There may be times in your professional career where you want to challenge a boss’ or employer’s decision. It’s hard to determine how to approach such a situation as you may worry about overstepping boundaries or jeopardizing your job. It can definitely be intimidating to speak up in the workplace but having the freedom to present your ideas, challenge decisions, and stand up for yourself is an important step to a happier, healthier, and more successful life.

Throughout your career, there will be difficult conversations that will need to be had with your employer. It will be important to recognize when you should and should not speak up. Be consistent with your conversations. You don’t want to say too much but it is important to identify the times in which your voice will benefit your organization and/or your career.

Below, you will find a few common scenarios and some things to think about when you may find yourself approaching similar conversations.

Moving up the ladder: While we all hope that “hard work pays off,” sometimes it is necessary to speak up in order to accelerate your career. Speaking up can show that you are confident and ready to take on more responsibility. Voicing your opinion and challenging status quo can also help build your personal brand and garner respect from leadership.

Make sure these conversations are approached delicately and thoughtfully. You should be prepared to answer questions about the reasons why you think you deserve a raise or promotion and be specific about your ask. Address the concerns your manager may have and answer with constructed responses that defend your stance.

Remember, if the conversation is approached appropriately, the worst your boss can say is ‘no’ and in that case you’re no worse off than you were before. Plus, you can go to sleep that night knowing you spoke up for yourself!

Pitching a brilliant idea: You wake up each morning bright-eyed and full of great ideas. Those ideas deserve to be heard, no matter your job title. Do not let your place on the totem pole intimidate you. By speaking up in a meeting and expressing your thoughts on how to attract more customers, solve a problem, or start an awesome new project, you are letting your talent be seen and opening yourself up to more potential opportunities!

If you come up with a great idea, schedule a meeting with your boss or manager, respectfully point out how your idea could help the company, and follow it up with strategic questions and how you think it can be solved as a team. This shows a great level of independence, hard work, and self-discipline while also empowering your colleagues.

Respect: If you are ever in a situation where you feel uncomfortable, it is important to speak up. Depending on the situation, you may want to speak directly to your boss or human resources. Even if you think to yourself, “It’s probably nothing, everything is fine,” it is best to address the concern up front to ensure it does not happen again.

It is so important for you to take initiative in protecting yourself because you are your own best advocate. Be careful of your tone but do not let your fear get in the way of speaking up for your own wellbeing!

You have the freedom to speak out about things that matter to you and speaking up is the first step towards a goal-driven future.  It’s your time to shine. Build up some confidence and take the professional world by storm!