Learn How to Stand Up For Yourself

Learn How to Stand Up For Yourself by Ana Brady

learn to stand up for yourselfI was both lucky and unfortunate at my first job, where I worked as an assistant to a mean publishing editor. She did everything she could to make her employees’ lives miserable.

I know I didn’t make this up, because after a few years, when all of us finally quit our jobs, we started meeting once a month to pour out our frustrations. It took us six meetings to cool down a little bit.

Though this period was very stressful for me, I think I was lucky to have worked with such wonderful people, minus the boss. I was also lucky to have had such a difficult experience at the beginning of my career, when I was still a clean slate and could learn from my mistakes in the way I positioned myself towards my superior.

The story does not have a happy ending where I change my boss and we work together happily ever after. I was forced to quit my job. Even if I’d sued her at that time, I knew I’d be very stressed out with the whole process. I just decided to withdraw and look for another job. Maybe this seems like a loser’s way out, but I came to a realization that I was 100% sure of, that I’d maintain my health and peace of mind only if I left that place.

Here are some of the mistakes I made during my first job appointment.

1) I let my boss behave informally with me. When she was in the mood, we drank coffee together and shared personal stories. In the beginning, I thought that was nice bonding. Later I realized she was using my confidentiality for her manipulations.

2) I ran private errands for my boss. She’d always ask me very politely and charmingly to do something for her and I thought it would be bad manners to refuse. After a while it became degrading, but I didn’t know how to suddenly say “No.”

3) I never talked back when she was criticizing me in front of others. Most of the time she was wrongly accusing me of things that were her fault. Once, when I tried to point out that she was supposed to do something, and not me, she snapped back at me that a) she didn’t ask me anything, so why was I speaking? and b) it was my duty to remind her of her obligations.

4) I assumed her part of the work, embarrassed to let her know that she should do it, afraid that she’d find a way to make me feel bad about it.

I’m pretty sure I’ll never make these mistakes again. Through very bad experience I learned to stand up for myself and to say “No” when something is inappropriately demanded of me.

After quitting this job, I had some time to think about what I really wanted to do in life. It certainly had to involve writing. After many more jobs, happy times and small disappointments, I came to a place where I finally feel safe and relaxed about work. I also have time to do my own writing, whether in the form of blog, short story, a funny poem for my children, or a romantic letter to my husband to encourage him to keep being the way he is.

I urge all of you who have problems at work with your employers to speak up, to value yourself and to say “No” to unreasonable requests. It is an important life skill, to learn how to stand up for yourself. You should have nothing to fear if your performance at work is good. Or, you can just turn your back on people who don’t deserve your skills and look for a way to achieve satisfaction in what you do for a living.

Author: Ana Brady is a mother of two, a happy wife, and part of a creative group that works on a project on piggyback labels. In her free time she enjoys writing about food, healthy living, recreation, family and similar topics.