Most people are not big fans of conflict. Honestly, it’s always easier to run away from your problems. Sometimes though, you don’t have a choice but to take the bull by the horns and let everyone know they need to be taking you seriously. But that requires you learning how to advocate for yourself properly. How can you be sure you’re not coming across as a nuisance?
It’s easy to be scared of stepping on people’s toes and remain quiet instead of straight-up asking for what you deserve. Let’s be honest, questions like “why should I hire you?” or “why do you think you deserve a raise?” are really nerve-wracking. Best case, you get what you want. Worst case, you could get fired or lose a job opportunity.
Here’s the thing though: there’s no single successful individual who’s gotten to where they are today without fighting for what they deserve. If you want to go places and succeed in life, you need to start taking a stand and advocating your self worth. If you can’t do it for yourself, you can’t go places. It’s as simple as that. Don’t let this happen to you! If you’re having difficulty getting people to take you seriously, then it’s time to learn how to advocate for yourself! Just follow these tips below:
When there’s money involved: know your worth
Work it like you know it. Via Giphy.
The first thing about advocating for yourself professionally is to do some self reflection in order to understand what it is exactly you're bringing to the table. What value do you or could you provide? Especially when you’re negotiating salary (whether it’s before you accept a job offer or during a job performance review period), it’s important that you go into those conversations with a logical argument as well as data to back it up. Know what the market rate is, your skill level, and how you will or already bolster business.
Be real with yourself when thinking about what you’re worth. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t expect C-suite treatment if you’re coming in for an entry-level job. The last thing we need is to give more ammo to people who call our generation spoiled and entitled.
When things aren’t going your way: know what you want and what you have to do to get there
Step 1: Order pizza. Step 2: Get pizza. Step 3: ??? Step 4: PROFIT. Via Giphy.
Maybe you’re worried that the job interview didn’t go well, or that your boss doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that you’re taking on a whole bunch of responsibilities since your coworker left. So what are you going to do about it? What’s your end goal? Whatever the case is, it’s likely that a longer-term strategy is needed so you’ll need to put your thinking cap on to plan out what you need to do to for the long haul. Usually, starting off with a good conversation (whether it’s with your boss, a very good friend who isn’t afraid to keep it real with you, or even a career coach) is enough to get the gears moving, but it’s up to you to continue that momentum! At the end of the day, even if your plan flops, you’ll be all the wiser afterwards.
When you need guidance: get advice from others
*internal screaming* Via Giphy .
Okay, so weighing out your options on how to handle a situation can sometimes be overwhelming. Find other people to talk to and get advice from them, particularly if they went through something similar. If you don’t have someone close that you can talk to, you can try taking your question online to websites like Quora or Reddit (you’d be surprised at the number of reasonable responses you’ll get!).
But remember that though your situation may not be unique in the broadest sense, it’s also not right to say that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution for every issue. There are different contexts for every situation, so keep that in mind if you feel conflicted about any advice that comes your way.
When you need strength in numbers: get others to vouch for you
It feels awesome when others recognize your strengths and advocate for you. Via Giphy .
You don’t have to be a one-person army fighting for your own cause! Always try to have other people backing you up. This will be super easy if you’ve taken the time to really build those relationships with people over time. Mentors, coworkers, bosses -- these folks can give the extra oomph that you needed to your case. The more people you can get on your side advocating for you, the more likely you’re going to get what you’re looking for! Whether it’s for a background check or a promotion, one good word in can strengthen your case and get you that much closer to your goal. Don’t forget to maintain your professional relationships, especially with people who you may not work with -- the occasional coffee meeting with your mentor or an ex-coworker can go a very long way for your career.
When you need others to understand: be clear, concise, and assertive
That soon-to-be #MotherOfDragons look is good on you. Via Giphy.
So you’re finally talking to the person who can do something about your situation. Whether that’s your interviewer, a new boss, or someone higher-up, here’s your chance. Keep the following tips in mind to make sure the conversation goes well:
- Know what you’re asking for. Make it easily known to the person you’re talking to what the next steps are. Otherwise you risk losing that well-earned momentum!
- Don’t ramble. Get to the point. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time here.
- Be assertive: Use declarative sentences, sit up straight, make eye contact (but not too much), and don’t take the first no as the final answer.
In addition to getting your point across, here are some bonus tips to make it really easy to convince the other person to start rooting for you:
- Stay positive. You don’t want to get defensive at the first sign of resistance. Keep your cool at all times so that you show how good you are at handling yourself when things get tough.
- Be flexible and willing to compromise. If you go in with an all or nothing attitude, you’re not going to go very far in life.
Learning how to advocate for yourself professionally is an important life skill that you need in order to get ahead in your career. It’s satisfying when you finally have that conversation with your boss and their reaction is nothing but positive. So go on with your bad self and ask for what you deserve!
It’s easy to get overlooked in the frenzy of startup life…and life in general. You have to be your #1 fan and ally. Because once you learn how to advocate for yourself in the workplace, there’s no stopping you.
If you haven’t yet, sign up for Planted and get connected to some of the fastest-growing startups. Don’t forget to use the tips we gave you in this article to think about negotiating your offers!
Gabriela Balicas is a recent graduate of Rice University. Once upon a time, she studied bioengineering, but when she realized she couldn’t 3D print herself a perfect boyfriend, she decided to study sports medicine instead. When she’s not flexing in the mirror, she enjoys scrolling through Drake memes and puppy videos on Instagram and running two successful blogs.
Featured image originally photographed by Aidan Meyer