Boundaries / Coaching

Don’t Quiet Quit, Set Boundaries!


Did you see the old Seinfeld episode where George Costanza puts a blanket and alarm under his desk? George didn’t want to work, and he didn’t want to quit. And his boss was a jerk. George was a quiet quitter.

Quiet quitting is in the news and if you still haven’t heard about it, it’s being described as staying in your job, but only doing just what you need to do to NOT get fired.

From Forbes: “A recent survey conducted by Indeed reported that 52% of all workers feel burned out, up 9% from a pre-Covid survey, and Gallup recently reported that “quiet quitters” make up 50% of the workforce, maybe even more.”

Wow. That’s a huge number of people. And this is even harder to read:

“Those who work virtually are more likely to say burnout has worsened over the course of the pandemic (38%) than are those working on site (28%); other notable differences can also be found in each group’s ability to unplug and the availability of perks.” From Indeed.

Working virtually is even harder? Clearly there’s a problem that needs a new solution. People are finding a work/life balance is difficult to achieve and this can be especially so when working from home because work is harder to turn off when you live in the middle of it.

What is really going on here? People aren’t taught how to establish boundaries. When we were kids, we aren’t allowed to have boundaries. We can’t say “NO,” or something like “that’s more than I can handle right now.” And so that follows us into adulthood. How many times have you said no or some version of it to your boss? Some people can do this easily, but many simply cannot.

Things get even tougher when working for a boss who’s a jerk. How do you tell the jerk you can’t work late, or over the weekend? Fear of being fired is real, even if we hate our job or the jerky boss.

How can we learn to set boundaries and let people know just where these boundaries are?

Here are some work boundaries to establish:

  • Save your hugs for friends—colleagues get a handshake.
  • Say ‘no’ to work that’s after your scheduled time, including weekends.
  • Use your sick days for your mental health days when you need them.
  • Put on headphones when you don’t want to be disturbed if you don’t have a door to close, or use some other way to let colleagues know you can’t be disturbed.
  • Ask people not to call you at home about work issues.
  • Share your personal life carefully. Coworkers don’t need to know all about you, unless you feel it’s appropriate. And know that if one or two people know, then eventually everyone will know.
  • Keep your work hours separate from your personal hours.
  • Let people know how you like to receive feedback.
  • Don’t get sucked into someone else’s bad mood.

How to say it:

“I’m not available to work over the weekend, but tell me how I can help you during my regular schedule.”

“In order to do my best work on this project, I’m not able to take on another right now.”

“I’m on vacation, but (name) will help you with this matter, or you can wait until I return.”

“Thanks for calling, but let’s discuss this at work tomorrow.”

There are a lot of great examples online about what to say and how to say it, so look around and get rely comfortable with what you want and how you want to say it so that you don’t damage work relationships.

Forget quiet quitting and take back control of your life by setting boundaries!

The Nap
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