How to Create Personal and Professional Boundaries Online

Countless examples of employees and employers speaking their mind on social media exist online. When this happens, the outcome is always ugly. Most people lose their jobs due to unfavorable and controversial statements.  Some people receive suspensions or issue an apology. Regardless, it never ends well. An example stems from California where a real estate professional named Lauren Houston lost her job for posting offensive remarks about Mexicans and African-Americans on Instagram.  The lesson here is to keep personal and professional lives separate. Here's how.

Traditional boundaries

The personal and professional lines begin with creating mental and physical boundaries.  The professional life involves workplace-related functions.  Personal lines are your family, your spouse, your children, the home, home-related errands, and personal activities.  Professional drama should never enter the house, and personal drama should never enter the work environment.  Mentally and physically creating that boundary is not easy, so it will take practice mastering this technique.  It is a matter of forcing your brain to focus on work after leaving home and forcing to focus on home duties after leaving work.

Spoken Word

Separating personal and professional lives involves separating personal viewpoints from professional ones.  Employed professionals must keep personal opinions of clients, co-workers, management, and business partners to themselves.  Never show bias or prejudice toward anyone. Customers turn away from you and toward your competition.  Any tension will create a hostile work environment. 

Social Media Boundaries

Many workers know how to separate personal and professional lives offline.  On social media, the line is blurry.  For most, social media accounts are personal, and we don't draw a line for our profession. We feel comfortable sharing our emotions and opinions to our friends, followers, and visitors.  Many users initially speak unafraid, but when her followers or friends read it, the words turn offensive. Now a harmless opinion has become careless and tasteless. Likewise, careless and tasteless opinions posted online creates nuclear backlash. 

As a result, social media's effect on the workplace forces employees and employers to create boundaries.  

  • View social media as your boss.  Never post updates you're afraid to say in person. Think about your words before you type and post it. 
  • Alternatively, sift through the social network's settings and make the page private.  If you want it public, however, use privacy settings to send the right messages to the right people. 
  • A third idea is to create a professional and personal account.  Link personal sites together, then link professional sites together.  Never join personal and professional accounts together.  The birth name, username, profile picture, and similar details must differentiate between professional and personal accounts.  Share only professional links with your job. 

It's one thing to speak your mind, but it's a different matter when it affects your job.  Employees and employers deal with many co-workers and customers with various ethnicities, beliefs, and personalities.  Since companies rely on consumers to thrive, companies cannot afford to navigate controversy and backlash because it hurts their reputation and finances. 

Protect you and your job by avoiding conflict and keeping personal opinions and beliefs to yourself.