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5 Self-Advocacy Strategies Using Emotional Intelligence

Learn how to self-advocate and bring your whole self into spaces


Have you ever taken inventory of your social circles and asked yourself, "Do I feel seen, support and psychologically (emotionally) safe?"


If you answered "no" to any of these areas, it may lead to difficulty with speaking up for yourself which is known as self-advocacy. This is your ability to communicate you own interests, desires, needs and rights effectively and boldly.


“People who self-advocate are more likely to let others know how they feel and what they need to thrive in many areas of life including relationships, at work and in the community."

If you answered "no" to any of these areas, it may lead to difficulty with speaking up for yourself which is known as self-advocacy. This is your ability to communicate you own interests, desires, needs and rights effectively and boldly.


Perhaps your ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as identify and adapt to other people's emotions influences speaking up for yourself. It's essentially about emotional sensitivity to the world around you which is called emotional intelligence.


I can imagine there have been times when people tried to silence you. Guess what? You survived those moments. It's your ability to work through these challenges that makes you a great self-advocate.


As a Black woman, I am often in spaces where I'm one of few if not the "only one in the room" which means the spaces often don't have people that look like me and attempts to be inclusive have fallen short. This is frustrating.


If you've been "the only one," at times it's conversational and other times it can feel like you're invisible. I've learned that the sense of invisibility is not because of who you are, but due to the other person's discomfort with interacting, saying the wrong thing or being afraid to break the norm.


Why this topic?


Many people were never actually taught how to self-advocate, but recognize it doesn't feel good when they're being walked over and pushed aside.


When I think about my life, I was never taught how to self-advocate - verbally or nonverbally. No one taught me how to bring my whole self into spaces and speak out.


Non-verbally? Yes, non-verbally. Verbal self-advocacy means using your words and non-verbal means using your body language, tone and presence to demonstrate assertiveness.


Speaking up for yourself can be scary especially when you're in a space where you don't feel seen, supported and psychologically (emotionally) safe.


No hiding, no censoring, and no code-switching.


According to the Harvard Business Review, "code-switching" is a kind of behavioral adjustment and strategy used by Black people to navigate interracial interactions impacting their well-being, economic development and even physical survival.


It is likely that code-switching is the result of limited emotional intelligence when situations don't require you to switch, but more so a time to speak up for yourself.