You want something. All kinds of things. Of course you do, and of course you should!
But if one of the things you want depends on someone else you know giving it to you, I have a question:
Have you asked them for it?
As obvious as it may sound, it’s a step people often overlook.
Salary is a perfect example. Most employed people would say they want a higher one, and many of those same people would go a step further and say that they deserve a higher one, based on the quality of work they do and the results they generate.
Yet of that group, I’m willing to bet that at least half (and I’m being conservative here) have not done the simplest thing of all. They haven’t gone into their boss’s office and asked, straight out, for a pay increase. Instead, they plod on, feeling undervalued and resentful and letting those simmering feelings seep into and contaminate not only their performance, but other areas of their life as well.
The fact is that while there are employers out there who are proactive about recognizing and rewarding talent with bonuses, raises and promotions, there are many more who are inclined to hang on to their cash and stick to the status quo as long as no one is piping up about it. It’s also true that the person who ultimately can make that decision may genuinely not realize the discrepancy between your contribution and your compensation.
The same is true for all kinds of things that top people’s professional “wants”: more flexibility, different responsibilities, more clients, more help, more time off … the list goes on.
And this issue crops up all the time in relationships, too. I wish she would X. Why can’t he be more Y? Well, hold on a second … do they know you want that from them? Much as we’d like our co-workers, friends and spouses to be mind-readers, they aren’t.
If you want what is in someone else’s power to give you, something that is reasonable and appropriate for them to give to you, then you must ASK them to do so.
If you don’t, then chances are, they won’t.
How to Successfully Ask For What You Want:
- Plan your question carefully
Don’t issue demands or deliver a litany of complaints. Instead, build a compelling and supportable case. Make sure it’s direct, specific and includes everything you want (don’t shortchange yourself!) and make sure it also offers some benefit to the other party. If you’re asking for a higher salary, mention the exact ways your contributions have benefited the company’s bottom line. If you’re an entrepreneur raising your rates or soliciting new business, highlight the qualities that distinguish you from your competitors. Help the other party to really see the value they’ll receive by giving you what you want.
- Respect your audience
Once you’ve come up with the general script of your question, imagine yourself on the receiving end of it. Think about the personality of the individual you’ll be having the conversation with, and tailor your planned phrasing, tone and demeanor accordingly. Approach them in a way that will relax them, rather than make them suspicious or defensive, and they’ll be more open to what you have to say.
- Expect to get what you want
I’ve talked about the incredible power of positive expectations before. Take some time in the days and, especially, the night before your conversation to visualize the event and firmly set your mental expectations. Heading into the interaction with a positive, confident mindset will have a dramatic impact on the way you present your question, and how it’s received.
- Be open to the unexpected
Even with plenty of advance thought and preparation on your end, you cannot predict precisely what kind of feedback you’ll get. You may hear exactly what you’re hoping to hear. You may also hear something that surprises you … pleasantly or possibly, unpleasantly. If that happens, fight the urge to react emotionally. Instead, drop your defenses and really listen to what the other person is saying. Do so with a genuine desire to learn something about yourself, your situation and the person you’re dealing with.
- Feel great about the outcome—whatever it is
Will simply asking for what you want a guarantee that you’ll get it? Not necessarily. But it WILL move you closer to getting it. Asking is an action, and action is what shrinks the distance between where you are and where you want to be. If your “big ask” doesn’t immediately bring you the result you want, it doesn’t mean you can’t have that result. It simply means you need to look elsewhere to get it. That’s great information to have, because it clarifies the next action you need to take.
Take a good look at your goals. Could any of them be achieved—or good progress made toward them—by asking someone for what you want? If so, go for it. No matter what, you shall receive!