Have you ever known someone who seems to always ‘get what they want’? They are rarely in a conversation saying, ‘Oh – I wish I could …’. To some, this looks like clean living and luck; it looks easy. I believe there is much more beneath the surface. I believe this is about identifying what you want, forming a clear and specific request, and then asking for it. By asking for what you want, upfront and clearly, you are taking a greater level of responsibility for your life.
Asking for what you want can manifest itself in any number of ways – from asking for that next salary increase, to a back rub from your significant other. For example, I get flowers from my husband whenever I want them – because I ask for them. We don’t play the game, ‘If he really loved me, he would get me flowers without my asking.’ I don’t expect him to be a mind reader; I simply ask. My husband is relieved because this also means that I don’t give him grief that he hasn’t read my mind. When I was pregnant with our identical twin boys, I told my husband that I wanted 2 dozen long stemmed roses and diamonds after delivery. As it turned out, our boys were born on Valentine’s Day, and roses were in short supply. But the day after they were born, my husband arrived at the hospital with 2 dozen coral roses and a pair of diamond earrings. My request had been very clear and he made sure that I got what I wanted.
If it really is that simple, why don’t we just ask more for what we want? There are many individual reasons – here are a few of my favorites.
- Identifying What You Actually Want! This can be very difficult. There are so many choices for everything in today’s worlds, it can be overwhelming to think about. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” It is vital to be clear and thoughtful before turning on the universe. Sometimes I have to identify what I don’t want first to help ‘sort the deck’, then I can get closer to what I do want.
- More Responsibility! We may also hesitate to ask for what we want because if we get it, we’ll have to step up our personal level of responsibility. It is a tricky thing, because getting what we want can take away our excuses – for not moving ahead, not behaving better, for not doing what we said we wanted to do, etc. We will have to take responsibility for what we get, whether it does, or does not, meet our needs – and have no one else to blame. We also have to give up the fantasy that someone else will “see what we need” and provide it. If I find I am stuck with this condition, I always have to ask myself: What am I getting by not asking for what I want?
- Not Good Enough! This one hooks a bunch of us. We actually may believe that we do not have the right to ask for what we want, and/or deserve what we are asking for. Some of this may come from how/where you were raised and the negative feedback received from requests. In my family, when you overtly asked for what you want, you were labeled a ‘pushy pants’ or a ‘Miss High and Mighty’. I remember a hearing my great aunt say, ‘Who does she think she is?’ – all implying that I didn’t have a right to ask for what I wanted. The reality was that I was just a young woman asking for what I wanted – no more, no less.
- They Won’t Give It To Me Anyway! Really? Since you haven’t asked, how do you know? Many times we fear the ‘no’ as if that is the complete end of the request and conversation. I like to think of requests as the beginning of a negotiation. The first answer might be a ‘no’, or it could be a ‘yes’, or it could be a counter proposal. One of my first managers always told me ‘no’ meant that I hadn’t made a strong enough case for my request. He later regretted that coaching after I had been in his office for the third time with an updated request. He finally said, ‘OK, OK – just don’t come back for a fourth time!’ Do not forget to tuck persistence in your pocket when you are asking for what you want.
So – take a chance, be thoughtful, and make a clear request. Take a greater level of responsibility for what you want and for your life! If you aren’t getting what you want now, you have little to lose by trying a clear request. If you hesitate – remember the reasons why we don’t ask. If you get pushback – remember it is a negotiation. And, who knows, you might just get what you have wanted all along. What a great new situation to have!!
Let us know how we can support you in determining what you want and asking for it!