One of the primary reasons we get frustrated at work, or in any other facet of our lives, is our inability to stand up for ourselves . . . aka, self-advocacy. The thought can be intimidating for most as it involves conflict. Conflict resolution carries with it the aura of risk and fear but, when applied correctly, can be highly rewarding and effective.
A Good Attitude is Great, But Not Always Enough
- As with most things, the solution starts with a good positive attitude and a commitment to perseverance.
- You cannot always control who you work for, or with, but you can control your attitude toward them.
- Read up on how to be more effective at work.
- It is easy to give in to being frustrated at work but you need to snap out of that mindset.
Why Self-Advocacy is So Important
- Don’t expect the world to be mind-readers . . . if you have a problem, and keep it to yourself, it has no chance of ever being resolved.
- It is quite possible, even probable, that the person with whom you have conflict is not even aware there is an issue. Even if they are, guaranteed they don’t not see it from your perspective.
- At some point you will need to engage in conflict resolution so it’s best to be prepared for that moment. It’s even better to be proactive (more on that in a moment).
Why Self-Advocacy is So Difficult
- There is nothing formal that prepares anyone for how to approach conflict resolution. If you’re lucky you had someone, a parent, sibling or mentor who may have given you some tips, at best.
- Unfortunately, experience is the best teacher but that doesn’t mean the lessons were complete.
How to Begin the Self-Advocacy process . . .
Call a Meeting
- As with all things in life, take a balanced approach. You want to be assertive but not aggressive.
- Sit down prior to meeting and prepare what you want to say. Keep it tight and focused.
- Keep the conversation focused on your needs, not on who may be at fault. Keep it positive.
Keep it Short and to the Point
- If you prepared well you can be very clear on exactly what you want to say and why.
- Identify the facts (not opinions) of the situation and summarize them clearly.
- Consider the point of view of your audience when speaking. Remember, it is not what you say, it is what they hear that matters.
Present Solutions, Not Complaints
- Don’t ever assume the person you are speaking with has all the answers. Quite often, without specifically saying so, they are as lost as you and would welcome a proposed solution to the conflict.
- Make sure your solution is best for the organization as a whole but also reflects well on your audience. They will appreciate and remember the gesture.
Confirm the Takeaways
- When you’ve reached a clear point of agreement, repeat back the parameters of the conflict resolution
- In this way there will be no misunderstanding later.
- It is always a good idea to later put it down in an email or text so there is an agreed upon confirmation of the understanding.
Commit to Action
- Mutually agree upon not only next steps but actual commitments that are trackable. If appropriate include a timetable for action steps or conclusions.
Whether your issue is with your boss, a co-worker or personal the self-advocacy approach outlined above will always lead to better conflict resolution. So stop being frustrated at work and take control of your future!
Some other reading you might find helpful includes:
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