11 Times You Should Stand Up For Yourself At Work

If you are the type who marches into work with the utmost of confidence, asks for raises all the damn time, and always uses your vacation days, then congrats on having nerves of steel. Trust me, we all wish we had that level of self-esteem. The reality, however, is that standing up for yourself at work often feels incredibly scary, not to mention impossible.

If that sounds familiar, don't worry — you aren't alone. All jobs can feel intimidating, whether you work for a restaurant, a coffeeshop, a startup, or a huge corporate company. The rules are all the same, and they can really get to you. Mess up, and get demoted. Screw up, and get fired. Say the wrong thing, and ruin your reputation. No wonder so many of us try to keep quiet, put up with anything and everything, and then slip quietly out the door at 5 p.m.

It's definitely easier. And yet, not standing up for yourself at work can create quite the list of issues. Let's say you let your boss take advantage of your time, or you don't speak up when a position opens. Do this too often, and you'll soon find yourself overworked, under compensated, and super resentful. It's much better to be the type who marches into work with those nerves of steel, while snatching up respect and promotions left and right. Below are some ways to do just that.

1. When Your Boss Makes You Work Late... Again

Of course you should be willing to do most things your boss asks — within your job description, of course. But if he or she is clearly taking advantage of your time, it is definitely worth saying something. "It's either that or quit your job, or give up any hope of having a personal life," said Liz Ryan on Clearly, standing up for yourself is the better deal, even though it's scary.

2. When A Coworker Steals Your Idea

You don't have to go running to your boss like a tattletale. (In fact, you should avoid doing so at all costs.) But it is a good idea to acknowledge the situation, and get credit, if possible. One way to go about this is by expanding on the idea, and providing your boss with more information. "Once you share all the details and verifiable facts, the background and motivation for the thinking will make it obvious where it came from," said Brian de Haaff on

3. When You Need To Be Making A Good Impression

When you hear about a job opening, or chance for advancement, it's time to start in on that self-promotion. "Like it or not, self-promotion is part of responsible career management," said Helen Coster on Forbes. "People who tout their own achievements land plum assignments and promotions." So don't sink into your desk, and coast under the radar. Schedule a meeting with your boss, arm yourself with a list of achievements, and start making your awesomeness known.

4. When You Need A Vacation

I know, you feel bad about taking a week off, and you are nervous about asking. But trust me — you need, and deserve, that time. To make it easier on yourself, and your boss, simply give enough notice, according to Michele Herrmann on It'll show respect, while giving coworkers time to adjust their schedules. And pretty soon you'll be sipping drinks on the beach, guilt-free.

5. When You Are Super Sick

Whatever you do, don't let a coworker or boss bully you into coming to work sick. Not only does it mean infecting everyone in the office, but you'll also be slowing down your recovery time by not getting rest. Stand up for your sick self, and stay in bed.

6. When You Feel Overwhelmed

There's absolutely nothing wrong with asking for extra help at work, or telling your boss you need more time. In fact, it's the responsible thing to do if you expect to get work done in a timely fashion. So send out an email, or sit your boss down, and admit to feeling overwhelmed. "Your manager can't help you if she doesn't realize that there's a problem," said Alison Green on More than likely, she'll be able to work something out.

7. You Were Passed Up For A Promotion

Remember what I said about promoting yourself? Well, it doesn't always work. If you think you were unfairly passed over, go have a chat with your boss to figure out why. "Whatever their reason, try not to take it personally and think critically about it," said Alan Henry on Maybe someone else had seniority, or slightly more experience. It definitely helps to know, instead of sitting at your desk in silent resentment.

8. When Your Paycheck Isn't Right

This one seems obvious, and yet so many of us would totally be too afraid to say anything. Don't let this be you. If you were shortchanged (no pun intended), make sure you say something.

9. When Your Coworkers Are Rude

You don't have to be BFFs with your coworkers (although, in a perfect world, that would be the case). You do, however, have to get along with each other — or at least be civil. When that's not the case, and you find yourself being gossiped about, or undermined, it's necessary to stick up for your rights. "It may not seem like a big deal, but over time, we teach people how to treat us," said Margie Warrell on Forbes. Your coworkers won't necessarily be magically nice, but not tolerating their rudeness can help.

10. When You Aren't Being Trusted With More Work

Believe it or not, it is possible to not have enough to do at work. When that happens, it makes for a super boring day. Plus, it's often a sign that your boss doesn't trust you to do more. (Not good.) If you feel that's the case, sit her down to chat about why. And be ready to suggest new ways you can contribute.

11. Whenever You Don't Feel Comfortable

Maybe a coworker said something inappropriate, or you don't feel safe working late all by yourself. Whatever the case may be, say something. There is always something that can be done.

Because, like it or not, your job can present you with one, or even all, of the above situations. If you find yourself feeling overworked, stressed out, or comfortable, stand up for yourself. You'll be glad you did.

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