Be Honest about YOUR Boundaries

Is this you? You start working for somebody new and you want to make a good impression. Maybe you start carrying your BlackBerry with you everywhere and you answer them all night and all weekend. Every time they send you something, you answer them whether or not you are on call.

As time goes by you find that you are becoming annoyed by the people you work with. What is up with them? They call you or text you all hours of the day and night. When you do not answer right away they keep sending you message after message. You find yourself become ever more irritable. Is it unreasonable to want just a few hours to yourself?

Whose fault is this? It’s your fault, isn’t it? You were so eager to make a good first impression that you forgot that setting expectations is a two way street. You have now set an expectation that you are available 24/7. You didn’t necessarily ask for it. But you did demonstrate willingness to respond to work related communications all night and all weekend.

When you are working with someone new or you are on a new project of course you like to put forward a good first impression. But sometimes you put forth a Herculean effort. In other words, you work so hard and you really kill yourself to put forward that good first impression. You’re doing something that you really don’t want to do on a regular basis. Then you get burned out. You might become resentful. Perhaps you even start feeling like a victim or a martyr. It is really your fault; you made the decision to violate your own boundaries.

Be honest about your boundaries. If Sunday is family day, then Sunday is family day. Don’t accept a job where somebody sits you down and tells you we work tons of overtime every weekend.

Of course use some discretion. If your boss sends you something and it’s obviously important and urgent and it’s red and it’s flashing and all that, pay attention. But not every person who works over the weekend expects you to do the same thing.

If I’m your new manager, director, vice-president, project manager, team lead, supervisor, whatever and I see you working long hours, I might just assume that’s how you work. I might assume you live for work. I’m going to take it for granted; I’m going to expect this from you all of the time. It doesn’t mean necessarily I’m going to reward your behavior. I may or I may not.

In your haste to set a good first impression don’t do something that you’re not willing to do on a regular basis.

Know what you want, represent yourself as who you really are, be clear about how you would like to be treated and be honest about what does or does not work for you.