How To Ask For What You Need at Work
Want to get what you need in relationships and at work? It’s as simple as asking. Yet, so many of us don’t ask for what we want.
A failure to ask is nothing new in human history. James in the Bible stated, “You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2
Better to Ask for What You Need Than Assume
It’s a common story in today’s workplace and in our relationships outside of work. Instead of asking for what we want, we assume. Somehow it feels safer to embrace our assumptions than overcome our fear of asking.
On the other hand, asking for what you need can make you feel like you’re being too direct. But if you want something badly enough, feel the fear and ask anyway.
Think Through How to Ask
To increase your chances of successfully getting what you want, it’s critical that you thoroughly think it through. This is especially true if what you’re asking for is important to you.
For example, do you want to pitch a promotion to your boss? Ask for more money? Propose working solely from home? To create a new position on your team?
For our purposes, let’s stick with one example: asking for a promotion.
Here are ten ways to prepare for and present a big ask at work:
- Consider what makes your ask important to you. What would a promotion do for you? What would be different if you were promoted? Perhaps you’re stagnating and need a new challenge.
Is the financial aspect the biggest attraction? The prestige?
Take time to clarify your intent.
What will it mean if you don’t get it? Then what will you do?
- Clarify your objective. What is the message you want to convey? Make it as clear as you can to yourself before trying to explain it to your boss.
- Visualize a successful outcome. Imagine you’re in the meeting. Visualize how you want to feel. Think of the positive response of your boss, the smile, the handshake after you’ve clearly communicated your ask and it was warmly received.
- Know your audience. Before you set up the meeting, remember who you’re speaking with. If they’re busy and hard to pin down, you’ll need to get to your point quickly. The same goes if they like to talk a lot.
- State how they could benefit. Think of all the angles and prepare for objections. Also, be sure to demonstrate your ability to see the big picture by looking at how a promotion could benefit them.
Will it take away some of their pressure? Will it meet a bigger corporate objective more quickly?
- Prepare and Practice. Treat this meeting as you would a major presentation in front of a large audience. You may not get many opportunities to pitch yourself, so make it count by being thoroughly prepared.
That means rehearsing your pitch out loud at least twice before you meet.
- Own it (pick place and time). This is your meeting, so think strategically. Accordingly, choose a situation and location that is to your advantage.
Will this be over coffee outside the office or will it be in your office or theirs. Would it be better to meet by Zoom?
- Keep it Professional. Keep your emotions in check and be ready to know how you will respond to a “no” or “not now.”
- Get a commitment or clear answer. If you get a “not now”, be prepared to ask when. Be clear from the first step of what you’ll accept.
Furthermore, If they want to kick the decision down the road, pick a reasonable date to meet again and get a commitment.
- Be persistent. If they made a commitment, hold them to it. You made this meeting happen, prepare to push for another.
Remember the time frame you gave yourself for your ask to be granted. What were you prepared to do if you didn’t get it? Will you intensify your job search? Leave and ramp up your side hustle?
If you’ve thought this through, the answer you get will be an indicator of what to do next. Stick with your goals.
Now, that wasn’t so hard! The next time you’re in assumption mode, take control of the situation. Just because you’re doing great work doesn’t mean a promotion will fall into your lap. When you advocate for yourself, you’re much more likely to be successful.
As the Stones once sang, “You can’t always get what you want” but…you just might find you get what you need. At the very least, you’ll know where you stand. So, what are you waiting for?
Brent Roy, PCC, CPLC, CMC, is a certified executive, career and personal development coach. I work with men and women who want to increase their confidence and boost their executive presence to prepare them for promotion or a new career. For more ways I can help, please reach out!