• Linda R. Taliaferro

How To Strengthen Your Ability To Self-Advocate

One of the greatest barriers to self-advocacy is knowing your self-worth.

Executive Coach Lisa Medley shared this with me in our recent conversation on Being Brown at Work Live as we discussed the topic of strengthening your ability to self-advocate.

One of the ways you build up any life practice is by knowing your starting point and knowing where you are going. One of the end goals for everyone in the corporate world is to feel confident enough to go after the title and money you worked so hard for.

But for black and brown women to get to that point in a world not designed for us to succeed as easily as others, we must first understand what is holding us back so we can learn how to overcome and become our strongest ally.

Lisa and I discussed this and more to help black and brown women shift their mindset so they can shift the trajectory of their careers.

(Read a summarized version of our conversation below. Watch the full interview here)

What held Lisa back from advocating for herself?

Her work and life history. On the work side of things, she came from a small non-profit organization and moved to a big corporation where people's ownership of their spaces and territorial nature proved intimidating. And in her personal life, she didn’t get her college degree until her 30s, so she was used to working low-paying jobs.

The transition to this big new world of corporate America made her feel small, like she didn’t belong.

She asked herself, “What am I doing here?”

She didn’t yet have the belief that she deserved to be there.

Why is mindset so critical?

Wherever you are, there you go. There’s no switch that should be taking place whether you are at work or at home.

This ties into how we think about ourselves and if we accept who we are. If you fully accept who you are, you are granting yourself permission to be who you are wherever you go.

The stories we tell ourselves have so much power over our lives. They can enhance our performance or undermine it. They can increase our ability to show up or increase our habit of standing in the shadows.

We get to choose what we believe about ourselves, so advancing your self-worth is choosing to believe in you–even when no one else does.

Self-advocating is not bragging

It’s not about ego and boasting. Self-advocacy is about speaking the truth about yourself. Because if you don’t toot your own horn, who will do it for you?

The difference lies in the intention.

If you are tooting your own horn for attention and to fill the desire to be liked or respected, you need to shift your thinking.

Advocating for yourself is linked to having your own back and standing up for yourself in a workplace that doesn’t readily give you a platform to showcase the real you.

This is your opportunity to write your own narrative before the whispers, rumors, and biases try to write one for you.

How to strengthen your advocacy muscles

Strong relationships can help you build the confidence to advocate for yourself.

When you gain a level of confidence and trust from key stakeholders, it eliminates the barriers keeping you from comfortably showing up with authenticity.

Building these key relationships is especially valuable when you aren’t in the room yet, but they are. They will be an advocate for you. And nothing builds confidence more than knowing you have people in your corner.

How to build internal relationships

After making the conscious decision to establish these relationships at work, your next step is to keep your finger on the pulse of the organization.

It’s easy to get hyper-focused on keeping your head down and doing your work, but allow yourself to be present and aware enough to know who you need to connect with and why. This will help you to make intentional connections with the key stakeholders and influencers in your organization.

One practical tip is to ask for help and support from someone who has a strength in one of your key growth areas.

Above all, be authentic

We can talk about knowing your competition and how you stack up or differentiate yourself (and we do in the conversation, which you can watch here). Even with all of this, the most important method for strengthening your self-advocacy remains the same: trust in who you are.

When you are first authentic with yourself, that authenticity will naturally translate to your relationships at work, how you carry yourself in the meetings and your overall confidence in establishing your executive presence.

Ignore the negative voices in your head spouting words of doubt and take courage because who you are is enough for where you are. It’s time to let them see you.

Self-Advocacy is Self-Confidence

I want to see you win in the workplace, and the path to making that a reality is building the confidence to self-advocate.

To help you shift your mindset and see results even faster, I want to give you this free guide. It will help you walk into your office, and even the board room, confidently because you know you belong.

Download the FREE GUIDE: Workplace Confidence for Black & Brown Women.

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