I recently interviewed Sharon Teitelbaum, a Work-Life Balance and Effectiveness Coach, on setting boundaries, why they’re important, and the pitfalls of not establishing them.


Sharon says boundary setting is important for the same reason that having a budget is important: your time and energy are finite resources. If you give them away to all the people and projects knocking at your door, it’s likely you won’t have the time and energy for what’s most important to you.


Boundary setting is about protecting what’s most important to you, allowing you to set your priorities and keep them. And, it is essentially about saying: No. You must learn to say no to those people and requests that distract you from your work priorities.


However, what often holds people back is their fear of the consequences. They don’t want to let a friend or co-worker down, or have them get upset because you can’t fulfill their needs or requests. But, being unable to say no has its own set of problems. When you can’t establish your boundaries, you will be taken advantage of, and quickly learn that pleasing everyone else before taking care of yourself damages your self-esteem.


Sharon says that in order to set boundaries, you must use language that’s neutral and clear. By neutral, she means that it doesn’t have an emotional charge to it, and it doesn’t make you or the other people feel criticized. And, by clear, she means to keep your language simple and direct.


Remember, if you can’t set boundaries, then you are only hurting yourself. Once your boundaries are clear, people will understand them and respect them, and your working relationship with them will bloom rather than wilt.


To visit Sharon’s website, go to www.stcoach.com, where you can read more about her expertise in work-life effectiveness and productivity.