Tuesday’s Tips: You Are Your Own Best Advocate

You Are Your Own Best Advocate

Ever feel like you’re being talked down to at work? Ever feel like you’re being treated as if you’re clueless and not a thing in the world you say, matters? Do you think that no matter what, you can’t stand up for what you believe in?

Something I’ve learned over the years is – you are your own best advocate. 

You must speak up for yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to be rude or abrasive, but it does mean you need to gather the courage and stand your ground. Be confident in what you’re saying and in yourself.

Now, let’s be clear, standing your ground also doesn’t mean being unwilling to reason or compromise. Instead, it means hearing other people out, and then providing your thoughts. Standing your ground doesn’t mean gossiping at the coffee pot (or perhaps via Slack these days), but more less, addressing the issue(s) head on.

In my experience, I have come to learn that letting tension fester and allowing issues to linger only creates more animosity. If you don’t address things head on, it usually results in a knock-down throw down argument where both you and the other individual are very unhappy and someone’s feelings gets hurt.

Whether you’re being micromanaged, treated unfairly, or overworked, the key here is to always remain professional. Forbes say it best when they advise individuals to “remain confident and calm, and to always choose their words wisely.”

1. Don’t Get Angry

I’ll be real honest – sometimes I have an attitude and I don’t even realize it. My mom, my fiancé, my business partner, they all check me on it sometimes. But, over the years, I’ve learned to reel that in a bit and pay more attention to how I respond in the moment.

I bring this point up because it’s important. Oftentimes our initial reaction sets the tone for the entire conversation. Think about it this way – if someone approached you mad as all get out, wouldn’t you consider yourself likely to fire back a not so friendly response or perhaps even just ignore them? Don’t be ashamed to admit yes – most people are.

Having said that, it’s important that you approach the conversation in a polite manner. If you’re upset now, take a minute to cool off and then address it. But, whatever you do, don’t go in guns blazing – that won’t get anyone anywhere.

2. Trust Your Instincts

You’ve been hired to do your job for a reason. Whether it be that you’re a financial analyst and you’re brilliant with spreadsheets and analyzing financial risks, or perhaps you’re a communications professional who specializes in media bookings – remember that you’ve been hired for your expertise.

Throughout my years in the industry, I’ve come to learn that my gut is almost always right. No, that doesn’t mean I have the answer to every question and every problem. Instead, that means when my gut has a very strong feeling about something – whether it be how to respond to a media inquiry or if and when we should issue a statement on something – my gut is usually right. Yours is, too, and you must learn to trust it.

Again, I want to reiterate that this doesn’t mean you should turn into the cocky know it all in the room who doesn’t listen to anyone else. Instead, what I’m saying is, learn to differentiate something you “think” from something you have a very strong “gut feeling” for. There’s a big difference and the more you pay attention to it, the more you’ll understand what I mean.

3. Be Assertive and Know When To Say “No”

There is nothing wrong with being assertive and saying “no.” Sure, in today’s politically correct society, some would say that being assertive and saying “no” is rude, but I disagree.

Of course, if you’re being rude in your approach, that’s one thing. However, being straight-forward and strong on a particular topic – there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Being poised and confident in what you’re saying will convey a message that you mean business and you’re not backing down just because they have a differing opinion.

4. Be Prepared

Be ready to back up your position. Don’t just have “thoughts” on something – have evidence.

The best piece of advise I can give you here is – data, data, data. Data (I said it again) tells a story. If you’ve done a good job with earned media, come with the data to back up those claims. Prove that your AVE has improved or that the total number of placements has continued to climb.

Even more so, know what you’re going to say. Don’t walk in with a blank stare and think “oh gosh, I forgot what I’m going to say.” Instead, perhaps write down what your argument is and why you feel this way. This will help you sound even more confident and will further suggest you’re an expert on this topic.

5. Be Willing

Lastly, we don’t know everything – so be willing to listen and compromise. If you go in, guns blazing, unwilling to compromise, and expecting the worst outcome – you’re going to get that every single time.

Instead, be willing to listen to the other persons thoughts and try your best to understand why they believe the things they do, or act the way they act. Ultimately, they, too, believe they’re doing what they believe is best and likely have the same goal as you – success.

In my experience, particularly over the last few years, the more I’ve tried to find common ground, or some point of similarity, the more successful I’ve been. 9 times out 10, every time I’ve gone in hot and thought it was my way or the highway – I’ve lost. Compromise and being willing to listen gets you so much further than not.

Go Get ‘Em!

Having said all this, always remember that you are a valuable member of the team – and you do matter. Your thoughts matters, your work matters, and your presence matters. Take these 5 steps above and put them into motion – and I’ll bet you in no time, you’ll start to see the tides turn.

Go get ’em!