Want to hear a story about how to ask for what you want? A few weekends ago, I was relaxing in a comfortable chair at a friend’s barbecue when my three-year-old son, Jack, came over to ask for more Doritos. The bowl he had been eating from was empty and he was anxious for it to be refilled. I pointed him in the direction of the kitchen and told him to go ask the host’s husband if he had any more. Looking slightly intimated, Jack momentarily hesitated and then, with a spring in his step, ran over to ask the man for more chips. The woman I was speaking with at the time looked over at me and said, “I don’t blame you for not wanting to get up…momma needs a break every now and then!”
I was startled at her statement, even though it made sense…I WAS very relaxed. “Oh, I don’t mind getting up,” I replied. “It’s just that I’m always looking for opportunities to encourage Jack to ask for what he wants rather than doing it for him. How many times in life have we forgone what we really want because we are too afraid to ask? I figure that teaching him to ask for small things (like Doritos) is a safe way for him to gain the confidence to go after what he wants.”
She looked at me with surprise in her eyes and then said, “You’re absolutely right. I am guilty of not asking for what I want all the time!”
How many times in life have you forgone what you really wanted because you were too afraid to ask?
I’m here to encourage you to just go for it. Ask for what you want. So what if you get a “no” in response? If you don’t ask, you’ve already told yourself “no” anyway.
Look, I get that there are all kinds of convincing reasons why you shouldn’t ask for what you want. You don’t want to seem pushy, needy, or high maintenance. You don’t want to be rejected; you’ll be embarrassed if you’re told no. You don’t want to make your boss/spouse/coworker uncomfortable or even worse, mad. You feel like what you want is obvious and that you shouldn’t HAVE to ask. Or maybe you don’t think you deserve to get what you really desire. There are a million excuses to not ask for what you want but they are just that: EXCUSES. So stop making them and start asking.
Easier said than done, right? Here’s how to ask for what you want.
1. Get Clear on What You Want
The more clarity you can have about what you want and why you want it, the easier it is to ask. Why? Because if you believe in what you are asking for, you’ll be able to better articulate it and influence the person you are asking. If you aren’t clear, do more research, dig deeper, and understand your motivations. You may get nervous asking so write it down and refer back to it during the conversation.
2. Know Who to Ask
If you ask the wrong person (or people), you’re bound to get a no. Or get a yes that can’t be delivered upon. It’s hard to ask for something over and over (you may lose steam) so know who the decision-makers are ahead of time. Also, it’s important to try to anticipate reasons why you might get a no. Think through the motivations, concerns, and roadblocks of the person you are asking, and be prepared to speak to them.
3. Think about Your Body Language
Don’t slouch, mumble, cross your arms, or look at the ground. Show confidence by sitting up straight, breathing slowly, and making eye contact. SMILE!!! You are much more likely to get what you want by putting the askee at ease with calm and collected non-verbal cues. I highly recommend doing a Power Pose in private before initiating the conversation. I promise it will help.
4. Be Direct and Specific about What You Want
Don’t beat around the bush, hem and haw, or expect people to read your mind. Define the problem, specify what you want, and outline what you think the person you are asking will have to do to fulfill your request. Then ask.
5. Always Be Gracious
Acknowledge with gratitude what the other person will have to do in order to give you a yes. Show appreciation. Be polite and cognizant of his or her time. Use positive language and refrain from giving ultimatums. Don’t beg and always say thank you with a smile.
So what do you do if you get a no?
Getting told “no” can be hard to take. You may feel a wide range of emotions and want to lash out, shut down, or give up. Don’t. Everyone gets told no. It may take some time to work through your disappointment and that’s okay. But don’t pout, get angry, or be passive-aggressive. Seek to understand why and then regroup. Come up with Plan B or even Plan C. And remember, you get the opportunity to learn more about yourself when you have to overcome challenges. Take receiving a no as a chance to grow smarter, gain experience, and become more resilient. Be grateful for all the nos you get in life.
There is such a thing as asking for too much, too often.
Don’t be that person who is ALWAYS asking for favors or who consistently takes more than his or her fair share. While it’s good to ask for what you want, people will become wary (annoyed) when you do it too often or ask for too much. That’s why it’s important to be really clear on what you want and why. Think about the reasonableness of what you are asking for and don’t just ask for the sake of asking or winning.
Life is too short to not ask for what you want. It may sound macabre to put in a blog like this but the reality is that it all could be over at any minute. So why not put it out there and ask? You might just surprise yourself and get what you ask for!
Thanks for reading and as always, I welcome (and encourage) comments, likes, and shares.
Like this? Check out my article on the importance of sharing the why.