How To Practice Self-Advocacy in the Workplace
From believing in your worth to joining the various affinity and support groups within the
workplace, here are the 10 answers to the question, "How can you practice self-
advocacy in the workplace?"
● Believe in Your Worth
● Come With Facts and Figures
● Train Your Bravery
● Set Boundaries Quickly and Early
● Focus On Your Strengths
● Communicate Your Needs Without Communicating Insecurity
● Keep Great Notes
● Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions
● Get to Know Your Management
● Join Affinity and Support Groups in the Workplace
Believe in Your Worth
You are your own best ally, so if you aren't willing to fight for yourself then who else will?
A big part of self-advocacy is believing in your own worth. for some people, this comes easier than others. If you struggle with self-confidence, you may want to try taking stock of the good you do in the office.
You need to celebrate even your small successes and understand the value of your job and the role you play in your company. If you can build your confidence, you'll have an easier time speaking up for yourself when it comes to issues in the office, whether that's petitioning for a raise or dealing with an unhealthy office environment.
Come With Facts and Figures
One best practice for self-advocacy in the workplace is to come to a meeting prepared with facts and figures. If you are trying to make a case for something, be sure to do your research so that you can speak with confidence about your position. This will help you to be more persuasive and make a stronger case for yourself. Plus, it will show that you are serious about the issue and that you have taken the time to do the research necessary to come to a conclusion. Fundamentally, self-advocacy is a kind of negotiation, and you will be most likely to succeed if you proceed from a position well-grounded in principle and objective criteria.
Train Your Bravery
Self-Advocacy takes courage and practice. For many people, the feeling of confrontation makes them leery to speak up for themselves. While some may be naturally outgoing, for the rest who aren't it can take more than a little practice to learn how to speak up for yourself. Try taking some lessons in public speaking. Those skills can translate very well into verbally and physically advocating for yourself while on the job.
Don't let being bad at self-advocacy stop you from putting in the effort. As you gain familiarity with speaking you'll find it easier to express your mind and give your opinions when it comes time to advocate for yourself.
Set Boundaries Quickly and Early
Self-advocacy is about showing people how to treat you. You do not have to wait for a crisis to stand up for yourself; you also do not have to be aggressive, assertive, or confident to start advocating for yourself.
Setting boundaries around your time and space is a good place to start. Understand what you are required to do, i.e., your responsibilities, and be honest about your capacity to do the job. If you cannot take on more work because your time and capacity do not allow it, consult your manager about the priorities. When they ask you to take on more work, bring them into the loop and ask them to help you identify the priorities and what they need you to work on first.
This approach should be an integral part of your interactions at the workplace-- set boundaries while still being a good team member and without isolating anyone or setting yourself back in your career.
-Joe Coletta, Founder & CEO, 180 Engineering
Focus On Your Strengths
In order to practice self-advocacy at work, I would say that the most important thing is to focus on your strengths. It's so easy to get overwhelmed by what you don't know and how much there is to learn which can make it difficult to feel confident about speaking up. But if you focus on your strengths, you can take steps toward making yourself more valuable and indispensable—and giving yourself more power in the workplace. The best way to do this is to ask yourself: What are my top three skills? What do others most appreciate about me? What's the one thing I'm really good at? When you know what you're good at, it's easier to advocate for yourself and to get the recognition you deserve.
Communicate Your Needs Without Communicating Insecurity
As a self-advocate, you need to understand your challenges and know what kind of support you need. You then need to communicate those needs to others and this is where many people stumble.
On one hand, if you dance around the issue and drop small hints, people may not understand your needs. On the other, if you are too blunt, you might have trouble building rapport or you could scare people. If you communicate too much insecurity to your manager, you could be looking for a new job very soon.
So, strike a balance. Be clear in communicating the support you need for success. Be confident about how you present your needs and frame any support you get as a win-win for all parties involved. And, be kind. If you feel that others on your team are not pulling their weight, don't take your frustration out on them. Instead, give them a reason to want to help you. This goes back to framing things where everybody wins and then following through.
Keep Great Notes
It can be tough for employees to advocate for themselves at work, whether it be for a raise, promotion, or something else. But when there's solid documentation to prove your case, not only does your confidence skyrocket but your reason for the 'ask' is validated. Keep a file with key accomplishments or results you've driven for your team or business. That way when you're ready to advocate for yourself, you have everything you need to back yourself up.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions
One big tip is don't be afraid to ask questions. But I would say that one of the best practices/tips for practicing self-advocacy in the workplace is to make sure you are always vocal about your strengths and what you can bring to the table. Sometimes it can be easy to downplay your abilities, but it's important to remember that your voice is just as valuable as anyone else's in the room. Additionally, be sure to ask questions when you don't understand something or need clarification - no one expects you to know everything, and admitting when you need help is actually a very strong asset. As an entrepreneur, I know that advocating for yourself is essential to success - so I would advise other business owners to do the same!
Get to Know Your Management
People are a lot less scary when they are a known quantity. If you have trouble advocating for yourself in the workplace it may be because you find your coworkers and management to be too alien to your person. If that feeling is holding you back from speaking up when you need to, then try reaching out and getting to know those around you, especially your bosses, who are often seen as the hardest to approach.
By getting to know those you work with, you can alleviate that feeling of fear of the unknown. This will make it easier to interact with those you work with, particularly when it comes to speaking up on your own behalf. You'll be likely to find that the majority of your apprehensions were based entirely on unfamiliarity and maybe a bit of shyness. Reach out and make connections, it can be a big help in overcoming your lack of self-advocacy.
Join Affinity and Support Groups in the Workplace
Self-advocacy can be exercised by joining the various affinity and support groups within the workplace to have your voice heard. Look for leaders that share similar ideologies and ways of doing business to align with them. Seeking mentors that are able to speak up in rooms where you are not present but will be fearless in raising concerns is key.