By Barb Ward

You’ve likely heard, maybe even to the point of exhaustion, that work-life balance is essential to both your personal life and your professional career. This balance has perhaps become even more imperative – and more difficult  – post-pandemic. This is where setting boundaries becomes so important.

The boundaries we set can directly affect our relationships with others. An ability to create mindful, healthy boundaries allows us to both effectively manage how we impact others and how others impact us. However, if boundaries are too restrictive, too loose, or too blurred, it can result in increased stress and dysfunction.

Innovative Connections has worked with many clients, helping them establish healthy boundaries from the foundations of the four quadrants of Emotional Intelligence. Creating these boundaries requires some level of trust and, ideally, direct communication between individuals to establish clear agreements. As we look at the four quadrants of emotional intelligence, we should consider how they might influence how we create and manage our boundaries?

  1. Self-Awareness: What motivates and influences your behavior in your relationships? Why do you create the boundaries you do? When you are establishing a boundary, do you discuss it explicitly?
  2. Self-Management: Do you say ‘no’ (keep things out) when you mean ‘no’? How about when you say ‘yes’ (let things in)? Do you use emotional regulation and pause before deciding to accept or decline in a situation?
  3. Social Awareness: Do you notice how those around you create their boundaries? How do your boundaries impact theirs, and how could yours be modified for a better outcome?
  4. Relationship Management: Do you actively establish agreements when creating boundaries with others? Do you clarify and renegotiate agreements when necessary? Do you honor the boundaries of others?

By thoughtfully considering the answers to these questions we can determine what we are doing well, and those areas where we could improve, ultimately making our boundaries more effective.

Setting healthy boundaries helps us create and maintain:

Psychological Health: We are social creatures who crave and require connection with others. However, it’s necessary for these connections to be managed thoughtfully. Setting clear expectations around our boundaries helps reduce the possibility of misunderstandings and increases engagement, satisfaction, and productivity in the workplace.

Healthy Relationships: By failing to create appropriate boundaries, others may unwittingly overstep our wishes and/or violate our preferences for what amount of ourselves we are willing to share. It takes introspection and social awareness to understand and create balance between our needs and the needs of others to best serve the relationship. In achieving that balance, these boundaries allow us to maintain our self-esteem, our happiness, and healthy relationships.

Resiliency: Boundaries are instrumental in dealing with stress. They bolster our resiliency by helping us effectively navigate and cope with challenges. Part of this ability allows us to ask for help when appropriate (and in the right ways), but it also gives us self-efficacy in knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no”.

Work Life Balance: When we communicate a clear delineation between what we will do and what we won’t do, we minimize potential conflicts in our work, and personal lives, and people know what to expect from us.

After we’ve set and communicated our boundaries, it’s important to follow-through on them and not let others manipulate or guilt us into changing our minds. While it can feel awkward to say “no” when we first begin, it becomes easier over time, and we will reap the rewards in the long run.

We’d love to talk with you if you are interested in learning more. Contact us at or call 970-279-3330.