When you are working for someone else, it can feel impossible to stand up for yourself – but you can.

In a democratic society, WE WORK WITH PEOPLE, not work for people


First of all, you should work with others, NOT WORK FOR OTHERS! Get this mindset right. It’s quite common that we work for others, especially in our first job or other service engagement. Eventually, as you gain better skill and more experience, start telling yourself that you are working with others, not for others. Failure to elevate your status as a self-esteemed service provider kind of person may cause you to be trapped in a slave mentality; working for others for the rest of your life!

Standing up for yourself at work is necessary to ensure that you have a well-balanced, happy life. The truth is, all workplaces should be healthy, collaborative, productive environments, but sadly, most of the time they aren’t. You can play a role in improving your work life by standing up for yourself at work.

Speak Privately

If your issue is with a particular person, always arrange to speak with them privately and formally. Arrange to have a meeting and let them know what the meeting is about too. That way, you can both show up prepared and ready to tackle the issue in the time that you have available.

Show Empathy

Even if you firmly believe the other person is at fault, it’s imperative to show empathy to their side of the issue. If you can speak to them in terms they understand, using words that let them know you understand them, it will go a lot more smoothly.

Be Clear and Concise

Don’t mince words when you talk to the person. Be very clear and concise about the issues at hand. Say your piece and let them say theirs. Answer questions without being defensive and let them do the same.

Use Professional Language

Anytime you have a meeting that is going to be slightly confrontational, it’s best to keep it professional and not use expletives during the conversation. Even if other people do it, it won’t help your cause to do it too.

Offer a Solution to the Problem

Always give your solution to the problem, the best-case scenario of what you’d like to see happen. You will want to be willing to compromise to a point, but it will depend on the situation.

Don’t Vent to Co-Workers

Never gossip or vent to co-workers about any issues you are having with anyone at work. It’s always going to get back to the person, and it will not solve any of the issues.

Follow the Golden Rule

Treat other people with the same respect you wish to be treated with. This can be hard if they’re not doing it, but you must go out of your way to follow it even if others aren’t.

Lead by Example

Dr. Phil once said on an old Oprah show that, “…[You] teach people how to treat you by your example.” If this is the case, unless someone has expressed a preference, treat people how you’d like to be treated and they’ll return the same.

Creating a healthy, collaborative, and productive work environment is an important achievement for every person who must work. Whether you’re the boss or a worker doesn’t even matter; you can create the environment you want at work by standing up for yourself more often.


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