Work advocacy 101: Asking your boss for what you need to thrive

By Ben Samuel Shapiro

Even the best employees need support on the job sometimes. They also know that small changes can make a big difference. But how do you ask your boss for what you need to thrive at work?

Most bosses want you to do well at your job, because it makes the company more successful. But you have to take the initiative.

Begin by planning out what you want to ask for. Maybe you need your boss to give you a clear list of tasks. Or space to cool off after talking to a customer. It may help to write down or record your request.

If you don’t know what will help, be clear about the challenge. Is the videoconference so noisy that you get distracted? Is it hard to take notes mid-meeting?

Next, set aside time to talk with your boss. Avoid starting a conversation during a busy meeting or when your boss is stressed.

Your employer hired you because you are qualified. So approach the request like a regular part of work. You don’t need to reveal your life story. If you have a learning or thinking difference like ADHD, or a disability, it can help to share. But it’s not required.

You just need to be ready to advocate for what you need.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Ben Samuel Shapiro is an editorial assistant at Understood. He studied history at Northwestern University.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Natalie Tamburello, MPhil is the program manager for the product team at Understood.