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Self-advocacy at work: 7 Tips to help you become a better self-advocate

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Standing up for yourself can be challenging. Anxiety, fear of conflicts, or believing you’re not good enough can all be obstacles to self-advocacy.

However, standing up for yourself and effectively communicating your needs and rights is essential for a healthy and positive work environment

To help you become a better self-advocate, in this post, we’ll cover the following:

  • What self-advocacy at work means,
  • The 3 elements of self-advocacy,
  • Examples of self-advocacy at work,
  • Why it’s important to advocate for yourself, and
  • Tips for advocating for yourself.

What does it mean to advocate for yourself at work?

You need self-advocacy skills in any situation where it’s essential to stand up for yourself. Someone who is a good self-advocate is able to communicate their needs and rights effectively. 

Self-advocacy is important for:

  • Healthy work relationships,
  • A successful career, and
  • Overall satisfaction with your work.

Being able to advocate for yourself is a skill needed in many situations. Here are some examples of self-advocacy at work:

  • Asking for a raise or advanced payment,
  • Advocating for yourself when you’re a victim of workplace bullying,
  • Advocating for yourself when you have a disability. 

3 Elements of self-advocacy

Self-advocacy has 3 main elements:

  1. Understanding your needs — you need to listen to yourself and be aware of your needs.
  2. Having a support system — knowing who you can ask for help.
  3. Communicating your needs — being able to clearly communicate what you need.

Why is it important to advocate for yourself at work?

Self-advocacy is an integral part of a healthy work environment. Advocating for yourself doesn’t mean you are selfish or arrogant — you just know what you need and are not afraid to express it. 

Let’s look at the main benefits of self-advocacy in the workplace.

Benefit #1: Self-advocacy helps you communicate your needs

The most apparent benefit of self-advocacy is being able to communicate your needs. 

Openly communicating what you need is necessary for effective collaboration

It also decreases the risk of burnout. 

Benefit #2: Self-advocacy helps to create a healthy work environment

According to Dr. Carolina Estevez, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, advocating for yourself helps to create a healthy work environment:

Dr. Carolina Estevez, Psy.D

“Self-advocacy can help ensure that you get the support and resources you need to be successful in your job, and it can help to create an atmosphere of fairness and respect in the workplace.
It also helps build up your confidence and makes you feel more secure in your job.
When you advocate for yourself, you show that you recognize the importance of actively creating a healthy and productive work environment.”

Furthermore, by being open and honest about our needs, we are showing others that we trust and value them, which builds mutually respectful relationships.

Benefit #3: Self-advocacy helps your career prospects

According to a survey about professional development, around 60% of employees would quit their job if they knew there was no space for development. However, if you feel stuck at your job, self-advocacy may be the solution.

By advocating for yourself, you demonstrate dedication and care for your professional development, which can open doors for new opportunities.

Benefit #4: Self-advocacy helps you help others

Finally, advocating for yourself will benefit your team by:

  • Demonstrating to others what you bring to the table and proving your place in the organization,
  • Showing your coworkers they can count on your help, and
  • Leading by example and inspiring others to stand up for themselves too.

Tips for advocating for yourself at work

Let’s now look at how you can become a better self-advocate and stand up for yourself in the workplace.

Tip #1: Become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses

Firstly, you must examine your strengths and weaknesses to know what needs improvement. 

Ask yourself what you’re good at and what you can work more on. With the help of a bit of introspection, you can answer these questions. 

Tip #2: Know your rights

Familiarize yourself with your rights as well. 

Learn more about the rules and regulations of your company and your legal rights in general to be aware of what you’re entitled to. When you’re well-informed, you’ll be more confident in fighting for your rights. 

Tip #3: Ask for help

A meaningful way to advocate for yourself is to ask for help. 

That is what Kamila Wolyniec, a Career Coach for Quiet Achievers, also believes:

Kamila Wolyniec

“When you recognize that you haven’t got all the resources you need to deal with the situation, whatever that may be, you shouldn’t refrain from asking for help. Although society usually considers it a weakness, to me, it’s a sign of strength.
By asking for help, you communicate to others that you’re aware of what you want, and you’re asking them to support you.
It also shows vulnerability and humility, and I think it takes a lot of courage to do that.“

Being vulnerable and asking for help will build relationships with your team members, who can then support you and advocate for you when needed.

Tip #4: Know your worth

Before you stand up for yourself, you need to know your worth. 

Think about your value as a team member and what you bring to the table. Assess your skills, experience, and personal qualities to be able to back up your interests.

Tip #5: Communicate directly, but respectfully

When you’ve gathered all the necessary information, directly communicating your needs is next.

Ask for what you need clearly and confidently. Direct communication will show that you’re sure of what you’re asking for and that you know you deserve it. 

However, make sure you always maintain a professional and respectful tone.

Tip #6: Show off your achievements

Your manager probably has a lot on their plate, and they won’t always be able to provide recognition

Therefore, making your manager and the rest of the team aware of your accomplishments should be something you practice. You should flaunt your achievements to make people aware of the efforts you put in.

Tip #7: Practice assertiveness

You need to be assertive when you’re advocating for yourself. Here’s how you can practice assertiveness in the words of Crystal Jackson, a Writer with an MA in Psychology: 

Crystal Jackson

“One way to practice assertiveness is to set specific, measurable, and achievable goals. This can be as simple as setting a goal to speak up in a meeting or to ask for a raise. By setting specific and achievable goals, you can begin to build the confidence and skills necessary to advocate for yourself in the workplace.”

Further reading

This is just a summary of an article previously published on the Pumble blog.

To learn more about self-advocacy, we recommend reading the full article: