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Women at Work: 12 Phrases to Set Boundaries and Manage Your Energy

Kyra Cavanaugh recently told us to “Be Brave!” when confronting workforce issues as individual contributors. Now, I want to share some boundary-setting conversations we can have with others to achieve optimal work-life balance and, at the same time, better manage our energies.

Too often, women are giving away their energy to everyone but themselves. We hold ourselves back by our inability to set boundaries. We say “Yes” to meetings, volunteer projects and even family requests, when we should be saying “No.”

We need to be more intentional about protecting and restoring our energy.

Why is this a practice women need to adopt at work? Setting boundaries can have an enormous impact on our quality of life. When we gain the courage and the confidence to manage boundaries, we become more effective and productive.

Better Boundaries = Better Energy

By better managing our boundaries, we protect our energy at work and in life.

When our energy is high, we are more emotionally and mentally present, making us greater contributors to team (or family) success.

Admittedly, boundary-setting conversations can be difficult. But sometimes, measured confrontation is necessary for overall team health and company growth.

Here are 12 phrases you can use to initiate boundary-setting conversations.

  1. “Part of my job is to manage boundaries. We need to discuss some influences that are getting in the way of my team doing its job. Here’s what we need to be successful…”
  2. “We need to keep the big picture in mind. Here’s why that doesn’t fit right now…”
  3. “These are the capacity issues I see on my team and these are the outcomes I expect if we don’t address it.”
  4. “Saying yes to that project will come at a cost for us. We either need to increase resources or accept the high likelihood of staff turnover.”
  5. “What you’re proposing is not sustainable long-term.”
  6. “Is that the right approach or are we resisting pushback on the client?”
  7. “Here’s how I define success, and here’s what’s getting in my way.”
  8. “I can’t do that AND do good work on [blank]. So let’s talk about priorities and resources.”
  9. “I’m not willing to make that sacrifice/trade-off.”
  10. “What you’re asking for doesn’t align with the priorities and values we’ve established.”
  11. “I can’t say yes to that right now, but I’d be happy to reconsider in a month depending on the priorities on my plate at that time.”
  12. “I don’t have the energy to put toward that right now, but I do have energy for [blank] if you could use my help there instead.”

As a principal of Life Meets Work, Teresa Hopke plays a lead role in the company’s strategic direction and consulting projects. She specializes in helping organizations close the leadership skills gap, manage through change, and develop custom coaching solutions that help people thrive in both the workplace and their personal lives. Learn more about Teresa and the team, and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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