How to Advocate for Yourself at Work
An Evio Exclusive written by See Girl Work an Evio Community Partner
Sometimes we “put up” with stuff. Whether it’s a slow computer, the water machine always out of service or the colleague who will never clean up their crumbs.
Most people are not big fans of conflict and sometimes it’s easier to run away from your problems. It’s hard to not be scared of stepping on someone else’s toes and much easier to remain quiet instead of straight-up asking for what you deserve. Given that we’re conditioned to be “good girls” and to not disrupt, it’s no wonder so many of us don’t ask for what we need. But there are times that you absolutely don’t have a choice but to take the bull by the horns and let everyone know that they need to take you seriously.
No matter what industry or level you are in your career, you might have already encountered instances that have required difficult conversations. The overbearing boss. The co-worker who always misses deadlines. The client who insists on getting more than what’s outlined in the contract. As much as you’d like to dismiss those issues, it’s in the best interest of your career to advocate for yourself and confront them head-on. No one loves the idea of having a difficult conversation or confronting someone—you worry about what you’re going to say, how you’ll be perceived and what the final outcome will be.
How can you be sure you’re not coming across as a nuisance? How can you be sure that your concerns are being taken seriously?
Here are some tactics that should help prepare you to advocate for yourself at work.
1. Meet 1-on-1
Make sure to check in regularly with your manager. Effective 1-on-1 meetings are an opportunity for feedback, coaching, relationship-building and talking about all the important things that might slip pass during the day-to-day grind.
During these meetings, detail your accomplishments as well as any obstacles so that when you advocate for yourself, it won’t come as a surprise. In fact, they may offer you what you’re looking for before you even have to ask!
2. Pick the Perfect Timing
Last year Forbes published a Dear Liz where the reader wrote in: “I had my performance review two weeks ago. I asked my boss for a bigger-than-average pay raise and I got shot down. She said "You do a great job, Mickey, but we set our budgets for 2017 a long time ago. I didn't know you were looking for more than the average increase."
Asking for a raise is very hard for many of us because it calls to mind questions of self-worth, potential conflict and fear of rejection. But figuring out when to ask your boss is important.
Time speaks with a loud voice in every business. Picking the perfect timing is important when you need to advocate for yourself at work.
3. Manage Your Emotions
It is hard for us, as humans, not to be emotional. A lot of us get nervous when we have to ask for something we want. But instead, try to reframe nervousness as excitement. It’s an opportunity to learn rather than a pass or fail a test. This should help take the pressure off.
4. Do Your Research
How will the change you’re proposing benefit your employer or your client? Put yourself in their shoes. Will it save money or increase company morale? What evidence do you have to back up the benefits you’re claiming?
When you are planning to advocate for yourself at work, bring hard facts to support your requests. Make sure to use reputable sources like Glassdoor, Forbes or LinkedIn articles.
If you’re a freelancer confronting a client, be sure to bring past client success stories and testimonials to the forefront.
5. Be a Problem-Solver
People tend to do three things when faced with a problem: they get afraid or uncomfortable and wish it would go away; they feel that they have to come up with an answer and it has to be the right answer, and they look for someone to blame.
But complaining without offering solutions doesn’t work and is the easiest way to be seen as a “squeaky wheel,” be turned down or even risk losing your job. You were hired because you are a problem-solver, so demonstrate your skills.
Issues pop up. It’s life. But knowing a few problem solving strategies and how to deal with them will not only do wonders for your stress levels, but also for your career. Being an effective problem-solver will help you successfully advocate for yourself at work.
When you advocate for yourself at work, it can be scary. But no matter what, the key is to be proactive and make it simple for your manager to help by clearly defining your goals. In the end, your boss will most likely respect your confidence, self-awareness and directness. With this, you can feel ready to take on the professional world and be a well-respected self-advocate!