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The Importance of Standing Up for Yourself in the Workplace

As much as school tries to prepare you for the real world, there will always be certain things you will never be able to be ready for. You might have had to take part in a few group projects or presentations, experienced one-on-one meetings with professors, or have had to be a leader for something in class. Don’t get me wrong – there is plenty that one can take away from these experiences and apply them in other aspects of their lives, but when it comes to the workplace, there is a lot that school does not prepare you for. 

Teamwork is something that is highly valued in any workplace. If you can show that you have the ability to lead, to help others without being condescending and that you’re easy to get along with, chances are that you’ll leave a good impression on your employer. Working alongside a team of professionals is a great way to learn and pick up on habits to hold with you through the rest of your career. Naturally, this sort of work environment brings conflict. What your many years of education won’t teach you is how to stand up for yourself in a workplace without letting your anxiety or your superiors take advantage of you. 

When you start a new job, it’s really easy to fall into a mindset where you feel like you’re at the bottom of the food chain. In some context, you basically are. However, regardless of your position, your role matters, and you are as equally entitled to respect and professionalism as your senior colleagues are. 

The hard reality of most workplaces is that favouritism is highly present and it definitely does not go unnoticed. It’s natural for managers to develop relationships with their employees over time – it makes for great potential references for the future! The thing is, anyone can understand how favouritism can naturally occur, but when it starts to turn into treating other colleagues worse than those who are admired, it becomes a serious problem. 

Whether you’ve been at your job for four months or four years, you deserve to be treated with respect regardless of favouritism. Although, when you’re relatively new to your job, it’s hard to speak up about what you feel isn’t fair or right – I’m here to tell you that I know it’s hard, but it is way too important to ignore! 

There are a number of ways to stand your ground at your workplace. Personally, I think the best option would be to take the least confrontational path – the thing is, it’s impossible for things not to be confrontational when addressing an issue. If you can’t go directly to your manager about it, or if the issue is your manager themselves, I would highly recommend reaching out to anyone in a higher position or contact your Human Resources (HR) or Union representative to help out. Often, managers don’t make themselves as approachable or professional as they should be. This may push you to keep quiet and accept their treatment, but don’t ever be discouraged by those who don’t see your value. 

Something that future employers value more than your teamwork skills is integrity. If you know your worth and you act like it, you get people to respect you. Whether it’s a manager or another colleague, you should never let anyone in your workplace walk all over you. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there; if you don’t stick up for yourself, no one will. 

Dealing with a manager is much like getting into a romantic relationship with someone. If you don’t know your worth, respect yourself, or find confidence in your skills, it will be really hard to establish boundaries. We’re all human beings; regardless of position, your role is important and deserves equal treatment. If you ever run into a conflict with anyone in your workplace, don’t ever hesitate to be direct about it or to speak to a support counsel in your workplace (whether that be a Human Resources, Workers’ Union, or any other type of representative). If you don’t take it seriously, no one else will. 

Petra Korkomaz

Laurier Brantford '22

Petra is a Criminology student and pursuing a Minor in Human Rights and Human Diversity. She has a huge love for sushi, animals, and taking pictures of anything and everything! Cats and horses are her ultimate weaknesses (#CatPerson). Outside of HerCampus, Petra is usually found hanging out with her friends, binge-watching Netflix or playing with her puppy and 2 kittens! (They're adorable)
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