7 Ways To Advocate For Yourself At Work
We don't get everything we want at work, but how do you know when you need to bide your time to ask again when you're more experienced, and when you should stick up for yourself and push your case? Sometimes you need to advocate for yourself at work and not accept a rejection lying down, because bosses make mistakes, too. Sometimes they flat out say no because they're too busy or stressed at the moment, other times they aren't quite aware of all your experience or background knowledge, or they might not be up-to-date with your recent successes or slayed projects. Rather than accepting an answer that you truly believe should be reconsidered, get brave and go advocate why you deserve a chance.But if you've never stuck up for yourself to your boss, or tried to make him or her reconsider her decisions, that can be an intimidating thing to do. You can't just charge in there and demand a retrial, right? Where does a person even start with a conversation like that? Well first thing's first: You need to request a meeting. After that, it'd be helpful to keep a couple of tips in mind to keep yourself from coming across as aggressive or unprepared, so below are seven tips on how to advocate for yourself at work.
1. First And Foremost: Believe You Deserve What You're Asking For
Before you go into your boss's office swinging, you have to be 100 percent on your side that you deserve whatever you're about to go fight for. Lisa Evans, business writer at entrepreneur site Fast Company, pointed out, "In order to be a good self-advocate, you need to have self-confidence...If you don’t believe that you’re the best candidate, you’ll send out that vibe." You can't have even 5 percent of you that kind of sort of thinks you might deserve to get shot down/ aren't ready/ maybe should ask for less/ etc. You need to have full conviction, or not bring it up at all. Have your back on this one!
2. Think Up Ways That You Can Make Your Request A Reality
Don't just walk into your boss's office with a request and let them do the legwork to make it happen. When you rely on someone else to move you ahead, you could end up waiting a long time. Take the responsibility into your own hands and draft a game plan on how she can offer you what you need.
Self-development writer Samantha Cooper from career development site Levo suggested, "If you’re not learning the skills you need, jot down a list of ideas of ways you can acquire those skills while still fulfilling your current role. For example, can you shadow someone whose position you might be interested in? Does your office have workshops you can partake in that foster self-development?" Write down a list of options or possible resolutions to fix your issue, and have that handy during your meeting.
3. Keep Emotions Out Of It
This conversation with your boss isn't about what you feel — it's about what you deserve. Because of it, leave feelings out of it.
Career coach Lea McLeod from career development site The Muse offered, "When you’re sharing what you need in a difficult conversation, stay calm, focused, and unemotional throughout the meeting. You’ll want to focus the conversation on what you need, rather than casting blame or criticizing others." Keep it to the point, clear, and professional. That's the best way to get your request heard.
4. Tailor Your Request Towards Who You're Asking
Bosses respond best when you explain how you reaching your goals helps them further theirs, so make sure your requests are tailored towards the bottom line of the person you're asking.
Evans said, "It isn’t enough to know yourself—you have to know who you’re trying to appeal to as well. If you’re trying to advocate for yourself to get a new job, for example, get to know your potential employer." If you build your case around points that he or she find really important, you'll get a better chance in being heard.
5. Don't Ask For Less In Order To "Increase Your Chances"
Just beacuse you ask for less than you originally wanted because you thought it'd increase your odds for a "yes" doesn't necessarily do anything. Mainly because your boss doesn't know you're asking for less; in the end you're just cheating yourself. Know your worth, and stand up for it!
Margie Warrell, an executive coach and Forbes contributor, said, "The reality is you will rarely, if ever, be given more than what you have the courage to ask for. So don’t dilute your requests in order to minimize the possibility of being turned down." If you ask for less, you'll get less. If you ask for more — there's a strong chance you'll get it.
6. Be Specific On When You'd Like These Changes To Happen
Once all your cards are on the table, don't forget to mention when you'd like to start moving on these changes or projects. Giving your boss a possible beginning time helps the process start a lot earlier than it would have if you didn't lay down the blueprint.
Warrell explained, "In the workplace, the biggest reason for unmet expectations is a lack of understanding of exactly what was expected. Asking someone to do something 'soon' can be interpreted in all sorts of ways."
Remember: Choose a date! Once you're in their planner, there won't be a reason why you wouldn't be moving forward.
7. Take Charge Even If You Get Denied
Even if you get shot down for your request, you can make baby-step strides towards it on your own time. Cooper recommended, "If a meeting with your manager is not possible, figure out other ways you can acquire the skills you need." If you can't shadow someone, read idustry books written on the topic. If you can't take lead on a bigger project, research and draft what you'd do on your own, and have it ready for a performance review. If you can't get formal training on a topic, try training yourself or consuming articles and podcasts on the subject. Take baby steps until you can re-ask your request during a better time.
Advocating for yourself can be scary, but in the end, your boss will most likely respect your confidence, self-awareness, and directness, even if you don't get exactly what you're trying to ask for.
Image: 20th Century Fox