Empowering Ways to Stand Up for Yourself at Work part 1
10:41:19 2024-02-22 349

1- Stay calm no matter what.

Reacting in anger may come off as aggressive rather than assertive. We know it's not always easy to keep your cool in a tough situation, but do your best. Pause, take a few deep breaths, and give yourself a moment to think before saying anything. If you clap back in the heat of the moment, you may end up looking like the perpetrator rather than the victim.

  • If you need to, walk away for a few minutes to collect yourself. Once you're calmer, go back and address the situation in a civil, professional way.
  • If you're feeling upset about something, ask yourself, "How important is this right now? Is it going to be important a week from now?" That can help you get perspective on the issue.
  • A calm, assertive response is a good thing! It’s a healthy way to let others know what you need and how you feel.


2- Disagree with colleagues respectfully.

 Speak up without tearing the other person down. If you disagree with a colleague’s opinion or solution to a problem, there's nothing wrong with speaking up about it. Try to avoid pitting your idea against theirs, though, which can seem aggressive. Instead, acknowledge the value of the other person’s idea before introducing your own.

  • For example, "Kathy’s proposal is solid and going that route could definitely benefit the company. I have another idea that may help us reach our quarterly goal even faster, though. What does everyone think about..."
  • If you don't like the way your manager assigns shifts, politely offer an alternate solution. For example, “Mr. Sellers, I really appreciate that you want our shift assignments to be fair. Your recent changes got me thinking and I'd love to get your perspective on this alternative...”


3- Address problems quickly.

A firm verbal response is the most effective approach. If a coworker says or does something inappropriate, don’t go back to your desk and stew all day. Call out their bad behavior right away to nip it in the bud. Remember to stay calm, but use firm, direct language to tell them the behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately.

  • For example, if someone calls you “Honey” in a meeting, immediately respond with, “I don’t like being called that. Please use my name to address me.”
  • If a coworker tries to take credit for your work in a project meeting, let them finish speaking. Then, politely note your own contributions. For example, “Bill did a great job organizing the reports. With his help, I was able to analyze and file them a lot faster than usual.”
  • If you don’t speak up quickly, your coworker (and anyone else who witnessed the act) will think it’s fine to treat you that way.


4- Talk to the person in private

They may not react well if you call them out in public. Aside from that, sometimes a public confrontation just doesn't feel quite right for that particular situation. For example, if a coworker talks over you in a meeting and they've never done that before, give them the benefit of the doubt! Wait until the meeting is over and talk to them about it privately.

  • You might say take them aside later and say, "I realize you probably didn't mean to do this, but when you interrupted me at the meeting earlier, I felt belittled and a bit embarrassed. Can you be more careful about that in the future?"


5- Use questions instead of accusations.

Questions feel less confrontational. If you need to have a tough conversation with a colleague, try to avoid opening with aggressive statements like “I don’t like the way you’re doing this” or “I think your approach is wrong.” The person will immediately feel judged and probably get defensive. You can still be assertive and speak your mind with questions. For example:

  • "Can you help me understand why Derrick got most of my assignments this week? Are you unhappy with the quality of my work?"
  • "Would you mind explaining the new schedule? I know you must have a good reason for making changes, but our lunch breaks are 15 minutes shorter now."
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