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  • Writer's pictureStryker

4 tips for effective self-advocacy in the workplace

Updated: Apr 3

Do you ever struggle with saying no at work, leaving yourself overextended? If so, you’re not alone. While saying ‘yes’ can expose you to additional opportunities and allow you to expand your professional network – learning when to say no can make or break your professional experience.  


Often, people feel compelled to say ‘yes’ in an effort to be viewed as a team player, as someone who can be counted on, or to gain experience they think is a rare opportunity. However, this desire to always lend a hand can lead to burnout and additional stress.  At Stryker, we want our employees to practice work-life integration – but we recognize saying no or passing on an opportunity can feel uncomfortable.  


The good news? Learning about and practicing self-advocacy can empower you to set boundaries and help advocate for yourself at work, voice your needs and drive your professional growth. We asked our team members ways they’ve practiced self-advocacy in their careers – and best practices they’ve learned during their careers.  

 

Here are four tips to master the art of self-advocacy in your professional life: 


 1. Develop strong communication skills 

Effective communication is crucial for self-advocacy, which involves expressing your needs, preferences, and rights to ensure that you are heard and respected. Whether it's sharing your accomplishments, expressing concerns, or negotiating for better opportunities, articulate your thoughts and needs concisely.  


“Whenever I find myself struggling with articulating an issue, I take a moment to organize my thoughts into three parts. What do I want? What have I done to get there? How can the person I’m speaking to support me? The answer to these questions usually allows me to structure my train of thought for a straightforward conversation starter.” - Pauline N. |Snr Recruitment Marketing Associate | Singapore 

 

2. Know your goals and boundaries 

Understanding your career objectives is essential for effective self-advocacy. By knowing your professional aspirations, short- and long-term goals, and boundaries you’d like to establish, you’ll be able to share your needs more confidently and clearly with your supervisors, colleagues, or HR department.  


Claire A., Regional Manager in Australia, always had a dream of traveling the world for an extended period. Before resigning, she decided to bring this to her manager, and together, they were able to kickstart a conversation with Human Resources in Australia and it became the catalyst for implementing a new employee benefit specifically in Australia called Career Break which enables employees to take up to a year off for personal passions.  “I am still so proud that I was able to advocate for myself, and help Stryker develop an initiative that allows others to follow their dreams!” - Claire A. | Regional Manager | Australia 


3. Document your achievements and contributions 

Do you keep track of positive feedback or your achievements? If not, you should start! Whether you track in a folder or create a document that highlights your contributions and impact, this can make a big difference in advocating for yourself. Not only will you have tangible evidence of your wins that can strengthen your position when discussing new opportunities – you’ll also have a quick reference point, if needed, to remind yourself how awesome you are.  


“I keep an ‘atta girl’ folder in my email – every time I receive positive feedback or see one of my projects that has had lasting impact, I file it away. I pull from this folder when I have performance reviews, and when I need a refresher on why my work matters. It keeps me motivated and allows me to have a record of items I may have forgotten about that made a difference.” – Leslie B. | Employer Brand Lead | United States 

 

4. Build a supportive network 

A supportive network can go a long way in self-advocacy. Cultivating relationships with mentors, colleagues, and industry contacts can provide support, guidance, and potential opportunities. A way of leveraging your network could be seek advice from individuals who have successfully navigated similar situations or can offer different perspectives. Our Stryker’s Women’s Network regularly hosts “SWN Listens” sessions where members can connect and discuss issues they may have faced in their day to day in a safe space with open dialogue, as well as be part of a mentorship network. 

“I have a strong passion for mentoring, developing, and promoting female talent. SWN allows me a space to lean into this.” – Amber F. | SWN Member | United States 

 

If you are looking to be a part of a supportive team, check out our job openings here!


 

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