What to Do When You Struggle With Work/Life Balance
Questions answered about dilemmas with your work
Here are a few questions I’ve been asked recently and my answers. If you have a question you’d like to ask send them over to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Q. I told my boss that I had to take my child to a doctor’s appointment and she rolled her eyes at me. How would you handle this situation?
A. It’s dangerous to assume that you know the reason behind the eye-rolling, so ask what his/her issue is with your request.
Then, and this may be the hard part, listen to what they have to say without getting defensive. To help, look at this conversation as a fact finding mission.
Active listening will move you pass the eye-rolling. The eye-rolling is a blatant hint that your manager has an issue but doesn’t feel like they have the space to share their concerns, so give them this space. You’ll gain clarity about your bosses priorities and clarity feels good.
When you’ve asked as many questions as you can ask one more, “Is there anything else you’d like to share?” and then be quiet. At this point they have said their peace and giving them the chance to think about everything they have shared may bring out one more golden nugget of information.
Lastly, thank them for sharing their thoughts. You now have something to work with! There’s no more dangerous assuming because you know what they are thinking (for the most part).
Say that you’d like to take time to think about what’s been said and that you’ll come back with your thoughts in a few days.
Q. My boss schedules meetings for 4:30 PM when I’ve got to leave by 5 PM to pick up my kids from daycare, what should I do?
A. How will you set the boundary that you must leave at 5PM?
Know your audience.
If your manager is dominate and task oriented keep to the facts in your boundary explanation and leave emotions (yours and your child’s) out of it.
What are the facts?
- You signed an agreement with daycare that you’d pick up your child at 5PM. You want to respect your daycare provider’s time and also not pay late fees.
- Being late disrupts your family’s schedule for the evening.
- You value your career but you value your family as well.
- It saddens your child when they are the last to be picked up.
- Your drive to daycare can be reckless because of speeding and you are filled with anxiety and guilt.
If your manager is more of a people person and one that likes to think things over be sure to share your feelings but avoid ranting. When you set this boundary it’s best to do so face to face. Try using the AEIOU model to help get your point across assertively.
Q. Recently I’ve felt uneasy talking to my boss about a kid-related problem. My boss just doesn't get family issues!
A. This is a great question and one that comes up often. It’s a good to be specific about your personal needs and then to prioritize them, constantly. Ask yourself what personal priorities need to come first why?
Compare these personal priorities to your career priorities. What can give and what can’t?
When you know the answers to these questions you feel less frazzled and can explain yourself better.
This goes vice versa as well! When career priorities need to come first, for example you are going after a stretch goal, your support system needs to be on alert.
Set the expectation with them that you’ll be committing more time and energy to work to see things through and that you’ll need back up.