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Strictly Business: Boundaries and Consent

When we think about consent and boundaries, our minds often jump to the realm of sex and love. We discuss the importance of asking for consent and respecting boundaries in romantic relationships. Still, we often overlook that these concepts apply to all areas of our lives.

Professional boundaries refer to the limits we set around our work responsibilities, time, and relationships with colleagues and managers. These boundaries allow us to negotiate the value of our work while not putting our worth as a human in our employer's hands. They also provide us with the space to be our authentic selves and thrive personally and professionally. 

Here are some reasons why we should be exploring consent and boundaries in all areas of our lives:

It promotes respect: When we ask for consent and respect boundaries, we respect the other person's autonomy and agency. We acknowledge that they have the right to make their own decisions and that we are not entitled to their time, attention, or physical space.

It creates a safer environment: By asking for consent and respecting boundaries, we create a safer environment for ourselves and others. We are establishing clear expectations and guidelines for behavior, which can help to prevent misunderstandings, miscommunications, and even harm.

It fosters healthy relationships: When we prioritize consent and boundaries in our relationships, we are fostering healthy relationships based on mutual respect, trust, and communication. We create a space where both parties feel heard, valued, and safe.

It empowers us: When we ask for consent and set boundaries, we are asserting our own agency and take control of our lives. We communicate our needs and desires, and we are not afraid to speak up when those needs and desires are not met.

So how can we explore consent and boundaries in all areas of our lives? Here are some tips:

Start by reflecting on your own boundaries: What are your personal boundaries? What are you comfortable with and what are you not? Once you clearly understand your boundaries, it will be easier to communicate them to others.

Practice asking for consent: If you ask a friend if they want to hang out or ask a coworker if they're comfortable with a certain task, practice asking for consent in all areas of your life. This will help to establish a culture of consent and respect.

Respect other people's boundaries: When someone communicates a boundary to you, respect it. Don't push them to do something they're uncomfortable with, and don't take it personally if they say no.

Advocate for yourself: If someone is not respecting your boundaries, speak up. You have the right to set boundaries and to expect them to be respected.

Here are some tips on how to establish and maintain professional boundaries in the workplace:

Define your priorities: Start by identifying your personal and professional priorities. What are your values, goals, and aspirations? How much time and energy do you want to devote to work versus other aspects of your life? Once you clearly understand your priorities, you can set boundaries that align with them.

Communicate your boundaries: It's important to communicate your boundaries clearly and assertively. Let your colleagues and managers know what you are comfortable with and what you are not. For example, let them know if you don't want to be contacted outside of work hours. If you need time off for personal reasons, communicate that as well.

Stick to your boundaries: Once you've set them, it's important to stick to them. This can be challenging, especially if you're used to putting work first. However, by prioritizing your own needs, you'll be able to perform better in the long run.

Speak truth to power: It's important to speak up when you feel your boundaries are being violated or are not being treated fairly. This can be especially challenging for people in marginalized communities, who may feel that speaking up could put their livelihoods at risk. However, silence doesn't protect us from historical patterns impacting our livelihood. Speaking truth to power is a necessity, and it's important to advocate for ourselves and for others.

Take care of yourself: Finally, it's important to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Make time for self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones. Prioritizing your well-being will help you be more resilient and better able to navigate workplace challenges.


In conclusion, consent and boundaries are critical concepts that apply to all areas of our lives. By prioritizing consent and boundaries, we can create a safer, healthier, and more respectful environment for ourselves and others. So let's start exploring consent and boundaries in all areas of our lives and see how it can transform our relationships and interactions.

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