Feeling Powerless at Work? 5 Ways to Stand Up for Yourself

Standing Up for Yourself at Work


by Kate Muller

Do people take you seriously at work? Is your boss a bully? Are you carrying out the responsibilities of three different jobs, but only getting paid to do one?

If you work in an environment where you’re constantly being taken advantage of, maybe it’s time for you to take a long, hard look in the mirror and commit to standing up for yourself!

Gaining the respect of superiors and colleagues shouldn’t be something that gets put on the back burner. In fact, it’s a priority that should get top billing on each woman’s professional checklist.

Earning the title of office pushover can tarnish your reputation and interfere with your own personal and professional development. Don’t relinquish the power! Take action today with these 5 ways to stand up for yourself in the workplace.


1. Be Assertive

Self-advocacy is key. Employing this tactic at work empowers women to recognize and seek out the appropriate tools and accommodations needed in order to effectively carry out their job’s core responsibilities.

You shouldn’t have to settle for the role of glorified doormat. If you’re being mistreated or ignored, know when to speak up. Be firm in your stance, but know when to pick your battles. The glorified doormat label is less than ideal, but you don’t want to become known as the girl who flew off the handle, either!


2. Set Goals for Yourself and Stick to Them

Goal setting is a motivational technique that can come in handy when chasing after our career ambitions. Take the time to evaluate your position and map out your career’s direction accordingly.

Where do you see yourself in the near and distant future? What do you want to learn? How would you like to improve? Steer the course with a goal-oriented mindset. And if you feel yourself getting blown off that course, do something about it! If necessary, have constructive discussions with your boss and figure out how you can get back on the right track.


3. Have the Tough Conversations

If you’ve reached the end of your rope, it’s up to you to initiate an open dialogue. On the whole, managers and supervisors will automatically assume that all is well unless told otherwise. After all, no one likes confrontation.

Whether your issue is with your direct manager or an incompetent co-worker, the first step is to set aside some time to talk about it. Reach out and schedule a meeting. Be polite and professional in your approach and explain that your needs aren’t adequately being met.

Cite specific examples and elaborate on how this behavior or conflict is impacting your work and the bottom line for the company. Be sure to close with next steps on how you would like the circumstances to change or improve.


4. Learn to Say No

As women, we’re constantly having to walk that fine line between being perceived as strong-willed and high maintenance. The fact of the matter is that it’s tough for a woman to stand her ground and say no to something without being handed the award for “office bitch” afterwards.

Don’t let this unfair stereotype hold you back!

Find your voice and stick up for yourself. If you’re overwhelmed or have way too much on your plate already, speak up and let it be known. Explain your situation and make a stand.


5. Reject the Negativity

Professional workspaces are not immune from giving off negative vibes. A toxic work environment is damaging, not only to the organization as a whole, but to your mental health and personal well-being, as well.

Hard-nosed managers, prattling co-workers, and a volatile corporate culture are unhealthy variables that can lead to a truly miserable work environment. Avoid matching the negative energy and concentrate on maintaining your own positive attitude. Focus on what you need to do to succeed and drown out the negativity.


The Bottom Line

If you don’t have the guts to stand up for yourself and fight for some respect, who will? Have confidence and believe in yourself and you’ll be better off in the long run!

Now it’s your turn – what’s stopping you from standing up for yourself at work?



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One Reply to “Feeling Powerless at Work? 5 Ways to Stand Up for Yourself”

  1. Kate Muller

    Thanks, Rali!

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced this sort of thing firsthand, and I don’t want others to feel the way that I did! It’s really amazing how many work environments can be so toxic. It’s important that we women stand up for ourselves!

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