Career Advice

Four Ways Women Can Build Their Self Advocacy Skills

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By Candace Steele Flippin

One of the most challenging aspects of succeeding in the workplace, especially for women, is advocating for themselves throughout their careers.

Suppose you experienced environments where both men and women were on equal footing in the workplace. In that case, it could positively influence how you perceive your skills and self-worth. If you’ve seen women rewarded for taking risks and sharing their points of view, it frames your expectation for yourself. In these cases, you have an expectation that you can be successful when sharing your opinions or perspectives.

Unfortunately, women may not have been taught to speak up for themselves. Some women may not have experience managing difficult conversations in a professional setting. Or know how to hold others accountable.

So, what should you do to make sure you’ve seen, heard, and respected? Try these four actions to advocate for yourself in big and small and watch how these behaviors start to transform your career success.

1. Share your career ambitions.

Many women have learned to be protective over their career goals, keeping their goals secret to avoid ruffling feathers or coming across as overly ambitious.

Avoid this mistake by being open about your short-term and long-term goals, whether you’re aiming for a promotion, new responsibilities, or career growth. Your boss can’t provide projects and support to help you reach your goals if they don’t know what you want to achieve, so help them advocate for you by being open. If you aren’t comfortable sharing your trust with your manager, seek out a mentor or colleague to listen to your goals.

2. Stand up for yourself.

Unfortunately, workplace bullying is a real problem in many industries and workplaces across the globe, and you may have your own examples of being targeted or let down at work.

It is essential to have your own back and develop self-efficacy skills to serve you throughout your career. If you find yourself on the receiving end of disrespectful behavior or bullying, take steps to stand up for yourself. In some cases, it means setting boundaries for how you’ll let people speak to you. In others, it may mean taking the issue to your manager or your human resources department to receive more formal support. For some women, it may mean choosing to work in an environment better for their career growth and mental health.

One of the most challenging aspects of succeeding in the workplace, especially for women, is advocating for themselves throughout their careers.Click To Tweet

3. Know when to say “no.”

In a work setting, “yes” is typically the first word that comes to mind when tapped for an assignment. And often, it is the best or only response.

However, when stretched beyond your capacity, make sure you can deliver. If not, take steps to set yourself up for success. For instance, negotiate a better timeline so that you can complete the project without over-taxing yourself. Also, consider asking for help if the project’s scope is beyond your capacity to finish it alone. And, if you know that you can’t complete the project successfully, decline it respectfully.

4. Ask for and be receptive to receiving feedback.

Finally, don’t forget that asking for and listening to others as they share feedback helps you build advocacy. For example, if your boss has outlined how you need to improve to reach your next promotion, make sure to take that information to heart if you want to succeed.

It’s not always easy to hear about the areas where you still have room to grow. Still, openness to this feedback will be invaluable for the future of your career. Follow up on feedback from others reinforces their ability to notice, appreciate and share your grow and development. In this case, feedback can be a gift to your career development.

If you’re looking for more career advice for women, pick up a copy of Get Your Career in SHAPE: A Five-Step Guide to Achieve the Success You Need, Want, and Deserve to learn how to manage your career success on your own terms.

Get Your Career in SHAPE: A Five-Step Guide to Achieve the Success You Need, Want, and Deserve
$25.99 $19.33

Instead of holding our careers down or back, women can rise―on our terms. Are you ready to own your power and take the next step in your career?

With groundbreaking research on women's leadership, Dr. Candace Steele Flippin's guidebook empowers women to "challenge the glass ceiling system within their own minds" (Tyree C. Daniels, executive chairman at Memphis College Preparatory).

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05/28/2024 05:51 pm GMT

Dr. Candace Steele Flippin is communications executive, workplace scholar and bestselling author. Follow her on LinkedIn at


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