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How to Stand Up for Yourself in the Workplace

by Ralph Heibutzki

Standing up for yourself at work is necessary if you're juggling more projects than you can handle. The solution is learning how to assert yourself without coming off as confrontational, indecisive or unorganized. The more quickly you learn this skill, the more respect you'll gain, even if the boss overrules your opinion. If that's not possible, you may have to bide your time until a different opportunity opens up.

Assess the Situation

Given a request that seems difficult to fulfill, it's best to assess the situation first. Pleading that you're overwhelmed makes you look unfocused. Instead, it's better to check if you can achieve some quick wins, and present that information to your boss first, suggests "The New York Times." You'll then be in a stronger position to figure out a more realistic deadline later, or take the responsibility if you can't fulfill the assignment.

Offer Alternative Proposals

Before declining any request, it's best to respond with specifics, since your boss doesn't always realize how much work he hands out. If last-minute requests are a pattern, it's acceptable to point out alternative factors that complicate your task, reports "Forbes" magazine. Presenting this information shows that you've done your homework, and allows you to offer alternative proposals to manage the workflow. You can then ask your manager to re-prioritize assignments with conflicting or overlapping deadlines.

Request a Meeting

If work keeps piling up, you'll have to request a meeting with your boss. For best results, make your case in a non-confrontational manner, advises "Forbes" magazine. Explain how your boss's management style is affecting your work/life balance, and ask what options are available to address the issue. Taking this approach allows your manager to collaborate in solving the problem, because most companies don't want to leave their brightest performers unhappy.

Work Within the System

Some managers lack the self-awareness to act on any feedback you provide. Such behavior indicates a dysfunctional boss who rationalizes away his actions. If that's the situation, working within the system is your only recourse, warns "Psychology Today.'' Sometimes, filing a detailed complaint with the human resources department -- and encouraging co-workers to do likewise -- can resolve the issue. Otherwise, you may have to request a transfer, or start looking for another job.

Other Considerations

Most bosses respect subordinates who speak up for themselves, as long as the dissenting opinion is voiced respectfully, observes "CBS Moneywatch" columnist Amy Levin-Epstein. Although you may believe otherwise, you probably have less to fear than you imagine. A supervisor who wants to solve problems won't expect his staff to support every proposal he makes, because automatic agreement isn't healthy in a well-run business. As a result, your rejections will carry more weight when you do voice them.

About the Author

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