Self-advocacy

I have been a certified administrator of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) since 2004. In my professional positions at three different institutions, I have presented multiple “Type” workshops to students, faculty, and staff. I have made the mistake of doing these sessions out of the goodness of my heart and my desire to be a helpful, collaborative professional.

This summer, my colleague asked if I would facilitate the MBTI for incoming doctoral students. As part of her ask, she asked me what my fee was. I said something like, “oh no, that’s okay. You don’t have to pay me.” To which she said, “No, this is an expertise that you have and you should be paid for it.” I was totally blown away. Gosh darn it! She’s right! I do have this expertise, a lot of practical experience, and a terminal degree which lends credibility to my role as expert. We plowed ahead with the proposal to pay me for my time. Both departments running the Orientation agreed to split the fee and my supervisor gave the go-ahead. Yeah! I was going to get paid for my expertise. For the first time.

I prepped. I prepped at home. I revised slides. I practiced. Then, I did it. And it was great. I love the MBTI. I love helping people find their best fit type and then help them use what they learned to be better communicators, team players, and students.

And then, they didn’t pay me. As the request made it up the channels of paperwork, word came back down to me that they were not going to compensate me. Me doing all that prep work and those two sessions (one of which was on my day off) were part of the “Monica” package that I brought to the table.

I was crushed. I am sure I pouted. As a new professional and even just a few years ago, I think I would have pouted for a long time and then thrown up my hands and moved along. I would have accepted that this is just how it goes. This time though, something was different. There were voices telling me to keep pushing, to stand up for myself, to ask. The literature (and my own experience and my observations of others) are constantly revealing that women don’t ask, they don’t negotiate, they wait to be recognized.

For one of the first times I can remember in my professional life, I said, “No. No, this is not okay.” I advocated for myself, my time, my experience, and my expertise. I had provided something and I should be compensated for that. I put together a proposal requesting that I be paid for my time. And, it worked. I advocated for myself and it worked!

This experience marks a turning point of sorts for me. I learned some very important professional and personal lessons:

  1. I have to ask. I have to ask for what I need and deserve and be firm in getting it.
  2. I learned that self advocacy is a skill that takes confidence and practice.
  3. I am grateful for my colleague who suggested that I be paid in the first place.
  4. I am grateful for my supervisor who was willing to take a creative but fair proposal back to the powers that be and advocate for me.
  5. It helps to have allies.
  6. There are women out there who will support and cheer for other women. I am grateful for those women. I hope to continue to be one of those women for others.
  7. As a Mid-Career professional one of my professional responsibilities is to help younger professionals, especially women, learn how to advocate for themselves.
  8. Get compensation agreements in writing.
  9. Get a deposit up-front.
  10. No more free MBTI sessions.

Are you advocating for yourself and being compensated (however you define it) for the unique gifts and skills you bring to the table? Psst…You are worth every penny!

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