Ever find yourself feeling resentful, overwhelmed, under appreciated, frustrated, and wishing people would stop doing something you don’t like, or start doing something you do? Ever feel like people aren’t valuing you, your time, your contribution, or your opinion highly enough?
Of course you do. Who doesn’t?!
The reality is that other people will rarely care as much about our needs, preferences and desires as we do. And yet, when when those needs, preferences and desires aren’t being met or fulfilled we often fail to engage in the conversations needed to seek the changes we want.
Maybe it’s your boss who has unreasonable expectations, or a co-worker who’s over-stepped your boundaries. Perhaps it’s your spouse who seems oblivious to your efforts on the home front. Whatever the case, feelings of overwhelm, frustration and resentment are generally the symptoms of a lack of requests. So if you are have found yourself wrestling with any of those emotions, chances are you aren’t asking enough of those around you (or are asking ineffectually.) When you get clear about what you want and need, and become brave enough to ask for it, you will spare yourself a lot of emotional churn and expand your capacity to accomplish more.
Here are 7 keys to fulfil your wants and better handle those situations (and people) that weigh you down.
1. Don’t assume others are mind readers
Complaining about your problems doesn’t solve them. Whining about unmet needs won’t fulfill them. Whether you want your colleague to communicate with you more often about a team project, or put your forward for a more senior role, it’s crucial to be assertive in conveying what you want. We often assume our spouses, bosses, work colleagues and even our good friends can read our minds. So when they don’t act as we’d like, we wind up hurt and upset. For any relationship to thrive, both parties have to take responsibility for clearly communicating their needs.
2. Be bold in what you ask for (don’t dilute!)
The reality is you will rarely, if ever, be given more than what you have the courage to ask for. So don’t dilute your requests in order to minimize the possibility of being turned down. As I suggested in Stop Playing Safe, “Think about what your ideal outcome would be and then confidently, courageously, ask for it. Not in an entitled way. Not in an aggressive way. But in a way that conveys that you know your worth.” While you may not always get what you want (whether it be a pay raise or the corner office) you will nearly always end up with more than you would have received otherwise had you not been bold in your request.
3. Be specific about what you want and when you want it
In the workplace, the biggest reason for unmet expectations is a lack of understanding of exactly what was expected. Asking someone to do something “soon” can be interpreted in all sorts of ways. For a request to hold any water it needs to specify not just “what” you’d like, but also the time frame in which you want it. That is, both a clear and unambiguous “what” and “when.” For example, “Could you please get the monthly sales report to me by 2pm Friday?” It’s unreasonable to expect to get what you want if people aren’t clear about what that is.
4. Be clear about what you won’t tolerate
It’s a rule of life that you get what you tolerate. Making requests will go a long way to eliminating the ‘tolerations’ in your life. Whether it’s asking a team member to show up on time or asking your colleague to stop making sexist jokes. Every day, through what you say and do, you teach others how to treat you. If you allow others to take you for granted, to overstep your personal boundaries, or to be outright disrespectful, you are complicit in it. Letting others know what you expect from them as well as what you will (and will not) tolerate is crucial to both your professional success and personal well being. So ask yourself, what are you no longer willing to tolerate? Therein lies the boundary that you alone must set and the requests you alone must make.
5. Forget hints – be direct
If you like to take the less confrontational (and often, more cowardly) route of dropping hints to get others to behave differently, I have bad news for you: hints just don’t cut it. If you don’t want to be ignored, you have to be direct and explicit! Making a general comment to a group of people, “It would be great if people around here would get to meetings on time” is passive and pathetic. Rather speak directly to the serial late-comer, let them know you find it disrespectful of everyone’s time, and ask them if they are both willing and able to commit to being punctual in the future. If they’re not, then clearly more conversations are needed to address underlying issues, but at least now the issue is on the table and you know where things stand. Same for any situation that causes you frustration – be direct.
6. Ditch the martyr act
I’m going to go out on a limb here – but it’s my humble opinion that this point is more for women than for men. As a mother of four children, big sister of seven and friend of many, I’ve found we of the female variety have a greater tendency to feel guilty when we put our needs ahead of others (family pets included.) But when we get caught in the trap of trying to be all things to all people, we can quickly find ourselves falling short on all fronts, and winding up resentful, burnt out and not being the person we want to be for anyone – much less for ourselves. Who’s that serving?! The more requests being made of you, the more you need to make of others. Moving your own needs higher your priority list is therefore not selfish, it’s smart. So enough with the guilt driven martyr act. Your needs matter too.
7. Don’t make ‘no’ mean more than it does
Let’s face it, you won’t always get what you ask for. Your boss won’t always give you the promotion you’d like and your parents may not agree to mind your three kids every second weekend. Such is life. When people say no, don’t treat it as a personal rejection – accept it graciously and move on. At least now you know where things stand and you can plan accordingly.
Asking for less than you really want – from yourself, from others and from life – doesn’t serve anyone. So I dare you – try asking for what you really want. Who knows… you might just get it!
It can be tough to ask for what you want, but the only way to guarantee you WON’T get it is to never mention it at all. Here, ClassPass shares the low down on how to speak up about what you really want—and actually get it.
While many people would happily campaign for something on behalf of a friend or loved one, they may have a hard time asking for things for themselves. We’re taught when we’re little that asking for too much is a surefire way to lose friends and damage our reputation. The nagging partner, the annoying employee—they’re almost like fairytale characters warning us not to be too demanding of those around us. No wonder we find ourselves adrift in adulthood with intense anxiety surrounding asking for change.
Standing up for what you need can be challenging. Even the thought of asking can be nerve-wracking, most often because we immediately jump to the “what if” consequences of such a request:
“If I ask for a raise, I might just get fired.”
“If I ask to take our relationship to the next level, he’ll freak out and break up with me.”
“If I ask her to be less self-interested when we hang out, it’ll end our friendship.”
So we don’t ask. The situation continues and worsens. We grow more and more frustrated and find ourselves steeped in resentment, feelings of being undervalued or taken advantage of, and worried our relationships could fall apart at any moment. We get into arguments. We create grudges. We explosively quit our jobs.
It would be so much easier to preemptively address these issues, or at least address them before they blow up, by bringing them to the attention of the other interested parties in a way that is productive, respectful and positive. That is to say, more likely to elicit the response we desire. Here’s how to ask for what you want and need without burning bridges.
1. Acknowledge you will need to communicate.
At the heart of most interpersonal frustration is a lack of clear communication, particularly in instances where one party feels unheard or unvalued by the other. We can’t assume our bosses, partners or friends know what we’re thinking, and if we don’t get the message across succinctly, we can’t expect them to change their behavior or provide us with something we need. You will need to say something—and yes, face-to-face is probably going to yield better results than a text or a haphazard email.
2. Plan a specific time to make your request.
Casually yelling after your boss as they get off the elevator isn’t an effective way to communicate what you need. Ask for a meeting at their convenience, or set up a walk-and-talk with a friend by introducing the idea broadly: “I’d love to chat about the projects coming up” ** or “I would love to take you for coffee to chat about what happened last week.” ** Putting it on the books gives you time to prepare and increases the likelihood that the other person will be in a receptive headspace.
3. Figure out why you’re asking before you ask.
Deep down, what are you asking for? Chances are, it’s not something outrageous. If you’re hoping to be looped into more project planning conversations at work, perhaps you’re looking to feel more utilized and valued within your team. If you’re hoping your partner will spend more time talking to you than looking at their iPhone in the evening, perhaps you’re looking to feel more connected with that person. As with any goal, having a clear motivation is essential to seeing it play out as you wish.
It’s really quite simple.
A few months ago, I wrote a piece including what I thought was a commonsense piece of advice:
Ask for what you want — exactly what you want, not a bastardized or more acceptable version of it — and negotiate until you get it.
The overwhelming response to that particular — commonsense — line was “Wow!” and “How?”
#1 Have a clear and simple ask
I recently watched an interview with comedian, actor, and political commentator, D.L. Hughley. He was asked how he felt about recent calls for the Black community to withhold votes in the upcoming election. The basic idea being that as a community there’d be more leverage if we force political candidates to set a “Black Agenda” before agreeing to vote for them.
Hughley swiftly pointed out that the flaw in this thinking is that the Black community is not currently a monolith and has not agreed on a collective agenda to push forth. Therefore, there has been no clear ask made. You cannot then dangle your vote like a carrot if you haven’t set out a clear and simple ask for the candidate to earn it.
He pointed out that in the 1960s civil rights movement there was indeed a mutually agreed upon collective agenda — an ask — that consisted of basic human rights. The civil rights agenda was clearly spelled out, easily articulated, and easy to understand:
The Goal: Equal civil liberties for all citizens.
The How: The passing of several laws including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that tackled desegregation, workplace discrimination, and voter registration.
The When: Immediately
The same MUST be true of any ask you are making.
- What is your ultimate goal?
2. How do you expect the recipient of your ask to help you get there?
3. What is the timeline for the change or result you want?
You have to be able to CLEARLY articulate the answers to these questions in the simplest way possible to whomever you are asking.
#2 Get into the right room
This step is two-fold:
- Make a plan: there are stages in goal making. Those stages require planning.
- Time and place are important: the right room at the wrong time is the wrong room and the wrong room is useless.
You have to be clear about the steps involved in reaching your goal. Whatever your ultimate goal is, there are skills and people that you are going to need to achieve it.
For example, in the Civil Rights Movement, one of the key steps in achieving equality was to bring awareness to the gross injustices that were taking place at the time. This was done on several fronts, using the human resources of organizations like NAACP, SNCC, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and others to highlight the egregious nature of Jim Crow through a legal strategy (lawsuits), a public relations plan (public marches, speeches, and sit-ins), and a political strategy (aligning themselves with key politicians through the pressure applied via the other two strategies).
There were human and institutional resources that the movement had to be aligned with in order to make an impactful ask. They had a plan and used it to get into the right rooms. The right rooms being the Supreme Court of the United States, the congressional houses, and the Oval office at a time when racial tension was at a boiling point.
Making your ask in the wrong room(s) or at the wrong time is a surefire way to not get what you want.
Who do you need to be in close proximity to? What room(s) do you need to be in to make your ask worthwhile?
#3 Set clear boundaries
This is the simplest bit, what will you accept and what won’t you accept?
Had Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement accepted a more souped-up version separate but equal, where would the Black community be right now?
Full integration of society was the ultimate goal and the leaders of the movement did not bend on that point. Perhaps, they accepted a slower rollout of the appropriate legislation, federal, and local policies than they would’ve liked. However, if integration was off of the table, they would’ve — and I assume did at many points — left the table.
What is your unbendable point?
What might you be willing to compromise on?
#4 Define best-case, worst-case, YOUR case
Before entering ANY negotiation, you must have the best AND worst-case scenarios in mind. You don’t share your worst-case with anyone unless it looks like you won’t get your best-case.
Pro tip: Your best-case should be your reach goal and your worst-case, your actual goal.
For example, if you want to make $60k, go into negotiations asking for $65k or $70k which leaves room for them to “talk you down.” If they do attempt to talk you down, it will appear as though they won. When in fact, you would’ve walked away with exactly what you wanted.
#5 Have a walk-away spirit
Baptize yourself in the holy spirit of the walk-away.
If a negotiation violates your unbendable point, walk-away.
If your worst-case scenario is too rich for their blood, walk away.
If the tone and spirit of the negotiation don’t sit right with you, walk away.
Your time and energy are valuable, don’t waste them entertaining spaces, places, people, and offers that do not value you.
BONUS: #6 If you cannot find it, create it
The major thing that hinders most people from being truly successful at getting what they want is that they feel beholden to the idea that someone else has to provide it.
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself for what you want.
If your goal is to make $60k, make a list of all of the things you could possibly do to make that a reality. Leave winning the lottery off of the list.
What are your top three skills?
How could you leverage them to earn what you want?
For example, I am a visual artist, writer, and facilitator.
My average painting sells for about $1500–2k USD. If I sell 10 paintings for the year, that would put me at 1/3 of the $60k goal.
I make on average $500 a month on Medium and earn an additional $500 a month from my children’s books revenue as a writer. Over the course of a year that’s just $12k, so to earn a little more writing, I could increase my output on Medium and more aggressively market my children’s books to bolster my revenue in this area to at least $2k per month.
My day rate for facilitation is $1,000 USD. If I facilitate 20 days for the year that would make up the rest of the $60k goal.
You could also decide to just go full-throttle on one of your skills. There is something to be said for a singleminded focus.
I could aim to sell 30 paintings for the year, triple down on my writing goals, or simply facilitate 60 days for the year.
Assigning a clear value to your time and skills make achieving your goals much more attainable.
Not all goals are monetary but you can use this same model to set goals that account for and leverage your valuable assets and/or resources for the completion of your goal.
Ultimately, asking for what you want and getting it boils down to understanding the old adage closed mouths don’t get fed.
The simple act of asking — be it yourself or someone else — makes it 100% more likely to occur.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get” — Stevie Wonder
These 5 tips will help you broach the topic so your partner is most receptive.
Whether you’re dating someone new or you’ve been married for 20 years and are just now feeling liberated (maybe it’s the 50 Shades of Grey talking?), telling your partner that you’d like to try something different in the bedroom isn’t always an easy task. You may be worried that he or she will be offended, or you’re not sure when (or how) to bring it up. Or maybe you just feel too shy to put your fantasies into words.
But expressing yourself about sex doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or embarrassing, says Ava Cadell, PhD, certified sex counselor and founder of Sexpert.com. In fact, it’s an excellent opportunity for you and your main squeeze to learn more about each other and grow even closer, whether you’re simply looking for more cuddling or want to try something a bit more unconventional or risqué.
Here’s how to broach the topic so your partner is most receptive, and so you both come away satisfied.
Ask during foreplay
Don’t wait until you’re in the heat of the moment to spring something new and different on your partner; it may catch them off-guard and ruin the mood, says Cadell. On the other hand, don’t bring it up out of the blue when their mind is probably focused on other things besides sex, either.
“You want to do it when he or she is listening and open to suggestions, and foreplay is the perfect time for that,” she says. Foreplay doesn’t have to mean only the moments immediately before sex, either. “Bring it up over a romantic dinner, when you’re kissing, or even when you’re in the car on your way to a romantic weekend or on the way home from the movies.”
Make it a game
If you’re worried about flat-out asking your partner to do something differently, turn it around and offer to change something up yourself first. “I tell my clients to play a multiple-choice game,” says Cadell. “The woman gives her husband three choices for something they can try in bed that night—maybe she gives him a lap dance, they use a new prop, or they try a new position—and he picks the one he wants.”
Afterward, if all goes well, the woman tells her partner it’s his turn to offer a multiple-choice scenario, and she can guide his actions from there. “It’s a fun way to bring up the conversation where it’s playful and low-pressure, so it’s a win-win for both parties involved.”
Have a guide
It can help to have visual aids or written descriptions of new positions or sexual activities you’d like to try, especially if you’re not super comfortable talking about them yourselves. That could be an erotic novel, a sex scene from a movie, or a literal instruction manual, like Cadell’s new book Idiot’s Guides: Kama Sutra ($16, amazon.com).
Having a guide can also make bringing up the topic a bit easier: “You can say to your husband, ‘I stumbled across this interesting thing today and I thought it sounded fun; maybe we could give it a try tonight,'” says Cadell. You could even browse sexy videos online together, and talk about things you’d both like to fantasize about or perhaps try in person.
You might also consider bringing a third person into your relationship—although not in the way you might think. Visiting a sex counselor together might help you open up with one another and express your true desires. Find one through the American College of Sexologists’ searchable directory, or consider asking your primary care doctor or gynecologist for a recommendation.
Frame it with compliments
Chances are, your partner will be intrigued by any ideas you have about changing things up between the sheets, but it’s easy to worry that he or she might be intimidated or even insulted, instead. One way to prevent that, says Cadell, is to be sure you’re also showering him or her with plenty of praise for what you love about them sexually, as well.
“Tell him he’s the best lover you’ve ever had and that you fantasize about him when he’s not there—anything to boost his ego so he’s feeling confident in his abilities,” she says. (The same goes for making women feel good about themselves, too.) When your partner’s on the right track, let him or her know you’d like more where that came from, rather than focusing on what you haven’t loved in the past.
Reflect together afterward
Once you do try something totally new in bed, you may feel vulnerable afterward—even if the experience is overwhelmingly positive. That’s what makes post-coital time so important for letting each other know, openly and honestly, how you felt about it. This activity can bring you and your partner closer together, says Cadell, and can set the stage for future sexual encounters.
Talking openly about sex can also help you become more comfortable with it and overcome any negative associations, Cadell says. “A lot of women especially suffer from guilt and shame from enjoying certain kinds of sex, and I think the only way to get over that is to keep doing it,” she says. “Know that you’re worthy of pleasure and that you’re empowered, and if it makes you and your partner happy, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s bad.”
This writer’s story of sexual awakening—and the aha! moment of finding equal pleasure in bed—just might inspire you to seek more out of your own sex life.
I was late to the party when it came to being confident in bed. When I lost my virginity at 18 on the bottom bunk of a dorm room with my college boyfriend, my first thought was, “is that all there is?” I know I wasn’t the first, nor will I be the last to have such a thought after having sex for the first time.
So when my college friends raved about all the great sex they were having and how they had orgasms every time—to this day, I highly doubt the reality of this—I said the same. John is so good in bed too! If someone were to ask me why or how or what made him so good in bed, I wouldn’t have been able to give the details. At the time, I didn’t know what was good and what wasn’t. All I did know was that my boyfriend would crawl into bed with me, stick it in, and a few pumps later, he’d be done, and I’d be thinking about all the other things I could have done that would have been far more exciting.
Despite the fact that my mother is Catholic, sex was never a taboo subject in our family. Hell, I grew up to be a full-time sex writer! But that career didn’t kick in until my early 30s—I spent all of my 20s thinking I was having great sex when it was anything but that. Of course, there were a couple of lovers and flings who gave a damn about whether or not I was actually enjoying myself, but for the most part, my “oohs” and “ahhs” were for dramatic effect only. If I wanted to have a real “ooh” and “ahh” I had to do it myself.
It never once occurred to me to tell my partner what I wanted. It never even popped into my brain to tell my partner that my clit was two inches to the north and all that wet lapping at my vulva was doing nothing for me. I was never taught that I actually had to ask for these things in order to receive them. Sex education doesn’t cover that, and neither do the movies. And while my mom sat my sister and I down and told us what sex was, she never once told me that I needed to be vocal when it came to having enjoyable sex. Frankly, like most gender-related things in life, I found sex to be unfair.
It wasn’t until I met a partner who wanted me to tell him what I wanted that I started to open up. Although I struggled with the words—always feeling like I was putting myself on display or opening up myself to criticism—I pushed through it and told him. I told him every time. I started to realize that men aren’t mind-readers (bingo!) and, to no one’s surprise, because they don’t have the same anatomy, they can’t entirely be expected to know what’s going on down there without guidance.
Sure, there are men who’ve gone out of their way to learn about the female anatomy so they can learn how to pleasure a woman, but those men are few and far between. Instead, far too many men, at least in my experience, have turned to porn for lessons in how to please a woman—the last place anyone should go for lessons in how to have equally pleasurable sex. Ultimately, that’s what this revelation finally came down to: equality. Not only do women have to fight for equality in all realms of our lives, but we need have to fight for it in bed. It was that a ha! moment that changed everything.
Although I’ve never been entirely comfortable with my body, once I realized sexual confidence had less to do with my body and everything to do with my thought process, things changed for me. I no longer took a backseat to my sex life. I no longer faked all the “oohs” and “ahhs,” and finally gave direction when necessary.
If I couldn’t close the gender pay gap, I sure as hell was going to close the orgasm gap in my sex life.
Initially, it wasn’t easy. It’s rarely easy to tell someone you want something different than what they’re doing or that, maybe, they’re doing something “wrong.” (And, yes, men can be straight-up wrong when trying to locate different parts of the female anatomy—if we had a few days, oh, the stories I could share!) Although I knew I was taking a risk, it had to be done; some men (read: many) needed direction. I found that nine times out of ten, whether they were one-night stands or someone I was dating that eventually led to a relationship, my partners were open and willing to hear what I had to say. Those men who weren’t—the men who thought they were some sort of Don Juan in the sack, insisting they didn’t need direction—were just proving themselves a wrong match for me.
Great sex requires a healthy, non-judgmental dialogue; not one partner totally shutting down at a friendly suggestion. I found a simple, “a little bit to the right, a little slower, or a little harder,” worked as both stepping stones and conversation starters in which we, both my partner and I, could learn from each other.
Now, whenever I have sex, I demand that I orgasm. Whether that means me having to add a sex toy to the equation or giving a detailed explainer to my partner on the female anatomy, he’s not going to be the only one walking out of the room having had an orgasm. I know, as both a woman and sex writer, that the orgasm doesn’t always have to be the end goal and it’s the journey and all the other stuff along the way that makes sex so enjoyable—but when it does come to orgasm, we’re both having one or neither one of us is having one. Fair is fair, and equality is paramount.
Teens, listen up!
No matter who your parents are, there are a few things that you can do to drastically increase the chance of having them say “YES” rather then “NO.” Drastically!
Parents love to pretend they are cool and collected, but in reality, they are very predictable.
So much so that I guarantee that if you read the tips below, you can improve your life in several ways! Your parents will allow you to do more, trust you more and be more willing to see life from your perspective.
Try the tips below and let me know how they work out!
1. Ask with gratitude, show appreciation!
Nothing gets you a faster “No” from parents than giving them a feeling that they owe you or that you “deserve” things. Sure, they are responsible for your well-being and all that, but this is not an exercise in fairness. It’s about getting what you want.
So, when you ask for something, use an equal amount of gratitude and an equal amount of asking. Saying, “Dad, can I have an Electric Guitar?”, is a recipe for a dry, speedy and disappointing “No.” Instead, try this: “Dad, I know you buy me expensive stuff sometimes that you work really hard for. This is really great, thank you.” Whatever follows that will be much better received.
The point is not to trick your parents into thinking you care; the point is that appreciation spreads good will, which will certainly come back to you.
2. Trade what you want for what you can do
You may ask: “What can I possibly offer my parents? They hold all the cards!” Not true at all! Your parents care about one thing (having to do with you) almost more than anything: Your growing up into a responsible, happy adult. Any way you can show them that you are moving in the right direction will help your case endlessly.
So, when asking for something, also offer something in return. Two things you can always offer are doing specific chores and getting better grades in specific topics.
Being specific is important because that way, the results can be measured. Saying, “I’ll get better grades,” is one thing, but it’s much better to say, “I’ll get better grades in History.” You also actually have to mean it and do your part. Otherwise, your promise can have the opposite effect.
3. Make them look good
One thing your parents care about, whether they admit it or not, is how they appear to others. Adults often feel judged about their parenting skills, and any way you can help them to feel confident as parents is a good thing.
So, when hanging around your parents in public, put your grown-up pants on. Make polite conversation with their friends. Answer their redundant questions as interestingly as possible. Contribute to the social scene. Believe me — proud parents’ hearts and wallets are much more likely to be open to your requests.
4. Match funds
“Mom, I really need a new pair of jeans. I tried them on at the mall. They cost $70, but I don’t have that much money. If I pay for half of them with my babysitting money, can you contribute the rest?”
This request sounds appreciative, responsible and like you’re a kid that knows the value of money. Mom will probably buy it for you outright!
5. Earn credit, slowly
When you want Mom or Dad to buy you something small, then just go ahead and ask. But for the bigger things — a car, MacBook Air, Nikon DSLR, etc. — a more deliberate approach and sometimes patience is needed.
The main thing you will need to prove to them is that you’re mature enough to deserve that thing you want. Don’t ask me why, but it does appear to be the case.
Figure out small things that will make you seem more responsible and do them. Offer to take on small responsibilities and always do what you said you would do and a tiny bit more.
If you show that you want to contribute to the family and don’t resent your responsibilities, you will start to be seen in a whole different light — a more grown-up light. When that happens, asking for things will have a much higher rate of success.
6. Be part of the solution, not the problem
We all feel mistreated and deserving of more sometimes. Sometimes we really are. However, being mature sometimes means being happy with what we have! Many adults don’t seem to get this idea, BTW.
So, lower the rate of drama. Don’t cite unfairness towards you unless it’s blatant. When a sibling starts something, be the mature one and let it go. All this builds confidence and credit. And it helps build a platform for the eventual “Sure, I’ll get that for you.”
7. Ask for delayed response
When they’re pressed into a corner, or when they feel rushed, parents are much more likely to say “No” rather than “Yes.”
So, start any big requests with something like this: “Dad, don’t say yes or no right now. I want you to think about it before answering.”
This will give Dad (or Mom) time to consider what you want, and also make you look more mature by showing that you are patient enough to wait a day for the reply.
8. Stage your requests carefully
Setting the stage for any question you want to pop is a key to increasing the odds for “Yes”! Follow these rules for shifting things in your favor:
-Make sure the person you’re asking is in a good mood. Stressed parent = “No!”
-Make sure they have time: “Mom, do you have a minute?”
9. “No” doesn’t always mean no
So you asked for something and they said no. This is not perfect, but it’s not the end of the world, either.
Figure out why! Figure out the reason they turned you down and then ask what you have to do to make it a “Yes.” If you get a general, unhelpful response, dig further: “OK, you want me to be more mature. I want that too. How can I show you that?”
Your persistence will most likely not be annoying or be regarded as questioning your parent’s authority; It will actually be seen as an adult way of taking responsibility and going after what you want.
10. Remember: Your parents want to give you things!
Yes, they do! Your parents love you and look for opportunities to make your life better. They need to feel that you appreciate and deserve what you get. Learn how to ask and you will be rewarded.
For more tips, get three chapters of my upcoming book, How to Get Your Parents to Agree with You on Almost Everything, free!
Identify it. Chances are you already know your want. Make sure there isn’t an underlying want that you are overlooking. If it is just surface level that is one thing, but if there are layers to it, you want to make sure to attack it all, not just the bare minimum.
Find the “why”. Whether it is you deserve to be compensated fairly for your work or you just need help around the house. Knowing the why behind your want identifies the root need and will often motivate you to get your want.
Create the request. You know what you want, so how are you going to get it? Discover your actual request. You need help around the house? Your request might be that you and your roommate(s) spend 15 minutes each night tidying up before bed. You also might present an option for a cleaning service to come once a month. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it isn’t always!! You don’t want to present a problem without determining the proper request.
Discover benefits. This is especially helpful if you are talking to an employer. Obviously, how does it benefit you, but how does it benefit others / THEM? For example, are you asking to be able to work from home once a week? This would make you less stressed and cause less burnout, in turn producing better work for them. This will help you ask for something reasonable. Asking for something like doubling your salary and only referencing why you need it without ways that you’ve earned it likely will not go over well. When you hash this section out, hopefully you’ll get rid of reasons that don’t help your case. For example if it is money you are after, saying that you need more money or can’t afford your rent, that isn’t going to get you what you want. Sure you may need more money to pay your rent, but unless you are underpaid or have done work warranting a raise, you probably aren’t going to get that. Your “why” can be that you need money to pay your rent, but that shouldn’t be communicated as a determining factor to your employer. Be sure to show off what you have done and how you have helped benefit the company and therefore deserve a compensation adjustment!
Talk it out. I’m very pro “talking to yourself”. Let’s call it “talking out-loud” 😉 This helps you work your phrases and get comfortable asking for things! Chances are you might get nervous, but if you practice what you are going to say it will likely be easier.
Be direct. Again, this doesn’t mean to be mean or pointed with your words. It simply means don’t be passive. State your exact request and get what you want!!
Kill them with kindness. I wanted to reiterate this. Be nice!
Give supporting and relevant details. I briefly mentioned this in the “discover the benefits” section above, but make sure you come prepared with facts to back up your want! FOR SURE if you are asking for a raise, but you can also do this in the household. Nick has been hinting at a wanting a new computer and I straight up told him – okay, put a presentation together for me with all the details, supporting facts, pros, and cons and let’s talk about it! When you present all the details, you are more likely to get what you are asking for, or at least come to an understanding.
Get to it friend! You are worth asking for whatever it is you need! Plus what is the worst someone can say? No? You never know what can happen and just might be surprised!! Gotta risk it to get the biscuit. Now go get what you want!
It’s been nearly 10 years since Sara Laschever and Linda Babcock launched a new phase of the women’s movement with their groundbreaking book, Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide.
The authors proclaimed that women lagged behind their male colleagues in salaries, bonuses, promotions, and perks simply because they hadn’t “asked for it.” They were right.
They were also right in their judgment that women didn’t like to ask—and weren’t going to start asking anytime soon.
And that shouldn’t have been a surprise to any of us.
Not only has our culture instilled in women a disinclination to be self-serving, when we do work up the nerve to ask, we’re likely to experience “gender blow-back”—a subtle but powerful punishment for stepping outside our cultural gender role.
Take this example: Several years ago, I was the lead partner supervising a staff of five attorneys and two paralegals in a quarter billion dollar antitrust action, and was sitting in on my compensation committee meeting.
After reminding the committee members of the scope of my responsibilities and the considerable accomplishments my team had achieved that year, the managing partner asked me what I expected my salary to be in the coming year.
Not yet being a skilled negotiator, and not wanting to seem self-serving, I said that I believed I should be compensated in a sum that reflected the extent of my responsibilities and the amount of money I’d brought into the firm.
The managing partner’s eyes grew wide. He shook his head incredulously and said, “if we did that, you’d be making as much as I am.”
I knew there were other metrics to consider—his job included business development and participation in firm governance, neither of which were my strong suits. But I didn’t want to appear uncertain. So I responded by saying that if we were doing the same work and bringing in the same amount of money, my compensation should be similar to his.
Several months later, as I was taking my leave from that law firm, the managing partner told me that he’d never felt so insulted in his entire legal career as that day, when I’d said I should be paid as well as he was being paid.
As my experience showed, women suffer economically because we fail to ask, but we’re punished for our nerve when we do ask. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, right?
No, we’re not. There’s another solution.
What we need to do is learn to powerfully ask for our true market value. We can do that by starting the conversation with offers of benefits rather than requests. Or we can courageously cross that gender boundary and bring those angered by the “gall” of our asking back into a collaborative negotiation. And we can do it in a manner that doesn’t leave anyone insulted or undercompensated.
Here’s the process in a nutshell.
1. Learn Your True Market Value
Women tend to underestimate our worth for many reasons, including the simple fact that we’ve gotten used to being paid 20 to 30% less than our male colleagues.
Once we get a handle on our true market value, however—what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller, gender notwithstanding—we can begin to have a conversation leading to agreement.
That’s all a negotiation is: a conversation between two or more people whose purpose is to agree to terms beneficial for all. The good news for women is that we love conversation. We’re also pretty fond of agreement. And because we hate the word “negotiation” so much, let’s just call it a conversation from here on out.
2. Start by Asking “Diagnostic Questions”
Any conversation aimed at creating an agreement starts most effectively when we ask the other person questions that will reveal his true needs, desires, fears, preferences, and priorities.
Professor Leigh Thompson at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University says that 93% of all negotiators fail to ask these “diagnostic questions” in circumstances where getting them answered would significantly improve the outcome of our negotiations.
So that means that just by starting the process with questions about what your bargaining partner wants—you’ve entered the realm of the super-skilled 7% of all negotiators!
3. Then, Offer Benefits
Once you know what your negotiation partner wants, you can offer to provide it to him before you ask for a single thing yourself. Remember Oliver, the orphan shamed for asking for another spoon of gruel? If Oliver had begun his negotiating strategy by offering rather than asking, he could have set into motion a chain of events that would have led to a better breakfast.
Imagine if Oliver had approached the headmistress with an offer to clean the dining hall and polish the flatware after breakfast. “I’d be able to include a shoe shine for both you and the headmaster if I only had a little additional gruel, and perhaps an egg for energy,” he’d say, smiling with his most ingratiating grin.
Perhaps Oliver wouldn’t have gotten everything he wanted that way, but he would have had a far greater chance of if he’d learned about conversations leading to agreement before holding up his bowl and asking for more.
4. Tit for Tat
You’ve tried all that and it hasn’t worked? I’m not surprised. I’ve had some pretty high-flying executive clients shamed for seeking a 20% raise. But I’ve also seen them walk through that shame, concluding their agreement-conversations with 30 to 40% increases in pay.
If you know how to play “tit for tat,” your negotiation partner will often feel shame for having allowed his temper to flare up at you for simply asking.
“I’m surprised that you’re angry,” one of my clients said to her negotiation partner after I’d taught her this strategy. “I assumed a law firm as prestigious as yours was paying market rates.” On another occasion, she used silence, which brought not only a quick apology, but an additional concession.
When you respond to insults with dignity, penalize your negotiation partner for his outburst with a proportional punishment, and quickly return to cooperation when he apologizes, you can turn your superior’s harrumph into your triumph in short order.
5. Next Steps
No one, of course, can expect to learn everything she needs to know to become a powerful asker by simply reading about negotiation theory in an article. It takes practice. And, of course, every situation is different.
And that’s why I’m kicking off this series. Starting now, I’ll provide guidance right here to help you get what you want—and what you deserve—out of negotiations. So try it out. If you see an opportunity—start the conversation and go negotiate. Send me your toughest questions as you go, and I’ll answer them right here, so that everyone else reading will benefit from your experience, too.
In that way, we’ll all begin to expect wage parity. And as we come to expect it, our employers and customers will come to expect us to ask for it.
And before we know it, the wage gap will recede so far into the distance that we’ll talk about it in the same way we laugh at how we once put up with those “Help Wanted: Women” and “Help Wanted: Men” classified ads.
So go ahead—ask me anything. And join me as the rubber of this new wave women’s movement is about to hit the corporate road.