Although people tend to avoid conflict, there will always be a time in your life when you feel wronged by the decisions or opinions of others around you. This can happen in the workplace, at school (when a teacher gives an unjustified lower grade), and even in personal relationships.
You naturally expect other people to advocate for you in these moments rather than do it for yourself. But when that does not happen, you only have two options: accept it silently or react through self-advocating.
It may seem challenging at first, but starting to advocate for yourself prevents you from accepting injustice or, worse, storming out of the office, classroom, or home and taking out your frustrations on other people.
Here’s what you need to know to adopt the practice of self-advocacy.
Taking a Stand
Self-advocacy is not just about saying good things about yourself. Advocating for yourself means taking the stand and teaching other people how they should treat you.
You must feel free to stand up for yourself for that to happen.
One of the essential tips to do so is to think before you act. As obvious as it may seem, most people can’t keep a cool head in the face of an episode where they feel they’ve been wronged. Instead of defending themselves, they will dump it all over other coworkers or family members.
It’s also important to be yourself. When you feel ignored or under-appreciated, your self-esteem takes the first hit, and you may think you are not good enough for that job, classroom, or relationship.
Never let pessimism take over: taking a stand starts with you reflecting on your achievements to regain your confidence.
With a cool head and self-esteem in order, it’s time to advocate for yourself. But how do you do it without stuttering, and especially without sounding too snobbish or arrogant?
Here are some ways to be a better personal advocate:
Speak Up More
Speaking up can be hard, especially in front of your boss or a very demanding teacher. But you must be prepared to do so every time you disagree with something you know is wrong. For example, when a work decision was made by someone based on information that you know is incomplete. Or, at school, when you know you delivered better homework than the classmate who got a higher grade.
Address Your Comments to the Right Person
There’s no use complaining to coworkers for not being promoted or taking out on your kids an argument you had with your partner. Identify the right person for self-advocating.
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When preparing your answer, know the rules or laws of society and how to use them to your advantage. Avoid simply protesting and saying you feel wronged. Choose some reasons you like your company/course/relationship and mention them as the biggest reason you feel things need to change.
If you are advocating for yourself at the company where you work, for example, mention how you like working there and how you feel you could contribute more to the growth of the business.
Don’t Underestimate Yourself
The most important thing in self-advocating is not to belittle or underestimate yourself. Recognize your past experiences and your personal needs to be successful and not settle for less. So if you feel that your manifestation did not provoke the desired reaction, take it up again shortly with a new strategy. Don’t give up!
Don’t Wait For Others
Self-advocating can be really scary, which is why we all tend to expect someone else – like a coworker or family member – to stand up for us first. But sometimes, that doesn’t happen, and you need to learn to speak for yourself.
The first step is the most difficult. But when you stop dodging and delaying and discussing what you think is wrong, you end up creating a relationship of collaboration with your superiors, colleagues, and family.
The important thing is that you remember how experienced you are and how hard you worked to get there. Use all this the next time you have to advocate for yourself.