Setting Intellectual Boundaries at Work

Setting Intellectual Boundaries at Work

Boundaries are not just physical. We also need to maintain intellectual boundaries at work.

If I did everything that everyone wanted from me, I would find myself on the floor in the middle of the night, crying in a ball. Working moms need to learn how to set boundaries, so we won’t be stretched too thin.

There are a lot of different boundaries that we can set – physical, sexual, time-based, financial, etc. What we don’t talk about often are our intellectual boundaries. 

Intellectual boundaries are so important, especially at work. Intellectual boundaries examples are having respect for different opinions, having respect for curiosity, having respect for open dialogue. It’s vital to our career and our sanity, that we have intellectual boundaries, and that we are consistent with them.

Let’s define boundaries first. They are about you and what you’re willing to accept. They are not about other people’s actions and you wanting to change them. Boundaries are truly about YOU. 

Giving someone the silent treatment, because they aren’t respecting your boundaries, is not the best path forward. You need to address it, and then be consistent with the boundary that you’ve set.

Boundaries are about you and what you’re willing to accept.

How do intellectual boundaries manifest at work? Here are some examples:

1) Refusing to discuss non-urgent items outside of a workday

Have you ever got a call on a Saturday or Sunday or has your boss ever called you at 2 am because they’ve got a brilliant idea? If it isn’t urgent, then it’s not the time to talk about it. You can say, 

✔️ “I’m looking forward to discussing it on Monday knowing it’s not time-sensitive.” 

✔️ “Let’s reschedule this. Let’s pick up this conversation tomorrow morning.”

✔️ “Let’s have this conversation at work.”

2) Not engaging with people who belittle you

It is okay to have a difference of opinion. We must have differences of opinion. If everyone was thinking and doing the same, we would be stuck in one place. 

Having differences in opinion is healthy and it doesn’t make anyone less valuable. Often, you’ll find that people who don’t agree with you will try to make you feel small or inadequate. Refusing to engage with them is setting intellectual boundaries.

✔️ “I understand you disagree, but that is not a reason to belittle me.”

✔️ “Let’s pick this topic up when you’re ready to have a respectful conversation.”

3) Agreeing to disagree

The best ideas come from people thinking a little bit differently. But some people are not okay with differences in opinions. Tension grows when we don’t see everything eye to eye all the time, so agreeing to disagree is extremely important. 

✔️ “I respect that we have different opinions. Here’s mine.”

✔️ “I hear you and I understand what you’re saying. I have a different opinion. And we can agree to disagree.”

In instances when people continue to push on you, you can ask them this question, “What would it take to change your mind?” Of course, you can also reflect on what it would take to change your mind. In a world where you disagree on things, your belief is rooted in something. So what would it take to change that belief?

4) Avoiding circular conversations

You’ve had those conversations that just go in circles and never go anywhere. If you’re in that situation, you can try to refocus the conversation.

✔️ “Each time we discuss this, we don’t get very far. Let’s refocus the conversation on an area where we can make traction.”

✔️ “Let’s talk about how we can make some progress.”

These are a few different ways to build better intellectual boundaries at work.

Refusing to engage with people who belittle you is not helpful,

Take Action

Did any of the examples resonate with you?

I want you to identify what intellectual boundary you’re going to focus on today and think about the words you’re going to use.

If you want more tips on empowering yourself and moving forward at work and if you’re ready to take a step to thriving as a working mom, book a consultation call for my Career Ownership VIP Day here.

Setting Intellectual Boundaries at Work - The Savvy Working Mom | Giving someone the silent treatment, because they aren't respecting your boundaries, is not the best path forward. You need to address it, and then be consistent with the boundary that you've set.

P.S. If you want more tips on taking control of your career and if you’re ready to take a step to thriving as a working mom, book a consultation call for my Career Ownership VIP Day here.