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4 Reasons to Advocate for Yourself at Work
Practicing self-advocacy skills at work is a no-brainer once you see how it can benefit both your career and life.
- It raises awareness of the problems you face. Unless you speak up about the problems that affect you, your coworkers may not even realize that there are problems. For example, if someone else is taking credit for your work, you can advocate for yourself by informing them that they're acting inappropriately; otherwise, they may never change their behavior.
- It fast-tracks career advancement. Most jobs are competitive environments where everyone is looking to move forward, so it's crucial that you learn to advocate for yourself in order to move ahead.
- It ensures your rights aren't violated. Abusive employers may take advantage of employees who don't speak up for themselves. For instance, a manager might suggest their subordinate should work overtime to finish a project without extra pay. This is a direct violation of employee rights, and if the worker doesn't advocate for themselves, their boss will most likely continue the harmful behavior.
- It will help you decrease stress in all areas of life. Advocating for yourself at work is a great jumping-off point for practicing self-advocacy in your personal life as well. Whether you're dealing with an intrusive family member or a disrespectful roommate, learning how to fight for your needs in a healthy and productive manner will decrease the stress you experience on a daily basis.
8 Tips for Advocating for Yourself at Work
If the idea of advocating for yourself at work seems overwhelming at first, try using these tips to build your self-advocacy skills.
- Align your goals with your company's goals. In other words, make sure what you want also benefits your company. The next time you ask for something you want at work, frame it as a win-win for both you and your company.
- Know your worth. Before making an important request—whether it's a promotion, raise, or added responsibilities—be able to articulate the value that you bring to your company. That means preparing a list of all your strengths, brainstorming anecdotes that show your contributions, and even having statistical data that proves how you've benefited the business.
- Build self-confidence. To be your own best advocate, you have to truly believe that you're capable of achieving your goals. Self-doubt can make a coworker doubt your abilities—if you don't believe you're the best candidate for a job, then why should they? Do whatever you can to be as confident as possible. Reciting positive affirmations, visualizing success, listing out your strengths, getting out of your comfort zone, and wearing nicer clothes are all ways to become more confident.
- Keep it professional. A key part of being an effective self-advocate is to not let your emotions get the best of you when engaging in difficult conversations. Instead of focusing on your feelings, highlight concrete examples of why you deserve what you want and do so in a calm and professional manner.
- Flaunt your achievements. Let your coworkers and bosses know how hard you've been working instead of just hoping they see it for themselves. This doesn't mean you should constantly brag, but celebrate your achievements when appropriate. Make your work ethic noticeable by going above and beyond expectations.
- Form genuine relationships. Go out of your way to build solid working relationships with your colleagues so that other people notice your hard work as a team player. That way, when it's time to advocate for yourself, you won't have to do as much convincing to prove that you deserve to have your request met. Earning a reputation as someone who is trustworthy and hardworking is a crucial part of self-advocacy.
- Set a timeframe to implement your desired outcome. Without a deadline it's easy for your superior to procrastinate the execution of any agreed-upon changes. Once your request is accepted, make sure to specify an exact time period that you'd like the changes to go into effect. This way, there's no excuse for anyone dragging their feet. As the deadline approaches, don't be afraid to politely follow-up and check-in.
- Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Consider your request from your boss’s perspective and list all the potential reasons they might turn down your request. Then, come up with solutions to all of those potential issues. For example, if you think your boss might say you don't have the proper training for the new role that you want, find a coworker who does have that training and ask if you can shadow them. This type of preparation shows your boss that you’re ready to advance in your career.
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