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How to Set Boundaries with Your Boss

Working in medical sales can be a bit tricky. You might spend evenings and early mornings at appointments with your clients, taking advantage of any timeslots they have available. Since you’ll be working outside of standard office hours, it may seem as though you’re on call 24/7, always available to respond to emails and phone calls from your boss.

Steps You Can Take to Set Boundaries

This isn’t the case, though. You do need some downtime for yourself, no matter what part of the day it takes place. In order to get that important time off and away from the job, you’ll need to set some boundaries with your boss.

Leave the Lines of Communication Open

Although you may desperately need an hour or two of time to yourself, you also need to make it clear to your boss that you’re available in case of an emergency. This will allow them to relax a little, knowing that you aren’t completely away from your phone or computer.

However, you do need to define exactly what an emergency is. Some people tend to think that everything is an emergency, while others adhere to a more standard definition of the word. By communicating about how to approach you during urgent situations when you’re away, as well as defining emergencies, your boss will understand this important boundary.

Frame Your Requests in Positive Language

Even though you’re setting these boundaries for your own mental health, it’s best not to draw attention to your needs using negative language. Saying something like, “I’m burned out and need a break” makes it sound as though the job is too much for you to handle.

Instead, phrase it with a positive spin that focuses the attention on how good your break will be for the team. “I need an hour each day to myself without work interruptions so that I can better focus on my job for the sake of the team.” That sounds a lot better. After all, it’s for the good of your entire team, whether you’re selling surgical tools or medications, that you have time to unwind and reset.

Determine What You Want to Prioritize

Before you meet with your boss to discuss your boundaries, spend some time reflecting on why you need them. What are your main priorities? Do you want to be sure that you can make it to your child’s sporting events on the weekend and enjoy the game without spending it entirely on the phone? Or do you need time and space every evening to relax, unwind and think about the day? Whatever you need to do to refresh and rejuvenate yourself is important. You’ll need to bring these matters up to your boss.

Become Comfortable with the Word “No”

Too often, people just say “yes” to everything. They’re afraid that if they decline a request to do something, it not only won’t be offered again but they’ll be viewed as someone who isn’t a team player. In addition, they also think it will get them in trouble.

However, the truth is that sometimes, you can say “no” without having to face any negative consequences. Obviously, you can’t do it all of the time, but if you’re comfortable in the situation, then you can turn things down without worry. It helps you reinforce your boundaries, making it clear to your boss that you aren’t willing to drop everything every single time.

Take Advantage of Your Software

Did you know that you set an away reminder on most office apps? For example, you can block out certain slots of time on your shared Google calendar, and you can even set times where you’re away from the computer on programs like Slack. As a result, your boss will be able to see when you’re away and should be left undisturbed.

You can use this “away time” for everything from your client appointments (when you definitely shouldn’t be disturbed) to those personal hours that you need every day or so. Also, by turning your phone onto the do not disturb setting during these times, no one will be able to get through to you until you turn the setting off. This also ensures that you can get some quality time to yourself.

Talk to HR

If you’re worried that your boss won’t respect your boundaries, or, alternatively, they keep disrespecting your boundaries, bothering you about non-emergencies during times when they said they wouldn’t, then it’s time to talk to HR. Keep everything documented, from your initial discussion with your boss regarding your boundaries to every time they’ve interrupted your personal time, and then present it to your human resources department.

Since they need to not only keep employees happy but also ensure that everyone is mentally well, it’s up to them to speak with your boss regarding your concerns. In addition, they have the power to move you to a different department or speak with your boss further if things continue to progress without improvement.

How to Approach Your Boss with a Boundary Request

Setting boundaries can take some time, and it isn’t something that can be done in a quick five-minute meeting. Instead of wandering into your boss’ office and catching them in the middle of something, which can lead to more of a negative response to your request than a positive one, email them or their administrative assistant and request a half-hour meeting with them. This way, they’ll have the time set aside for you, and you’ll have their full attention.

Since setting boundaries can be a bit of a give and take, be prepared for your meeting to include a bit of debate. You’ll need to explain what you expect, then your boss will explain what they expect, and you two will need to meet somewhere in the middle. It may take a few minutes to hammer things out, but in the end, you’ll have the beneficial “boss boundaries” set that you need, so you can be your best self on and off the job!

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