Do you ever feel like you are being taken advantage of at work? Do you ever feel like you can’t stand up for what you think or believe at work? One thing that I have learned in my job is that you have to speak up for what you think because if you don’t, it usually means more time and work. Even if no one listens to what I have to say, at least I have said what I think and believe. I remember how hard it was to stand up for myself when I first started my job. It was terribly difficult. Now that I have been with my company for 6 years, people expect me now to say what I believe. And they actually value and listen to what I have to say, but it isn’t always easy. I disagree with people. I tell them that they are not right. That is terribly hard but sometimes that is just part of your job and what you are hired to do. If you always agree with other people, you will not be valuable to your organization for being able to think on your own and share your great ideas.
Here is what Forbes has to say about standing up for yourself at work:
Knowing how to stand up for yourself at work is an essential skill. Whether you’re being overworked, treated unfairly or micromanaged, the way to successfully stick up for yourself is to remain professional. Lay out your argument in a confident yet calm manner, and choose your words wisely.”
So, if you feel like you are being pushed around and into doing things that you don’t want to do or that you believe aren’t the right things you SHOULD be doing, here are my five tips to help you stand up for yourself at work today:
- Don’t Get Angry. I wish I could say that I always followed this tip. Sometimes, it is hard for me to remain calm and relaxed when someone is trying to convince me of something that I know is wrong. You can defend your arguments WAY easier if you don’t get mad. Also when you get mad, the other person will get mad right back at you and effective communication is out the window! So take a deep breath, and try your absolute best to remain calm and relaxed and not angry.
- Be Prepared. If you are about to defend what you believe in, make sure you have a few notes written down or that you have practiced in your head what you are going to say. You don’t want to finally say something and then have it totally not make sense when it comes out of your mouth. Think about how you could do your work more efficiently and better. Write it down and tell your boss what you think. Think about what types of great opportunities you really want at your company. Write them down and tell your boss where you want to go next.
- Be Firm. If you are going to be convincing, you can’t back down. Even if no one believes what you have to say and they think you are stupid, stick to what you think. There are certain types of people in this world that always have to be right and will try to convince everyone to agree with them. They will not like you for arguing with them and showing them another side. But who cares what they think. You have demonstrated a very valuable characteristic by speaking up. You are now even more valuable to your team because you have a mind of your own and you use it instead of just going along with what’s not working. Don’t give in. A situation like this happened to me last week. I didn’t give in and 15 minutes later, the person I was discussing my view with thought about it some more and finally said that he agreed with me and that I was right. Glad I didn’t back down!
- Trust Your Instincts. If something just doesn’t feel right, act on it. Say what you think. I know I often have this pit in my stomach when someone says something that I don’t believe in. If it is a client or boss, I don’t want to interrupt because that is impolite. But, if you trust your instincts, maybe you can speak up and tell them what you think after the meeting when it is just one on one. You don’t want to make them look dumb, but you do want to get your ideas on the table and let everyone you work with know that you want to contribute and make the team better. So trust your instincts. If you know that you have to say something but don’t feel comfortable in a big meeting, find another time.
- Be Assertive and Learn to Say No. In my job, I have to say no to some things or I would be working 24/7. There is nothing wrong with saying no. Being assertive isn’t about being rude or pushy, you can definitely be assertive and classy at the same time. Assertiveness is being straight-forward and strong without harming your reputation in the office. Being poised and self-confident will let the person you are talking to know that you mean business and you aren’t backing down.
Remember that you are a valuable member of your organization and your thoughts and feelings are important to the team, even if you don’t feel like it. As you start practicing standing up for yourself, the easier it will become!