On the first day of one of my first internships, I got locked in a parking garage stairwell because I was afraid to ask someone for directions on how to get to a meeting. Asking for directions is one of those things you should never be afraid to do at work. Perhaps to you that seems to go without saying, but there are ways in which everyone can be a little more fearless at work.
(Note: I made it out of the parking garage eventually. In hindsight, asking how to get to a meeting is significantly less embarrassing than, say, telling people you’re late to a meeting because you got stuck in the parking garage stairwell.)
Having workplace worries is normal. So normal, in fact, that nearly half of all workers experience workplace stress. While it may be “normal” in the “pretty much every experiences it” way, workplace stress is becoming an unhealthy norm. The World Health Organization called stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century,” estimating it costs businesses in the US up to $300 billion a year. So, the seemingly little stresses you’re worried to address may be costing you more than you realize.
Bustle reached out to a few career experts and got their advice on what you shouldn’t be worried to do at work. Aside from asking for directions so you don't get stuck in a stairwell and pooping at work, there are plenty of things you shouldn't stress about doing in the office. So, if being a badass girl boss is high on your priority list, here are a few tips from career experts on how to be a little more fearless in the workplace.
1. Ask Questions
It sounds simple, but ego and fear of looking incompetent can get in the way of something as seemingly easy as asking a question. (See: me getting locked in a parking garage stairwell.) Whether it’s to ask for more training, get clarification on a project, or voice concern about workplace environment, asking someone is the smart way to go. Brad Stultz, Human Resources director at Totally Promotional, tells Bustle, “Oftentimes, there can be a negative mindset toward ‘whistleblowers,’ but all companies should strive to create fundamentally safe workplaces for their employees. Concerned employees who are willing to address issues can be a true asset to their management teams.”
2. Make People Own Up To Their Actions
If your boss is treating you unfairly or a coworker offhandedly dismisses your ideas, ask them about it. “Make them see what they are doing and own it,” says Laura MacLeod, social worker and creator of the From the Inside Out Project. Addressing subtle disrespect is both empowering and establishes how you expect to be treated, especially when you address it in a respectful way. MacLeod says people will take notice that you’ve “acknowledged inappropriate behavior without being snide, angry, or insubordinate.”
3. Take Credit for Your Hard Work
Humility is healthy, but it shouldn’t hinder being acknowledged for hard work. Sharon Kaslassi, account executive of Blonde2.0 tells Bustle, “Always take credit for the amazing work you did. Did you work your ass off on that project with positive results? Then, brag about it!” If you’re someone that shies away from attention, get comfortable talking about yourself and don’t let awesome work go unnoticed.
4. Speak Up
Whether it’s to share an idea or assert an opinion, Jennifer Yeko, founder of Ninja Recruiting, says people shouldn't be afraid to use their voice at work. She tells Bustle, "Ask for a raise/promotion if you've been there for more than one year and have had very positive performance reviews. Take on more responsibilities and projects!" You should always feel empowered to speak up and ask for what you want.
5. Acknowledge When Something Feels Off
Life coach Erica McCurdy says listening to yourself is key. She tells Bustle, "Allow your inner voice to speak to you at least as loudly as the voices of those around you. When something feels 'off' at work, trust your instincts. You may not immediately recognize the cause of your discomfort, but trust yourself enough to know when a situation warrants further investigation and be courageous enough to stand firm when pressed to take actions that are uncomfortable.”
6. Send a Follow Up Email When You Don't Hear Back
Didn't get a response to your question but worried about sending too many emails? Jeff Hittner, an entrepreneurial advisor and the founder of Your Project X, says not to be. He tells Bustle, “Good leaders are just busy, they’re not offended. A reminder doesn’t bother them, it usually gets them to give you the feedback you need. The people that are persistent are the ones that tend to get more feedback and therefore more ideas and better results.”