Do you struggle to advocate or negotiate for yourself (but aren’t at all afraid to speak up for someone else)? Are you afraid of being perceived as overconfident, greedy, or pushy?

If you’re worrying too much about how others might view you, or if you have trouble finding the mindset or words to advocate for yourself, this episode is for you.

In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:

  • Styles of negotiation, and a critical mindset shift
  • How self advocacy manifests in professional opportunities (or lack thereof) – it’s not just money!
  • “Healthy entitlement” – what it means, and how you can use it

Today we’re going to be talking about everyday negotiation situations. Inspired by a question asked at a virtual conference I attended. Selena Rezvani was the speaker, and she asked us: “What is the number one word that comes to mind, for you, when you think of advocating for yourself?” The responses (and her follow-up) were too good to not share.

This episode explores why professional women think the way we do about how we show up and ask professionally. After this episode, you’ll think of self advocacy, negotiation, and healthy entitlement in an entirely new way.

“If you are delivering that value, you’re absolutely entitled to the compensation and to the reward, that delivering that value has earned you.” – Marjorie Stiegler

In this Episode:

[1:20] The importance of framing, message mapping, and professional branding

[2:45] Do these words come to mind when discussing self advocacy?

[4:24] What we negotiate for (hint: it’s not just money, and it adds up!)

[6:55] What if you sound ungrateful, overconfident, or pushy?

[8:45] A negotiation style spectrum – which one are you?

[11:40] What is “healthy entitlement” and do YOU have it?

[14:00] How to stop feeling demanding or overconfident (it’s simple, I promise)

[16:40] What to do about not feeling authentic in your actions

[18:36] How to use micro-opportunities for negotiation and self advocacy

Links and Resources:

The Branding Rx 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand

Pushback: Top leadership consultant Selena Rezvani argues that self-advocacy is critical to success.

#36 – Are These Authenticity Traps Holding You Back? : The top 5 authenticity traps that keep you from finding success in your career.



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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 43 – Healthy Entitlement and Why You Probably Need More

Hey there, welcome to the Career Prescription. I’m your host, Marjorie Stiegler. This podcast is all about the important stuff. They don’t teach you in medical school, about how to treat your career, like the business it really is, and how to be strategic about your success. I’ll show you how to use modern strategies to get ahead, create your own path, and do more of what you love. Every episode is inspired by questions from listeners just like you. So be sure to subscribe and of course, send me those questions, so I can use them on a future episode. so you don’t miss anything. Be sure to always check the show notes on my website. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

Hey, there, welcome back. Today, we are going to be talking about self advocacy, negotiation, and healthy entitlement. So these may be terms that sound familiar, I hope you’ll be thinking about them in a different way, before the end of the day today.

And I’ll give you a little preview. Today’s episode is not actually inspired by a listener question. It’s inspired by a question that I was asked, or at least the entire audience was asked by a speaker in a session of a conference, I recently attended the Selena Rezvani. And she’s the author of a book called push back, which is a book on negotiation. And I got really very into it, because right from the beginning, she was talking about something that I recognize as being professional branding. And of course, if you know anything about me, you know, I’m very much into the importance of how you frame your activities, your goals, how you set up your professional brand, and how you represent what you want to do in the language of the other person be that your boss or the potential client or patient. whomever it is, it’s sort of the decision maker.

That’s what I think is so very important. It’s something that I call professional branding. She was calling it something else, but that is what got me interested. And so, of course, I loved the rest of her talk. If you haven’t yet checked out The Branding Rx because for some reason you haven’t thought about professional branding as being important to you. I certainly hope that you will do that on my website,, I hope that you’ll feel differently about that phrase at the end of this podcast episode, if you haven’t really thought about branding as being important for your professional development.

But again, back to Selena Rezvani’s session on negotiation. She started off by asking people, this was a virtual conference. So she was asking people, you know, on the equivalent of zoom, and people were answering either to themselves or on a sticky note or into the chat. The question she was asking is, “what is the number one word that comes to mind, for you, when you think of advocating for yourself, when you think of self advocacy?”

It was really fascinating to look at the chat and to see what kind of words people were typing in. So these were other women who are attending a health care business meeting, right. That was the conference for business, people in health care, particularly women. And for many, many of the people they were typing in words that might sound familiar to you, they said: demanding, aggressive, annoying, ungrateful, overconfident, squeaky wheel. So these are some of the things that people are reflecting when they think about really going after and negotiating for and advocating for what they want professionally. These are words that they associate with that. So my interpretation there is that they feel that they might be perceived as being ungrateful or perceived as being annoying or overconfident, or that they, I guess, perceive themselves in that way, which I guess will be interesting to know whether or not then they do go advocate.

Anyway, the speaker said that one of the things that she hears the most is pushy. And I think that is consistent with what was typed into the chat, right, that when women are advocating for themselves professionally, they associate that with being pushy, or that it’s somehow sort of cringy to do it to they don’t feel comfortable doing it, or that it’s yucky in some way. That how she described it. And definitely the audience, I think, was really resonating with them because people were typing in, you know, yes, that’s how they feel when they think about advocating for themselves or negotiating for themselves.

So it’s worth taking a pause to say, Okay, well, what do we negotiate for and why it matters. A lot of times when we think about negotiation, we think about negotiating for salary. And you certainly do, right, you negotiate for salary, or a title, or other perks right things like vacation or protected academic time or administrative time. Maybe it’s an educational fund. And so then we start to see that the pie really gets bigger, right? It could be also about professional development opportunities for you, that you’re advocating for and in some places that might be supporting you to get an additional degree and other places it might just be giving you again, that academic or educational allowance, the ability to attend conferences, you are often negotiating to get certain types of work, maybe certain types of assignments that either are just more consistent with what you’re interested in, or maybe are very high visibility right now, that you know, could lead to something next. We also negotiate for the types of not only the types of work, but the types of people, right, the teams that we want to work with the types of people that we want to spend our time with, and that we want to want to work with and for, and we negotiate to get leadership responsibilities. So not only do we look for leadership opportunities that are maybe an official capacity and come with a title, but we do negotiate for opportunities to have leadership responsibilities, so that we can represent and be sort of the voice or the face of the department or the team or the institution. And all of that, of course, leads to future professional opportunities.

So negotiation is not just about money. That was maybe a little bit of a detour, but I do want you to think of it in a really broad way. And it matters, I think much, much more than we realize, because negotiation affects much more than just that tiny sliver of salary or benefits in negotiation affects all of those things I just mentioned, and more.

And the reason that’s so important is because we often do not advocate for ourselves, the way that we would, for a junior colleague, or someone that we manage, someone that we’re mentoring. And we don’t often advocate for ourselves in the way that we deserve. Or that we would do if we had, you know, a best friend or again, a close professional colleague, who had sort of an identical skill set and identical aspirations. So we aren’t standing up for ourselves advocating for ourselves and negotiating for ourselves in the way that we do for others, which is really interesting. I think a lot of it comes back to this feeling that you may be perceived as being ungrateful for the opportunities that you already have, or what’s already being offered.

Or that you might be perceived as being overconfident, which I think is really, really a word worth marinating on here. Because it’s not the confident part, it’s the overconfident part. Why on earth do we think we’re being overconfident when we are advocating for ourselves and for the things that we know we’re capable of, and that we want to do, or even the things that if we’re not sure we’re capable of, we still want to give it a try. And we know from research, you know that there are other groups, women, physicians are not among them very much. But there are other groups who are more than happy to take on assignments for which they don’t feel fully prepared, and they’ll figure it out as they go. And they’re not worried about that. So I would suggest, maybe we should do that as well.

So that’s one of the reasons I think it matters so much is what we negotiate is really a much more broad swath of things than we think about when we think about negotiating, it’s not just salary, it’s every single day, all of the activities, the work, the teams, the people, everything that we’re doing. And we don’t do it in the same way, we would do it for a colleague. So unless you have a really amazing sponsor, speaking up for you, there’s really nobody who’s more expert on you, and your career experience and your perspective on things and your expertise and your goals than yourself. So there’s nobody who is in a better position to advocate for you, then you, and yet we know we aren’t doing it. So that’s why it matters.

So one of the things that Selena went on to talk about is sort of a three part framework, I would say, sort of loosely defined, but she put it on a slide. So these are her words, not mine. And I want to be sure to give her that credit. She said there’s sort of three ways, three sort of styles for negotiation. And she started off by saying most people fall into one of these first two, and that she hopes that people who attend her lecture will think about the third category. So let me try to verbalize these for you:

So the first one is where I think many of us land. Those of us who feel like we don’t want to be perceived as aggressive or ungrateful or pushy or overconfident. End up in this sort of deferential style that she said is sort of passive or even apologetic, kind of an appeasing style. And what you’re really saying when you take that posture or when you when you approach negotiation or self advocacy, and that way, she said is you’re really communicating that the other person’s idea or stature is more important than yours. So you are saying to them, your idea is more important than mine. You obviously aren’t saying that verbatim, but that’s essentially what you are communicating. Obviously, we do want to show respect to our colleagues, certainly to our bosses in the main decision makers, but she does recommend while she’s talking about this style that you not be too deferential, because it really does give away power. And she quoted I don’t know the source of this quote, but she quoted the saying that if you put someone up on a pedestal, don’t be surprised if they start to look down on you. So obviously there are hierarchies. And there are sort of chains of command within our organizations. But we do need to be mindful when we think about your own sort of worth and value, whether or not you are being too deferential, giving away that power and essentially being passive or apologetic just for your existence and saying that that other person’s idea saying, by your behavior, that the other person’s idea or statue is is more important than than yours.

On the flip side, the other side of that spectrum, is that aggressive and insistent and domineering style as she described, and that person is really sort of saying my needs are more important than yours. So just it’s my way or the highway, get with the program. And they just come in very confident and even more so to just sort of set that tone, that they are insisting they’re aggressive, they’re domineering, and they’re clearly communicating that in their view, their needs are more important. Or their stature is more important, their rank, their hierarchy is more important. So that’s sort of the two ends of the spectrum that most people fall on. And I think most of my listeners, more than likely are falling into that deferential side, inadvertently, because we don’t have a lot of practice, we don’t have a lot of coaching on how to do this.

So she proposes a third style that she describes as being very direct and honest and open. And she calls it healthy entitlement, which I just love, because the word entitlement sometimes has a bad rap, right? And makes people feel like that’s inappropriate or a bad thing. So she’s qualifying it by saying it’s healthy entitlement. What is healthy entitlement? This is not rocket science. But I found it to be, I found it to be really profound, really, to kind of think about it, she says, what you’re really saying, when you interact with somebody, in a healthy entitlement style, is your saying that you are no more or less important than me. You and your ideas are no more or less important than mine. It’s just, it’s an absolute equalizer.

And I think it’s important because it’s talking about, at least my interpretation of this, is it’s talking about your your core value, it’s not talking about how many years of experience you have, it’s not talking about what types of education you have, it’s just sort of saying that your idea, your thoughts, your perspectives are no more and no less important than mine; your needs are no more and no less important than mine. It is healthy entitlement.

So this kind of changes the way that you might think about advocating for yourself, instead of thinking that, you know, your idea is something that you just hope someone will give a little bit of attention to, and you’re really hoping to appease and get some buy in. And that that would be some kind of endorsement from above to instead sort of approach it from this much, much more neutral stance. That your ideas are absolutely important, that your needs are absolutely important. Not the most important, but certainly no less important than that of others. And I think if you look at things that way, it’s very disarming suddenly, and you realize, yes, you know, my needs, my ideas, my professional existence, my money, my perks, my types of assignments, my teams, my responsibilities, and my opportunity to develop and advance are no more and no less important than that of others.

So what can we do with this information? In my view, if you approach a negotiation or self advocacy opportunity, from that position of healthy entitlement, that your ideas are no more no less important than others, then suddenly, a lot of those feelings of being pushy, just fall away, or a lot of the idea of being overconfident or demanding really fall away, because you’ve, you have put yourself right there on equal footing, to talk about what it is that you can contribute, that you can do and of course, an appropriate way that you ought to be rewarded for doing that. The same way that you would do for someone else that you really valued, that you thought was really had a lot of promise, a lot of aspiration and that you wanted to support. So treat yourself in that same way, that healthy entitlement, that sort of level footing.

And use this as a way to sort of bring yourself back from not only major negotiation opportunities, but I think just sort of everyday interactions. On a daily basis, you can probably catch yourself behaving in a way that is either passive, apologetic, appeasing deferential, or that might be really insistent and aggressive. Neither way really being ideal. So if you can start to just pay attention to what is the style of your communication, on a daily basis. Again, it doesn’t have to be something big, like an annual review or or, you know, a formal big request, it is just the way you engage with others on a daily basis. Where are you falling on this? And can you, you know, now that you have an eye out for those traps, can you pull yourself back into that state of healthy entitlement? This idea of healthy entitlement reminds me a little bit of Brene Brown’s work where she has a mantra, which is just coming to my mind right now. So I haven’t referenced it. It’s in a book somewhere, I believe of hers, or one of her podcasts where she sort of says, she has to remind herself in situations where she’s feeling a little bit vulnerable to not puff up, but also don’t shrink. I think those are her words, that that strikes me as sort of these two sides of the spectrum as well. Don’t shrink, don’t be that passive, appeasing, apologetic, but no need to puff up either. And be sort of, you know, overcompensating and an aggressive or insistent stance. We can just have that healthy entitlement that my ideas, my needs, my perspectives, and what I bring to the table, no more, no less important than yours.

And so if you do that, and you keep an eye out for opportunities to practice, recognizing yourself doing it, and recovering from it, and bringing yourself back to a different type of communication style, on a daily basis, then I think that you’ll get really quite good at it. And you will start to lose some of these negative feelings, you’ll start to see how favorably people respond.

And you’ll be able to start cultivating that, which might feel a little bit uncomfortable, or even inauthentic at first. And if that is resonating for you, please go back and listen to my episode about authenticity traps that I think really hold us back. I’ll put the link to that in the show notes as well. But on a daily basis, be on the lookout for your own communication style, your own behavior. If it’s helpful to you, start to work this idea of healthy entitlement into a daily affirmation or some journaling a mantra, however, it is that you kind of remind yourself, maybe it is a little bit of a pep talk. But if it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to you now, you can make it natural by giving it that deliberate attention on a regular basis.

And once you’ve done that, and you start to shift from feeling pushy or unworthy to feeling appropriately confident in the value and importance of your ideas and your needs, then you will be much more effective in self advocacy. And you will be really in a much better position to feel really comfortable deploying all of the tools that we have talked about in The Branding, Rx, all of the professional branding and the framing about your work. So before you forget, I want you to come check out The Branding Rx it is 18 hours of CME. It is a value packed program. And it will help you to grow and get ahead no matter your goals. So I want you to do that even if you’re not ready to take that step now.

And I want you to start thinking about all of the ways in which you have small, sort of micro opportunities for negotiation and self advocacy, every single day in things other than title and salary, and how you can start to adopt a posture of healthy entitlement practice it now, while it is sort of lower stakes, until it becomes natural. And you will find that not only are you able to make a better contribution, because doors and opportunities will open for you as you approach negotiation in this way. But you will also start to have more personal feelings of fulfillment around your professional activities. And you very likely will start to get better compensation as well better rewards for your efforts.

And that of course, is fair. It’s fair and you are entitled to it. If you are delivering that value, you’re absolutely entitled to the compensation and to the reward, that delivering that value has earned you. So that’s it for today’s episode, go check out The Branding Rx if you want to check out Selena Rezvani author of Pushback. If you’re interested in listening to more of her strategies around negotiation. Please do that again. I’ll put the link in the show notes. That is it for this week’s episode. See you next time. Bye for now.

And thanks for joining me on this episode of The Career Rx. Be sure to leave me a review on Apple Podcasts or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. And definitely send me those questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode. Bye for now.

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