Do you find yourself in professional situations where you know what you want, but are not quite sure how to get it? Do you often have trouble finding the courage or the right words to ask for it? Does the thought of asking for what you want give you varying degrees of panic?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you’re not alone. Lots of people have a hard time with this, including me. The good news is that it is entirely possible to overcome these thoughts and feelings and achieve your goal with a high degree of professionalism and integrity.
My first job out of college didn’t offer insurance until after a 90-day probation period. I was young and close to broke and decided I was going to ask for a sign-on bonus for how much the insurance would cost me for that period. I was shaking in my boots when I asked. Would they think I was too pushy? Would they rescind my offer? If they did, would I be relegated to a rice and beans diet for all time? All of that and more raced through my mind as I mentally prepared myself for hours to pull the trigger.
And after all that hand wringing, they said yes.
All too often, we are afraid to ask for what we truly want. And most of the time, all that fear and anxiety is just in our minds. Even if it’s not, there are ways to take control of the situation.
Here are some concepts to remember when thinking about asserting yourself:
The worst they can say is no. Seriously, that’s it. If you ask yourself the worst case scenario, I’d venture to guess that’s it. (This assumes your request is within reason from the work and efforts you’ve put in thus far.)
You are in the driver’s seat. If you don’t hear the answer you want, you’ve got options. You can ask for what it will take to achieve that and continue working toward the goal. You can work collaboratively with your team to make it happen. You can make moves or you can find a role that better suits you. It’s your choice.
Employers recognize that assertive employees are valuable in the long run. Want to know what employees who ask for those increased responsibilities, that promotion or a raise also do? They go the extra mile, securing a big time contract due to their tenacity. Or they save the company loads of money because they negotiate and they ask for it.
There are ways to ask that preserve your integrity. A lot of times it’s not the content of your request, but how you ask.
- State what you want succinctly and clearly.
- Stop and listen for acknowledgment. You want to make sure they’ve heard you loud and clear. This means no run-ons!
- State your case for why you believe you’ve earned this.
- Stop and listen for feedback.
- If things don’t go down as you wanted them to, ask for clarification and what milestones you’d need to achieve to ultimately attain what you want.
- Stop and listen to the feedback.
Notice a pattern? It’s all about making it a conversation. No rambling. No monopolizing of the conversation because you’re nervous or just have to make that one last point. Make the other party feel they’re at the table with you and give them a chance to respond throughout.
-Jill Ozovek, Founder, Jill Ozovek Coaching