Asking for What You Want

Do you ask for what you want? In business? In your friendships? Partnerships? Even with your children?

Many people, especially women, hesitate to really ask for what they want, honestly and openly. Why? Because it’s often perceived or labeled as being “selfish”, “demanding”, or, if you are a woman, “aggressive”.

When I was first starting out in my career, I realized pretty quickly that I wanted to move up in the company, move into management. So, when I had an opportunity to discuss my career with my boss’s boss, I told him. I told him that I’d like my boss’s job – when she moved onto something else, of course – or a different position in management. He was very receptive, very encouraging. He gave me good advice on how to prepare.

However, when I told my father what I had done, he was appalled! “You can’t do that,” he said firmly. “You’ll make people uncomfortable. They’ll think you are being pushy.”

I was shocked. Why shouldn’t I ask for what I want? How else would I get it? If no one knows what I want, how can they help? How could they possibly give it to me?

Thankfully, I listened to my boss’s boss and not my father, and eventually, he became my direct supervisor. Throughout my career, I would ask him when I wanted something new or different, when I wanted to take on more responsibility or help out with a different project. Did I always get what I wanted? No, of course not. But I often did. Not immediately, but eventually. It made my relationship with my boss a lot easier. He knew what I wanted, so he could plan accordingly – if it made sense for the organization.

When I married my husband, I made the same arrangement with him. I promised him that he would never have to guess what I wanted, that I would never expect him to read my mind. And I’ve kept that promise. And, it certainly makes a lot of things easier in that relationship, too.

But I still see people, most often women, who hesitate to ask for what they want. They don’t want to make people uncomfortable. They want to be “nice”.

Guess what, it’s not nice to expect people to read your mind. And, it’s really not nice when you demand things from people, when you are unreasonable or entitled.

But there’s nothing wrong with letting people know what you want or need, especially if they are in a position to possibly help you. There’s nothing wrong with asking, especially when you are willing to return the favor or are gracious when they say no.

Ask and you shall receive. But it’s kind of hard to receive if no one knows what you want.

So, I’ll tell you what I want!

I want to help you – or a female leader you know – who wants to get better at asking for what they want, who wants to contribute at a higher level, who wants to up-level their leadership and their career. I want to use my coaching skills to make a difference in more women’s lives.

What do you want? Who are you going to tell today?

I’d love to chat with you about it!


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