Establish Healthy Boundaries to Achieve Happiness in the Workplace

One of the keys to happiness in the workplace is for employees to find the right balance between structure and freedom. Structure involves those formal and informal rules or codes of conduct that govern how you behave at work. More important, structure imposes certain boundaries within which you’re expected to freely operate — boundaries that are not to be crossed.

Here’s a list of boundaries having to do with power, civility, and intimacy that you probably don’t want to cross if you hope to be happy at work:

  • Don’t tell your supervisor that she is incompetent.

  • Never take it for granted that you’ll get a raise.

  • Don’t engage in gossip about fellow employees.

  • Don’t roll your eyes or otherwise act with contempt when someone is giving you constructive feedback about your job performance.

  • Don’t mistake friendly for flirtatious.

  • Never develop intimate relationships with others with or for whom you work — it’s not only risky, it’s often against company policy.

  • Don’t goof off just because the boss is away.

  • Don’t treat you coworkers with less respect than you do your family.

  • Never view those with whom you work as the enemy.

  • Support is okay, but don’t invite co-workers to be therapists.

And, here’s a list of healthy boundaries that go a long way toward insuring greater productivity and a sense of well-being in the workplace:

  • Always say “please” and “thank you” when interacting with superiors and co-workers.

  • Be personable, but not too personal at work. Your fellow employees don’t need to know everything there is to know about your life.

  • Always remember that even a bad boss is still a boss. Treat him as such.

  • Where possible, confine work to the workplace — off-site, after-hours socializing is rarely about work.

  • Treat a one-time kindness as a gift, not a precedent.

  • If you get paid for eight hours, work eight hours.

  • Reach out to coworkers in need without intruding in their lives.

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