Using your voice to advocate for yourself.
Over the years, there has been substantial talk of self-advocacy. It’s often brought up in a variety of situations, healthcare, education, and of course on the job. Self-advocacy is defined as the ability to communicate your needs clearly. It may seem simple, but some people seem to struggle with it for a variety of reasons. Some times, people may be hesitant to self advocate because of biased or bigoted practices and systems that may disproportionately affect certain demographics. The workplace is a good example of an environment where people may struggle with self-advocacy. Some people may fear retaliation, struggle with imposter syndrome or, they just may not know how to present their needs, wants or rights to those in position to make sure those needs are met.
Don’t fret, though. You are not alone. Here are three tips to help you better use your voice to self-advocate at your place of employment.
- Keep a running log of your accomplishments or achievements in your position. This can include artifacts such as positive feedback from team members or superiors, data that shows how much work you have completed in a specific time period, or evaluations. If someone sends you an email complimenting you on a job well done, save it and use it for your self-advocacy.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses, and practice articulating them in a clear, concise way. Part of being confident and using your voice is speaking up for others, but it’s hard to do that if you can’t speak up for yourself. Make a list of the skills and qualities in which you excel and role play explaining them with a trusted friend or colleague. If you do this enough, you will feel more comfortable doing it for the purpose of applying for a promotion or new job.
- One final tip is to expand your network. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our work to-do lists and trying to stay out of office politics, that we forget how important it is to have support from our colleagues. Take the time to make sure you are making positive connections with your peers, not just in hopes that they may be able to make recommendations for you later on, but because our coworkers are some of the greatest resources we have in the office. They can provide support and advice that might extend beyond the specifics of our roles and expertise and into the social nuances that we might need to know before pursuing any new opportunities. All office politics aren’t bad, so don’t be afraid to get to know your coworkers.
Using your voice to advocate for yourself is a skill. Most people aren’t born with it, but it can be cultivated and nurtured throughout your life. The more you do it, the better you’ll get,and the results will begin to show up in multiple facets of your life. So get to it. Nobody’s going to have your back like you!