I realized this is NOT healthy.

Now I don't share private things about our life without clearing it with my H. I think about his privacy and comfort first. I would definitely NOT complain about my H to others. These are changes that came mainly from reading on SI but I have also done some reading about boundaries. I'm still working on it.

20WrongsVs1 posted 10/17/2013 19:34 PM

Whether you meet at work or elsewhere, there is plenty of conversation territory to cover without going into personal details about oneself or one's family. The great thing about people is, we love to talk about ourselves! Capitalize on that. Meeting these new coworkers is a great opportunity for you to practice active listening, nod sympathetically, or...if conversation becomes inappropriate you can suddenly need to pee. When friends start venting about their spouses, it can be tempting to establish rapport by reciprocating. Don't do it. No need to brag about BH gratuitously either, but there's absolutely no, "Yeah, i hate it when BH does that too!" Ever.

knightsbff posted 10/17/2013 19:37 PM

(Copied from

Characteristics of Healthy Boundaries:
-Says “yes “ or “no” without fear or guilt/acknowledges “free choice” in decision-making.
-Accepts “no” from others
-Shares personal information gradually in a mutually trusting relationship
-Expects reciprocity in relationships and shares personal responsibility
-Identifies when the problem is “theirs” and when it is not
-Does not rescue others from taking responsibility
-Does not tolerate abuse or disrespect

Characteristics of Unhealthy or Rigid Boundaries:
-Gives a “no” response if the request involves close interaction
-Avoids intimacy at all costs and may even sabotage a relationship to do so
-Does not share any personal information in a relationship
-Has difficulty identifying wants, needs, or feelings
-Has few or no close relationships

Characteristics of Unhealthy or Collapsed Boundaries:
-Unable to say “no” due to fear of rejection
-Exhibits a high tolerance for abuse or disrespect
-Absorbs the feelings of others (I feel and know your pain)
-Shares “too much information” before establishing mutual trust in a relationship
-Avoids conflict at all costs
-Possesses no clear identity or sense of self.

Alyssamd24 posted 10/17/2013 20:28 PM

What you described is very similar to the conversations I have had with coworkers throughout the years.

The list was very helpful and interesting to me,especially the part that says "absorbs the feelings of others- I know and feel your pain." When I read that I thought of empathy,which I think is a good trait to have, so I thought it was strange it was in the unhealthy's possible I misinterpreted it though.

courageous posted 10/17/2013 20:42 PM

Characteristics of Unhealthy or Collapsed Boundaries:
-Unable to say “no” due to fear of rejection
-Exhibits a high tolerance for abuse or disrespect
-Absorbs the feelings of others (I feel and know your pain)
-Shares “too much information” before establishing mutual trust in a relationship
-Avoids conflict at all costs
-Possesses no clear identity or sense of self.

oh my! Have you been watching me? All kidding aside and I hope you don't mind me adding to this topic because I am curious too. I have good boundaries with male coworkers and keep male friends very distant (don't do anything alone with them, don't call them, only spend time with them with my spouse/SO) but female coworkers... That's a horse of a different color!

So I realize now I have little to no boundaries with female coworkers and boss... specially the more dominate/ confrontational personalities. So now what? What do I do? How do I create/ build boundaries? Specially after I have been sharing details for over a year. It's to the point my boss gets PISSED off at me if I'm not in a cheerful mood. I'm teased when I'm quiet (we all have lunch together and I'm usually reading SI)

heartbroken2012 posted 10/18/2013 08:10 AM

You sure dont need their cell numbers or emails.

This is a BIG one I think.

No personal details about your marriage.

No friends of the opposite sex

No alone lunches with the opposite sex

No after work hours communication.

Those are a few that I am mentioning thanks to my wayward husband.

UndecidedinMA posted 10/18/2013 12:21 PM

My boundaries a very simple. I put the shoe on the other foot, would I want my FWSO to do/say/be that. If the answer is no then don't do it.

I work in a venue that is almost all men & have had no trouble letting it be known what is & isn't appropriate around me. I have only had to have 1 confrontation in all my years here(29.

Once set just stick to them, it is so easy to let your guard down.

(edited cause I ain't so good a speller )

[This message edited by UndecidedinMA at 12:22 PM, October 18th (Friday)]

Catwoman posted 10/18/2013 12:31 PM

I think most people over share with their colleagues, which leads to a false sense of intimacy, which then puts them straight on the slippery slope.

I don't share anything other than superficial things with my co-workers. Nothing more personal than edited weekend plans, basic information about myself and my children, limited information about my personal life.

I am here to work, not to make friends. I certainly want to be friendly and kind, but that is a far cry from being friends with these people.

I have to associate with these folks 40 hours a week, and they with me. I try and make it as pleasant as possible, but they are not my friends and likely will never be. They are not part of my Facebook community (but some of them are on LinkedIn).

Stop looking to work as a social opportunity/community and see it as where you have your professional persona on.


Skan posted 10/19/2013 15:46 PM

While my boss (female) and I share a bit, if it's going to impact work (her, when she was going through a divorce, me when I started an in-house separation with my FWH), that's it. We are there to do a job. We are not there to gossip about who she's dating or how my Friday night talk with FWH went, etc. We're there to work. When we go out to lunch, we may share a bit more of what's going on in our lives during part of the lunch, but it's not intimate by any stretch of the imagination.

I have been pressed at other jobs, to overshare. I'm good at deflecting with a joke, etc, but I have no problem whatsoever simply looking at someone and saying that's a bit too personal, sorry.

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