How to Advocate for Yourself


We don’t think twice about speaking up for our friends or our children, but when it comes to advocating for ourselves, most women need a little practice. Author, Vikki Carrel, teaches practical skills for real life situations.

Why do I find it difficult to advocate for myself?

-Advocating for ourselves can be risky. We fear failure, rejection, or feelings of embarrassment. We want to avoid conflict!

What is self-advocacy?

Self-advocacy is understanding your strengths and needs – ‘and effectively communicating’ them to others.

Advocacy scenarios and skills:

1. Advocating at home – informal environment

Skill: Identify and define the request.

*Scenario- Mom asks children for help with the household chores.

-Keep requests simple. Provide a clear definition of your requests.

-Create a distraction free environment. The outcome will be more effective if you have your family’s attention.

2. Advocating for a child at school – formal environment

Skills: Educate yourself and build expertise.

Separate passions from emotions.

*Scenario – Mom meets with the principal concerning her child’s academic performance.

-Educate yourself about the situation, gather information and bring possible solutions. Time is limited and valuable – provide a clear definition of your request.

-Separate passions from emotions.

3. Advocating for yourself at the dentist office – formal environment

Skill: Find a mentor and create a bridge to the solution.

*Scenario – You are uncomfortable with the immodest dress of the dental hygienist.

-To avoid conflict; find a mentor to discuss the problem or concern. This helps you gather information and understand office policy.

-Create a bridge; in certain situations it is best that a person of authority relays the message of concern.

4. Advocating for yourself with your spouse – informal environment

Skills: Value yourself and relationships where you are equal.

Attitude is important.

*Scenario – Discussing a financial concern with your husband.

-Value yourself – remember body language is key. Be open and refrain from setting off emotional triggers.

-Your attitude is important – be kind but firm.

5. Advocating for yourself with a health care provider – formal environment

Skill: Recognize that you have a voice and your opinion counts.

*Scenario – Talking to your doctor about a health concern or problem.

-Recognize that your opinion counts – it is OK to ask questions and not agree with the advice of a professional.

-You have the right to seek other opinions or additional information before making a final decision.

Skills to advocate for yourself:

-Value yourself and relationships where you are equal.

-Recognize that you have a voice and that your opinion counts.

-Identify and define the problem.

-Educate yourself and build expertise.

-Separate passions from emotions.

-Find a mentor, create a bridge to the solution.

-Attitude is important – be kind but firm.

Vikki Carrel is an author, speaker and founder of The Empowerment Project.

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