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How Working Women Build Support Systems at Work and Achieve Their Goals

The news of Kate Spade’s suicide in 2018 made one thing crystal clear to author and podcaster Elayne Fluker: working women need strong support systems.

Fluker, like Spade, struggled with depression and anxiety. Fluker has managed it for years using a variety of tools and techniques, but she says none have been as effective as asking for support.

“Getting support for myself in whatever ways that looks like, without judging myself for needing it, and knowing without a doubt that I deserve it, has been a game changer for me,” Fluker wrote in Get Over “I Got It”.

Studies show that working women experience more stress and burnout than men at work. HBR research found that women are more likely to volunteer for non-promotable office tasks than men, adding to their workload with little personal payoff. And whether women have families or are single, they’re also responsible for a majority of household chores, making their home lives as stressful as their work lives.

Fluker believes if more women were taught how to build their own support systems, we could finally see the gap between males and females in the office close and quality of life for women improve.

“When it comes to our support systems at work and wanting to achieve our goals, many women don't realize just how much their inability to ask for support and to ask for that support in an empowered way could be just the thing that's holding them back.”

Here are Fluker’s 5 best tips from Get Over “I Got It” for making an empowered ask for support:

5 Ways to Ask for Help and Build a Support System at Work

  1. Be ready.

    When someone asks what they can do to help you (or even if they don't ask and you have the opportunity to take the initiative and make a request) be ready with that request. When you go into any room, meeting, or networking event, you should be ready with whatever your ask will be.

  2. Provide a reason.

    What's the reason for this ask? Why is it important to you? Why is it important to the company where you work? How will achieving it make things better or easier for all parties? You have to give folks a reason to buy into your vision.

  3. Show your receipts.

    In other words, what have you done already on your own to get you closer to your goal before speaking to this person on the receiving end of your request? Even if you're just starting out and don't have a long list of accomplishments, your receipts could be research, getting insight from others, or some wins you've had thus far.

  4. Make the request.

    Don't hint or beat around the bush. Say what you want with confidence -- because at this point you're ready, you have your reason and you have your receipts!

  5. Follow the rule of reciprocity.

    Ask, "is there anything I can do to support you?" Support goes both ways, so remember to be available to support your team in the same way when you can. Even if they don't always express how much they appreciate it, it's good karma for you.

Whether you're asking for a raise or for support on a particular project, be clear on what you need, how the person can help you and ask with confidence.

Want to read more? Get the book!

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Elayne Fluker

Elayne Fluker is host of the Support is Sexy podcast, which has more than 800,000 downloads and counting, and features her interviews with more than 500 diverse and inspiring women entrepreneurs. Elayne is also the Founder of SiS.Academy—an online learning platform educating and empowering Black Women entrepreneurs.

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