Heather Hansen

You Can’t Advocate Until You Believe

You can’t advocate until you believe. In my recent interactions with my coaching clients I’ve been repeating this mantra over and over. One woman wants to advocate for herself at work. She wants more money and a better title. But when it comes time to speak to her manager and make her case, she hesitates. She thinks there must be a better time or a better approach. But what she really needs is to believe. She needs to believe in herself, and her worth. And she needs to believe that she’s earned what she is asking for, and that she is deserving. 

Another client wants to advocate for himself at home. He has taken on the lion’s share of childcare in his household, and he wants to advocate for a little more time for him to focus on his work. But some part of him thinks that makes him a lousy partner and a bad parent. When I ask him why he should get this extra hour every day, he hesitates. It’s clear to me that he doesn’t believe. And you can’t advocate until you believe. 

You Can’t Be Convincing Until You’re Convinced

An advocate has to influence, persuade and convince her jury. But you can’t be convincing until you’re convinced. As I always say, your toughest jury is the jury of voices inside your head. When that jury doesn’t believe, neither do you. And when you don’t believe, it’s close to impossible to make anyone else believe. So whatever it is you’re advocating for, you have to believe it first. You must convince that jury of voices inside your head before you can convince any other jury. And the way you get there is the same. 

You use the right words when you talk to yourself. So you choose words of encouragement rather than negativity, and words of support rather than degradation. Then you collect your evidence. My client had to collect evidence that she’d earned that promotion and that raise. She had to lay it all out for herself so she could lay it all out for her boss. And my other client had to collect evidence of the disparity between the work he was doing at home and the work his partner was doing. He had to make himself believe first. Only then would his partner follow.

How to Be Convinced

So convince the jury inside your head first. Use the same tools you use with any jury. Choose encouraging words that will resonate with you. Collect evidence of why you’ve earned what you want, how it will serve your jury, and why you deserve it. Ask yourself questions to challenge yourself and investigate your motives. Build your credibility, and then use it as a foundation for self trust and self confidence. Make yourself believe, and then it’s a whole lot easier to advocate.

You can’t advocate until you believe. Do the work necessary to convince the jury of voices inside your head. Make them believe in you. Make you believe in you. Then the rest of the world is much more likely to follow.

Heather Hansen

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