Idaho, Iowa, Des Moines
June 9, 2022

What You Need to Know About How to Advocate For Yourself at Work

Advocating for yourself at work can be difficult. If you struggle with anxiety you might have a difficult time with self-advocacy. It can feel vulnerable to put yourself out there and express what you need, especially if you’re talking to your superiors.

It’s hard for anyone to learn how to advocate for themselves at work. There are ways to do it that aren’t scary, though. At some point, you need to cut through the bureaucratic work bullshit and learn how to speak up for yourself. Just because things are a certain way doesn’t mean they should be. If you’re experiencing stress, overwhelm, and burnout, it’s time to practice self-advocacy.

If anxiety starts to take over when it’s time to advocate for yourself at work, then you need to find some ways to manage the anxiety you feel about speaking up for yourself. Everyone struggles with this from time to time. If you haven’t ever had to speak up at work before, or allowed yourself to, it can be hard. It’s not selfish to ask for what you need. It’s also best practice to speak up when you need extra time or help from your coworkers or supervisor.

advocating for yourself at work

Advocating For Yourself at Work

When things get super stressful at your job, speak up! Advocating for yourself at work is important. It helps protect your mental health and also gives you the resources you need.

Most workplaces have a lot of in-office politics. This can be hard to navigate, especially if you live with anxiety. Many jobs don’t consider the mental health of the employees. If you have a job like that, consider speaking up about what you need. And maybe stay out of office gossip. 

There are always certain considerations that be accommodated at work. If you have ADHD, for example, you might need extra time to get work done. If you feel comfortable, you can ask for a deadline extension. If that’s not an option, ask your supervisor to give you projects earlier than they normally would so that you have enough time to complete your work.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your coworkers as well as your supervisor. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute. If someone on your team was struggling, you’d want to help them. The same goes for you! Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to have coworkers who can help you with things you’re struggling with. If you are, let them help you. Everyone needs help sometimes. If you’re in over your head at work and your coworkers are able and willing to help, go ahead and let them.

Ways to Advocate For Yourself

Self-advocacy is informed by a few things:

  • Creating healthy boundaries and realistic expectations
  • Helping others understand your needs
  • Asking for the support you need to be effective at your job

There are a few ways to advocate for yourself. At its core, self-advocacy is teaching others how to help you and meet your requirements. It’s ok if you’re not someone who’s outspoken. You can still advocate for yourself.

If you’re afraid of advocating for yourself at work, think about what it’s like without the help you need. You’re not being unreasonable by asking for support. Everyone is better off if you can do your job well.

One way to advocate for yourself is to talk to your supervisor about professional development. You can ask for more trainings, a professional development course, or more responsibility at the office. If the last one isn’t what you want, that’s ok. 

Maybe you need to lessen the scope of the work that you do to accommodate your mental health needs. Be honest and open with your supervisor, even if it’s a difficult conversation. If they’re a good boss, they’ll have your best interest at heart. They want you and your team to do well. They’ll likely be more willing to accommodate your specific needs to keep the machine well-oiled.

ways to advocate

Managing Anxiety When Learning How to Advocate For Yourself at Work

Learning how to advocate for yourself at work can be intimidating. It might cause you anxiety. If you’re already an anxious person, this could lead to overwhelm and burnout. If you like your job but you just need some extra support, practice self-advocacy at work. 

Anxiety is a bitch no matter where you are. It rears its ugly head at the worst possible moments. It can paralyze you. But it can also motivate you to make changes. If your anxiety is high at work, talk to your supervisor about how you work best and what is less anxiety-provoking. Maybe your role on the team shifts a bit to accommodate your needs. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

As a therapist who works with anxious millennials, I see firsthand the way that work affects my clients’ mental health. Work can create anxiety that wasn’t there before. It can also amplify the anxiety you already have. It might be beneficial if you’re someone with high anxiety and trouble with self-advocacy at work to go to therapy and process this with a trained professional.

Therapy Can Help You If You’re Struggling With Advocating For Yourself at Work

Not sure how to advocate for yourself at work? Feeling anxious and overwhelmed at the thought of speaking up for yourself? Consider therapy – I can help you work through your challenges and come up with goal-setting strategies to help you find ways to advocate for yourself.
During our work together, you’ll learn how to set realistic goals and see them through. We’ll come up with coping skills to deal with work-related self-advocacy and help you step confidently into the world knowing what you’re dealing with and how you can manage it.I’m ready if you are. Reach out today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Meet the author

Danielle Wayne

Danielle is an anxiety therapist. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.

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