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8 Ways to Show Courage at Work

May 14, 2020 No Comments

When we think of jobs little kids say they want when they grow up, what type do they typically come up with? Firefighters, police officers, Wonder Woman…jobs that we can easily equate with bravery.

But what about who you are now? Do you see bravery in being an engineer, a teacher, an executive assistant, a communications manager, or a number of other fields?

Maybe our job doesn’t necessarily conjure up visions of bravery, but maybe we need to look a little closer. How we perform our job frequently requires us to be a bit brave. Later this month I’ll share some resources for helping our daughters develop courage, so let’s recognize ways we can develop it in our own livelihoods. 

Say “Yes.” If offered a chance to do something new or challenging, say yes! Doing new things may or may not bring a raise or something quantifiable, but enhancing your skills and learning new things makes you a valuable asset! 

Say “No” or “I need help.” On the other hand, if an opportunity is too much at the moment, decline. Or if one of your regular responsibilities becomes too big or you have other things going on, you may need help. Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform, but if it’s not the right move for you, have the courage to say no or ask for more resources to do the thing.

My office is currently reading a book together about helping students thrive. At the end of our last meeting it was decided that we’d have two more chapters read by the next meeting. I am the *only* person in our department who is working from home with little kids who doesn’t have a non-working spouse that watches the kids all day so I can work. I finally said, “Yeahhh there’s no way I can read two chapters by then, it’ll be a miracle if I can read one.” I felt like a dork saying it and it was a small thing, but once I spoke up a couple other people agreed that two chapters of this dense material was probably too much for the time frame. Those small “no’s” make it easier for when the bigger ones need to happen.

Call out wrongs. Over the last few years, it has been fascinating to see abusers in media finally exposed. While I’m all for people paying the cost for their crimes, it’s heartbreaking how much pain could’ve been avoided if people working in that industry spoke up sooner. If you see things happening in your workplace that aren’t okay, say something. It could be a policy/legal breach or a company culture issue, but say something to help bring about change. If someone is harassing you specifically, get to HR asap.

Ask for a raise. Think you’re underpaid? Chances are good that you probably are. Most employers don’t just throw money around, so present a strong case and ask for it! My husband asks for a raise at his work every 6 months and gets one–albeit a small one–every time. There are women at his work who have been there for several years who have never asked for and never been given one. That’s crazy.

Ask questions. It’s okay not to know something. Nobody knows everything. If you’re unsure about how to do something, when a deadline is, or how to use a new method–ask! We don’t like to look incompetent, but as someone who has been the boss of others, I’d rather have someone ask me than to make something up that hurts us. 

Be confident in yourself. Being confident doesn’t mean you run around saying how great you are. Sure, that can be appropriate at times, and when it is–go for it! However, when I think of confidence at work, I think of learning your job and then applying your skills. Not feeling like you need someone to double check your decisions all the time. 

Own your mistakes. Every once in a while I have that panicky feeling that I forgot to do something for a student or did it wrong. Usually I did it and did it right, but occasionally I do something wrong or forget altogether. It has happened to all of us and I think most of us hate admitting that we’ve screwed up. But the best way I’ve seen to recover from it is to say, “Yes, I did (or did not) do that and I’m sorry, now how can I fix it?”

Uplift others in a crisis. Has anyone’s job not been affected by Covid-19? It affects our jobs, which can affect our paychecks, which affects the rest of our lives. Mostly small things, like feeding our kids…It has been really nice to see level headed people taking the lead in keeping offices calm, reassuring co-workers, and taking thoughtful precautions. Whether it’s a global pandemic, rumors of department layoffs, or even the death of an employee’s loved one–there’s many opportunities to uplift others. Sometimes it can take a lot of courage to do this, especially when you don’t know the person well or you’re internally freaking out too.

So there you have it, 8 ways to show courage at work. Hopefully as you read through, you realized you already do some of these and are braver than you may think.

What other ways do you think you can show courage at work?

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