Boundaries, Feedback, and Resilience: Three Tools to Advance Professional Self-Empowerment

Abstract: To be a successful professional, you need more than knowledge or technical skills. You also need to practice self-empowerment so you can overcome obstacles and preserve. In this workshop, we will explore three self-empowerment tools and learn how to apply them to various work situations. Join us as we explore the role of boundaries, giving and receiving feedback, as well as resilience​in the workplace. Led by three professionals, this workshop will contain explanations and applied strategies so you can leave the workshop ready to apply these tools to your own career.

Summary: Employees who work for the government often receive professional development that focuses on technical skills needed to be successful at work. This can include training on new technologies or new policies that will be implemented. While technical skills are vital to the success of government employees, there is another set of skills that are invaluable to supporting individuals as the navigate challenges, changes, and uncertainty. This other set of skills focus on cultivating professional self-empowerment, or the ability to retain control of goal setting, decision making, and positivity.

In this workshop, we will explore professional self-development broadly and then share three specific tools professionals can use at work. The three tools are boundaries, sharing and giv​ing feedback, as well as resilience. We describe each of these tools below.

​Setting boundaries is hugely important for employees and workplace outcomes. In this workshop, we will explore how personal, legal, ethical, or organizational boundaries can be used to maintain a safe environment for each other. If you have a strong mind, confident and clear goals that are reinforced with boundaries, the entire workplace becomes more efficient, effective and individuals are able to control stress. Moreover, boundaries help stay us focused on our values, standards, and identities.

Sharing and giving feedback. ​
Giving and receiving feedback can feel stressful for many professionals due to fears of criticism or being worried about hurting the feelings of others. But feedback is an essential tool for self-empowerment. In this workshop, we will explain how to see feedback as a positive workplace experience and an opportunity for self-advocacy. Feedback is an opportunity for us to share, motivate, and connect with others at work.

​Every workplace is filled with challenges. Responding to these challenges can be stressful or viewed as an opportunity to practice resilience. In this workshop, we will explore how resilience is a tool that helps us recover from stress and preserve through obstacles. We will share how resilience helps us learn new skills, expand our capacity to handle stress, and protect ourselves from various mental health conditions resulting from difficult situations. Focusing on self-empowerment is vitally important for all government employees, but especially for employees who are Deaf. Drawing on information from Deaf Gain (Bowman and Murray, 2014) and the strengths of the Deaf community experience, this workshop will explore how self-empowerment is a skill that is already practiced by the Deaf community. In this way, we believe our proposal aligns with the conference theme, The Power of You, because each individual already has the power to be effective at self-empowerment. Starting with an overview of professional self-empowerment, the presenters will first explore the meaning of the three tools and provide three stories of their own personal experiences at work when they needed these skills. The workshop will then explore each of the three tools in depth along with reflective discussion questions to facilitate an engaging conversation with audience members.

Workshop Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the characteristics of three tools that Deaf professionals can use to achieve self-empowerment including: boundaries, sharing and giving feedback, as well as resilience.
  2. Compare and contrast the goals of the three self-empowerment tools (i.e. boundaries, sharing and giving feedback, and resilience) in the workplace.
  3. Apply the three self-empowerment tools (i.e., boundaries, sharing and giving feedback, and resilience) to various workplace situations.