The dark side of entitlement – like trading money for college admission, claiming affluenza to avoid taking responsibility for your actions, and expecting special treatment because you have an extra-large bank account – seems to get all the attention.

But there’s a positive side to entitlement we rarely talk about.  Knowing your value as a human being or understanding what you are entitled to, greatly informs how you conduct yourself at work and in the world. Engaging the positive aspects of entitlement can help broaden your ideas about what’s available to you in any given situation and guide you when the words and actions of others aim to diminish you. A healthy sense of entitlement can also serve to protect you from victimhood. Take a look at the short list below to reacquaint yourself with the positive aspects of entitlement and how they may help you in your journey.

You are entitled to:

Be Treated with Respect

Stand in line at a grocery store for any length of time and you’re likely to see a marked difference in the way people are treated. Those who expect to be treated well, usually are treated well. Those who feel less-than-amazing often get a lower quality of service. Go out on the street and you’re likely to find those who are better dressed are treated with a bit more courtesy. Each of us is entitled to be treated with respect. Sometimes that means you have to ask for it on your own behalf and sometimes it means advocating for others. If you see people being treated poorly and you can help, please do.

The Facts

To be clear, the facts are different than what some might call the “truth”. Truth has perspective and nuance. Facts can be proven to be true or false. When you’re visiting the doctor, the car dealership, or the grocery store, you have a right to the facts. There is a science-based answer to how you can reduce your risk of diabetes or what the most recommended treatments are for a particular kind of cancer, or whether an illness is likely to be chronic. If you want those facts, ask for them. Don’t accept half-truths or pretty words when you need information to make your next move.

Ask for What you Want

Anyone can ask for a seat near the window, a glass of water without ice, or a clean fork at a restaurant, but not everyone does. If you want to dine with a view, ask for the window seat. Sure, they might tell you that table is reserved, or, you might just get what you want. You are entitled to – politely – ask for what you want. The more you flex this muscle, the stronger it gets. Knowing what you want is an elemental component of effective communication and I’m in favor of practicing this skill as often as possible.

Request Compensation

If your time has been wasted, if your order came late, if a co-worker took credit for your work, you are entitled to ask for compensation for your time, energy, and intellectual contributions. For example, I recently asked for a delivery that was mishandled to be expedited. The vendor graciously checked with their supplier as I waited. Though they couldn’t meet my request, I felt good about our interaction. They were polite and did what they could to meet my (reasonable) expectations.

None of us is required to accept poor treatment. In fact, I’d suggest each of us has a responsibility to kindly hold one another accountable for the way we engage. If you’re rude to me, overcharge me, show up late, or otherwise demean me, it’s my job as a human to raise my hand and compassionately ask for better. It helps keep us all honest and can make for a more generous world.

Talk to you next week,

Amber D. Nelson


Cover of Amber Nelson's book, "Talk to Me"

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