Finding Your Voice: Advocating and Negotiating for Yourself as a Woman in the Workplace

Certainly one of my favourite friends is a lady who has, for the lifetime of her profession, been on the CEO trajectory. She is assured, good, caring and amazingly pushed. Regardless of the setbacks life has thrown her method, she has achieved unimaginable success and earned respect and admiration from everybody she’s labored with. 

She referred to as me one afternoon to share excellent news: the trail to turning into CEO was opening up in entrance of her. She knew that quickly, she’d be on the brief record for probably the most highly effective place on the firm. It was the second she had been working towards her complete life. She had a vital assembly developing the place she would have the chance to place her hat within the ring.

To my shock, I heard hesitation in her voice. After I requested her what was happening, she mentioned merely, “I don’t know, Candace. I’m undecided that I’m prepared for this!” 

I couldn’t consider it. If there was one particular person on the earth who was prepared for development, it was her. However in that second, she was crippled with self-doubt. Her boss was contemplating her for the function, but she questioned if, perhaps, she would fail—then what would develop into of her? Perhaps there have been different folks extra certified, who had achieved extra to place themselves to be subsequent in line for CEO. 

I requested her what the job entailed. If she had been anticipated to do the listed duties as a part of her present function, might she do them? Her reply was sure to every query. “You’re prepared,” I challenged her, reminding her that not solely was she certified to be CEO—if she had been a person, analysis confirmed she possible wouldn’t be questioning her “readiness” for the job. After this, I took a second to replicate on what was actually happening on this state of affairs.

It is very important set ourselves up for fulfillment financially, which we talked about in chapter 1. It is very important work laborious, which we talked about in chapter 2. And it’s supremely essential that, whereas we do these issues, we regularly advocate for ourselves, which we are going to talk about on this chapter. Self-advocacy is essential not only for day-to-day successes, however for paving the trail we see ourselves on in future months and years.

If talking up or talking out is new or difficult for you, I encourage you to attempt. Even child steps are a path ahead. And if you end up in a spot the place your voice can’t be heard, take into account whether or not you might be in the perfect place for you—and do one thing about it. 

Discover Your Voice

In my TEDx Speak, I counsel girls to talk up for themselves and by no means select to silence themselves. Analysis exhibits us that typically, girls have a tougher time talking up for ourselves than males. Ladies with households particularly usually tend to be danger averse and to make use of intentional invisibility as a method for navigating office obstacles. It’s a mix of some issues, however I feel it may be precisely summed up like this: As a society, girls who’re compliant are considered extra positively than girls who aren’t compliant. Ladies are taught at a younger age, by way of both phrases or instance, that by talking up for themselves they’re being “tough.” Due to this fact, we study to not converse up except we’re sure we’re proper and/or protected. 

Get Your Career in Shape

who’s not doing all that second-guessing? Your male counterparts. 

Which signifies that irrespective of how a lot saving you’re doing and the way a lot laborious work you’re placing in, in the event you’re not advocating for your self and your future, you might be reducing your capability to attain the success you deserve.

To make certain, girls have gotten higher at this, particularly in latest historical past. I’d by no means low cost all of the progress we now have made. However we now have a methods to go, and it begins with you discovering your voice, in large and small methods, on a constant foundation. 

A number of the finest recommendation ever given to me got here early in my profession, after I left a gathering stuffed with fundamental questions I hadn’t requested for worry of wanting silly in entrance of my new colleagues. I spoke to a mentor about how I used to be feeling, and his phrases of knowledge have remained with me ever since.

“Candace, if one thing isn’t clear to you in a gathering, chances are high that at the least one or two different folks within the room have the identical query you do. And even when they don’t, slightly repetition of key ideas or concepts by no means damage anybody. Communicate up!”

I’m not suggesting you converse up only for the sake of speaking throughout each assembly. However while you consider you might have invaluable data to share, have a query to pose or hear one thing that’s unclear to you, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification, irrespective of who’s main the assembly or who would possibly hear your query.

You is perhaps considering that this sounds good in principle, however in observe could be very intimidating. You’re proper! In the event you’re the kind of one that has by no means spoken up for herself, it’s scary to assume that you just would possibly want to begin, and at first issues could be tough. Nonetheless, realizing completely different methods for advocacy and self-efficacy signifies that you should have a greater shot at overcoming gender stereotypes and expectations.

Creating an Advocacy Community 

Advocacy work doesn’t start and finish along with your private expertise. When you get comfy talking up for your self when you might have an thought you need to share or an idea you need clarified, then we get to the great things: constructing a community of advocates round you. 

Once more, this isn’t work that may occur in a single day. It’ll occur by way of cautious planning and prioritization, in addition to trial and error. It’ll occur by way of fast chats in passing within the hallway, in addition to essential conversations that contain giving and receiving tough suggestions. 

Placing your self on the market on this method can really feel large and scary in the event you aren’t used to asking questions and making daring statements. And right here’s why it helps: the subsequent time a promotion or enterprise alternative that you’d be proper for comes alongside, you should have a group of individuals from all completely different sides of the group who know not solely your work ethic, however what your targets are. You received’t have to fret about being on the proper assembly and saying the best factor on the proper time. You’ll have a group of individuals with whom you might have cultivated significant relationships who will converse up for you.

And also you, in flip, will do the identical factor for them. Networks aren’t created for only one particular person’s development. Constructing a mutually useful advocacy community is a profitable technique throughout the board. Consider it as constructing bridges along with your friends that you may depend on for the lifetime of your profession.

Efficient Negotiation

Whereas all this would possibly sound doable in principle, there is no such thing as a doubt that in observe studying to seek out and persistently use your voice is usually a problem. Inspiration, nonetheless, can come from anyplace. Early in my profession, whereas studying an in-flight journal seminar ad on negotiation, I learn a quote by negotiation knowledgeable Dr. Chester Karris: “In enterprise as in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”

The artwork of negotiation is a robust ability to grasp in your profession.

So, the place do you start to place your self-efficacy into observe while you’re in a difficult spot?

Regardless of the state of affairs, begin with itemizing your nonnegotiables. Do your homework and be clear concerning the stuff you merely can’t and won’t bend on. Lead with optimistic components of your collaboration and discover the methods wherein you and the particular person you’re in battle with are in sync. Body your ask so it’s not such a heavy raise for the particular person you’re speaking to. When unsure, take a look at the myriad of articles revealed on the net that lay out all of the completely different negotiation techniques you possibly can attempt.

The purpose of advocating for your self isn’t to win each argument or get your method on a regular basis. It additionally isn’t nearly getting folks to love you or agree with you.

Self-advocacy is about taking management of your profession with intention and main with integrity. That is essential when occasions are good, nevertheless it’s particularly essential when occasions are laborious.

Reproduced by permission from Candace Steele Flippin, Get Your Profession in SHAPE: A 5-Step Information to Obtain the Success You Want, Need, and Deserve (Minneapolis, MN: Sensible Ink, 2022), Chapter 3. © 2022 by Candace Steele Flippin.Photograph by @madelinerosephoto/Twenty20

Candace Flippin

Dr. Candace Steele Flippin is a world communications knowledgeable, multigenerational office scholar, TEDx speaker, and bestselling creator. In her downtime, she collects works from rising visible artists and enjoys touring together with her household. For extra office assets, go to


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