Discover Your Voice: How Workplace Self-Advocacy Can Transform Your Career

Posted on April 22, 2024 by Casey Johnson, MSW, LCSW

Updated April 22, 2024

Succeeding at work means more than having the right skills and knowledge; it's also about actively participating to ensure your interests areFemale Worker Talking to Coworker Green Brushstroke considered. Whether that includes getting a spot on a project you are passionate about, paving your way to a promotion or addressingFemale Worker Talking to Coworker Green Brushstroke issues with a colleague. Self-advocacy in the workplace is crucial for expressing your needs, desires and boundaries, ensuring that your voice is heard and respected. This is particularly important in contexts where you might feel overlooked or undervalued. By being mindful of varying strategies and tools to advocate for yourself in the workplace, you can feel more professionally fulfilled.

Understanding Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy involves understanding your needs and being able to effectively communicate them in the workplace. It’s about negotiating for what you need or desire—whether it’s more support, resources or recognition—in a way that is respectful and assertive. This skill is essential for personal growth, career development and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Practical Steps to Advocating for Yourself
  • Identify Your Needs: Take the time to reflect on what you need from your job that you’re presently not receiving. This could be anything from a more flexible schedule to opportunities for professional development.
  • Develop a Plan: Once you know what you need, think about the steps you can take to communicate these needs. This might involve setting up a meeting with your supervisor, writing down your talking points or discussing your strategy with a trusted colleague.
  • Use Assertive Communication: It is important to communicate your needs clearly and confidently. Practice stating your needs directly, using "I" statements to express how certain changes could benefit both you and the organization.
  • Seek Support: Do not hesitate to reach out for support. Discussing your plans with a mentor, colleague or coach can provide valuable feedback and bolster your confidence.
  • Follow Up: It’s important to be proactive and follow up on your requests. This could entail touching base with your supervisor post-meeting or keeping a record of any agreements reached.
Leveraging EAP for Self-Advocacy

As a member of VITAL WorkLife’s EAP, there are a wealth of resources at your disposal to aid you in your self-advocacy journey:

  • Counseling: Counseling through VITAL WorkLife can help you navigate feelings of anxiety or low confidence that might hinder your ability to advocate for yourself. A counselor can provide strategies to bolster your self-esteem and assertiveness.
  • Coaching Sessions: Your coaching resource can offer practical advice on communication strategies, helping you to articulate your needs effectively and professionally. Coaches can role-play scenarios with you, preparing you for real-life conversations.
  • Member Website: Your member website includes resources, such as articles and seminars on career development, communication and leadership skills, to equip you with the necessary tools for success in navigating challenging conversations.

Self-advocacy is a critical skill in today's workplace, essential for ensuring your needs and aspirations are recognized and met. By leveraging the support and resources available through VITAL WorkLife, you can strengthen your ability to advocate for yourself effectively. Remember, self-advocacy is not just about asking for what you want; it's about recognizing your value and ensuring that your work environment supports your growth and well-being.

We Can Help

Through your VITAL WorkLife EAP, you have access to counseling, coaching and various well-being resources designed to support you in navigating workplace challenges while advocating for yourself. VITAL WorkLife is also here to support you in all dimensions of well-being—including physical, relational, emotional, professional, meaning & purpose, legal and financial. For counseling, coaching or other resources contact us at 800.383.1908, through the VITAL WorkLife App or online.

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