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March 19, 2014

Asking for What You Want

Directly asking for what you want can be a difficult skill to master for many women. One of the biggest obstacles for women with this struggle is worry. Women often get caught up in worrying about whether what they’re asking for is reasonable, whether the person is likely to give them what they ask for, how the other person might respond to their request and whether or not their request is likely to upset the other person. No wonder women struggle with asking for what they want; all of these concerns would paralyze most people!

Rather than fretting over what is and is not okay to ask for or how someone may or may not respond, women will go farther by simply getting clear on what it is they want. The bottom line is: there is nothing you can’t ask for. Women, men and all fellow human beings can ask for anything as long as they understand that asking doesn’t mean they will get it. In other words, ask for anything, expect nothing. Your job, when it comes to asking for things, is to be clear about what it is you’re asking for and to ask for it respectfully and “cleanly.” Below are five tips to keep in mind when it comes to requests:
1.    Ask for what you want, not what you think you’ll get. Don’t try to figure out what the other person is willing to agree to. Instead, get clear on what it is you want. You’d be surprised how often people are willing to do more than you ever thought they would. Get out of your own way on this one and ask for your true wish.  
2.    Be concrete and clear. Know what you’re asking for and state it in concrete terms, so there is no misunderstanding. Don’t water down your request to make it more palpable. Say it straight and to the point.


3.    Be respectful. “You get more with honey than you do with vinegar” is an incredibly brilliant saying. If you want something from someone, you had better be respectful in how you ask for it...even if what you want is for the other person to treat you better. Treating someone poorly is not the way to get what you want. Keep your voice calm, your language respectful and your energy confident.
4.    Ask, don’t demand. There is a difference between a request and an ultimatum. If you are giving someone an ultimatum, be clear this is what it is. A request, on the other hand, is simply a question for something. Inherent in any request is the right for someone to say no. Be clear about whether you’re asking or demanding and why.
5.    Be grounded. Ask for what you want in a matter-of-fact voice. Don’t be wishy-washy, hesitant or meek in your request, and don’t be aggressive, demanding or reactive. Simply step in calmly, confidently and matter-of-factly with your request and then calmly wait for their reply.

It’s important to realize that when you’re asking someone for something that your work is in the asking and their work is in the receiving and answering. Don’t confuse whose work is whose. You have enough to think about just trying to get clarity on what you want and then asking for that in a clean way. Don’t also worry about how the person is going to respond. Let them worry about that.  

Challenge: If there’s something you don’t like or something you want, get clarity on what exactly that is and ask for it directly. Stay grounded in how you ask and be proud of yourself for being direct, rather than manipulative or unclear.

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