To stand up for what you believe in at work is never easy. I can still remember the day when I had to defy my former employer during my internship. At a somewhat unreasonable and authoritative manner I had to answer if I felt the workload was too high. With flaming cheeks, thinking about a question I never saw coming, I answered: “Yes, I do.” At that moment I could feel my heart beating.

Giving that exact answer could have made me unpopular. I worked in a team where it was normal to be perfect and happy all the time, and most of us actedas such out of fear of losing our jobs.

“Yes, if I have to be honest, I do,” I said while I tried to enforce my opinion during that conversation. My employer looked at me and for a second I didn’t know if we understood each other.

“I don’t think that is something you can ask her,” one of my colleagues said to help me out. Apparently she understood that a girl of my age (at the time only 17) wasn’t ready to have these kind of conversations. I had only just learnt how many units of clients the workspace actually had; so who was I to even think about these sorts of things.

The reality was simple; ‘She asked me to answer her question and so I did’. I did so respectfully.

“You actually said that?” were the responses my colleagues gave me after the incident. “Good for you, nobody is ever able to say anything to her.” It surprised me, I had no idea this was a remarkable thing to happen. I felt somewhat proud, as if I had magically taken away the injustice of my employer.

Years later I still experience how important it is to stand up for yourself on a daily basis. I notice that it is a little less black and white. I look at it differently now when an employer doesn’t really realize that boundaries are being crossed by handing out a number of tasks that are completely unreasonable.

I don’t assume he is doing it with bad intentions. At that moment the supervisor simply doesn’t know any better and you need to realize that he acts from his own framework.

When we approach people from a positive perspective and state that they don’t always know the effect of their leadership style and that this, as a result, isn’t unwillingness but incompetence the entire situation changes. Your employer will feel less targeted or disadvantaged and will listen to what you have to say, changing also your attitude. It is up to us to hand over new perspectives to others in an effective way to achieve change.

I know that there will be a number of employers who won’t respond to this tactic so easily; they are stuck in their own mind-set. However, it is still important to try. Approach your employer with knowledge and not with emotions. As a result the situation will be what is focused on and not the person (you or your employer).

Another reason why it is important to keep talking to your employer is because we are all people. It doesn’t matter what type of job you have, we will always continue to learn.

Here are three tips to help you start that confronting conversation with your employer:

1.First things first: don’t be afraid. Fear is a terrible advisor. Yes it is hard to talk about things that are not going so well, but afterwards you will definitely feel relieved. Especially when the situation is starting to escalate. No one will do it for you.

2.Be prepared. No one loves to receive criticism. When you prepare yourself you will be able to steer the conversation into a specific direction making sure you won’t say things you never meant to say. It is an excellent way to become more confident.

Work with a beginning, middle and an end.

The start of the conversation could be about what you experience to be unpleasant at work and how things could be different.

The middle could be about what you could do to come up with a solution and what your employer could do.

The end of the conversation is the concluding stage of the conversation during which you and your employer end the conversation feeling great and with concrete agreements.

Why not try it!

3.Find an appropriate moment to start the conversation. So don’t choose a moment when deadlines need to be met and you know your employer will be busy. Be understanding in that respect. But don’t wait too long either. It is always difficult to find the right moment. Compare it to being busy yourself and not having the time to meet with friends. In the end you will have to pick a time.

I cannot emphasize too often that being afraid isn’t a good reason to determine if you should or should not talk to your employer. Also key: what will you contribute to come up with solutions? Change is always met with resistance. However, if you help out by coming with a concrete solution and can demonstrate that this solution could be beneficial to solve the situation, your employer will be much more inclined to say yes to your proposal.

Find the right people in your company to help you achieve change.

Remember that your employer can also learn from you. You will definitely do the company you are working for a favour because no one wishes to work for an unreasonable employer. Or even worse; an employer who can’t deal with someone else’s feedback, will eventually run the company accordingly.

In the long run it will be beneficial to your own personal growth to learn how to point out your own boundaries; you will learn what type of behaviour you will and will not tolerate.

Your contribution to the company is valuable, even if the message you’re conveying isn’t always appreciated by others. Think about this and practice!

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