Boundaries are key to success in business and work-life balance. That’s why BLACK ENTERPRISE put together a panel of powerhouse female leaders to help offer insight on how to perform at your best without feeling walked over.
On Saturday, the Setting Boundaries at Work panel was hosted by Toyota and moderated by the Founder of The Corporate Alley Cat, Deborah T. Owens. Panelists included Senior Manager of the North America Executive Office at Toyota, Roslyn Barker, Equity Strategist and Waymakers author, Tara Jaye Frank, and Remote Work Expert, Libryia Jones.
Saying yes to everything, being available at all hours of the day, and never taking time off can put you on the fast track to burnout. Together, Owens led Barker, Frank, and Jones through an impactful discussion on setting boundaries without crossing team members.
When discussing how important it is to set boundaries at work, Frank explained how critical it was for her to understand her triggers.
“Boundaries keep me sane,” Frank said.
She also touched on how she is able to identify when a boundary has been crossed in a way that sets off a trigger because “something on the inside feels like it’s not right,” Frank said. “Over time you let it fester and it becomes a hot point.”
Barker shared how protective boundaries can be for our personal mental space and wellbeing. She also stressed the importance of “understanding” our priorities and capabilities, so that we can produce at our highest level.
Jones, who has dedicated her career to helping professionals adjust to remote work life, shared the mantra she takes into any job.
“I came on this planet to live. Not to work,” Jones said. “So boundaries help me compartmentalize on what’s most important.”
Elsewhere, the ladies explained how to identify boundaries and communicate them with your colleagues. Barker suggested respectfully asking a question in response to a colleague who might be crossing a boundary and setting off a trigger.
“Bringing it to their awareness in a way that isn’t offensive is very critical,” Barker said.
Frank suggested being “proactive and responsible” when communicating your boundaries as to not further ignite the fire in a potential work dispute.
The panelists recalled past work instances where white colleagues broke down in tears after being respectfully spoken to about boundaries. Some even provided examples on how to ask questions to help reach common ground instead of coming off hostile.
“Oftentimes we don’t enforce our boundaries because we assume other people’s expectations of us,” Jones said.
The ladies left some tips and tricks on the table for women in business to take with them to work.
“Understand when you’re the most powerful throughout the day and reserve that time to structure your schedule to be the most effective as possible,” Barker said.
For those who experience gaslighting at work, Frank suggested listening and responding with, “That’s not how I experienced that.”
They also encouraged other women to support someone who isn’t good with setting boundaries.