Some people prefer keeping friendships and work relationships separate, while others are comfortable getting more chummy with co-workers. The latter can get uncomfortable when a co-worker starts trespassing into personal territory. Establish with your co-workers how you expect to be treated by knowing and modeling your boundaries, being direct about your needs and confronting co-workers when necessary.
Know Your Boundaries
Figuring out what makes you comfortable is the first step toward establishing healthy boundaries, writes Margarita Tartakovsky, an associate editor of Psych Central, in her article "7 Tips for Setting Boundaries At Work." It may be that you are comfortable with some behaviors, but not others. Develop a clear idea about your limits and boundaries. Is it OK to go to the company cafe together during lunch break but not out to dinner? Do you prefer that she not email you at all for non-work-related questions? You may feel some topics are fine to talk about, while others are not.
If your co-worker is overstepping your personal boundaries, confront him directly. Simply saying you would like to "keep things professional" might not be clear enough, as different people have different standards of professionalism. Talk about your expectations in no uncertain terms by stating the exact behaviors that are troubling you. For example you might say, "I appreciate your enthusiasm about our recent project, but please do not call me outside of work hours," or "I prefer to keep my personal life to myself at work, so please keep the conversation work-related."
Having clearly set your boundaries, you must be equally clear about defending them when they are crossed. If your co-worker is a chronic offender, she may try to call your bluff or test you to see if you were serious. If she texts you after you have told her not to, tell her right away that this is not OK with you. If she surprises you with tickets to a sports event after you've told her that you are not interested in hanging out, you might say, "We've talked about this. I'm not interested in hanging out outside of work." Mentally prepare yourself for how you will respond to any boundary violations so you are not caught off guard.
Bring it to Higher Powers
If your co-worker continues to violate boundaries, he or she may be approaching harassment. Take your concern to higher authorities, such as a supervisor, manager or even Human Resources. Your superior will want to know that you have tried to remedy the situation by setting verbal boundaries and confronting any violations when they happened. She should then address this issue with the offending co-worker in a timely manner.
- Photo Credit feelphotoart/iStock/Getty Images
- Forbes: How to Approach the Boss When Conflict Arises at Work
- Better Boundaries: Owning and Treasuring Your Life by Jan Black
How to Avoid Nosy Questions
People tend to be naturally curious about their surroundings and can often ask questions that may be nosier than they realize. Work,...
When Can You Sue for Harassment & Emotional Distress?
If a coworker or supervisor constantly harasses you, or you have suffered emotional distress as a result of negligent behavior, you have...
How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers
As nice as you may be, you can't be sure that your coworkers will be as pleasant. At least one time in...
How to Answer Interview Questions about Your Personality
You've secured an interview and are prepared for the technical questions. What about your personality? More employers are asking questions to learn...
How to End a Romantic Relationship With Your Coworker
The relationship started out fine. You thought your decision to move forward on dating your co-worker was a good one. After all,...
How to Ask a Co-Worker for a Date
Everyone knows that most office romances never succeed, but everyone has heard one of the success stories.The man who quit his job...
How to Tell a Coworker She Uses Too Much Perfume
To your coworker, Poison is a must have perfume. To you, Poison is simply poison. You gag or get headaches whenever she...
How to Console a Co-Worker Who Was Fired
Getting fired is tough for anybody. When a co-worker is fired, it makes for an uncomfortable office environment because of the rumors...
Ways to Trace a Cheating Girlfriend
If you suspect that your girlfriend is cheating, you face an uphill battle. For starters, you don't yet have proof, and there's...
How to Answer an Inappropriate Question
Throughout your day at work, you may come across coworkers or supervisors that ask inappropriate questions about your personal life that don't...
How to Set Boundaries With Coworkers
It's natural to be friendly in the workplace, especially if your coworkers are open about their personal lives and try to draw...