How I Learned To Ask For What I Want

September 5, 2019  |  
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asking for what you want at work

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I wasn’t taught to ask for what I want. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case for me. My mom was a sweet but submissive and demure woman who mostly told me to “be a good girl.” She did not teach me to be a nasty woman. She did not teach me to be a boss. She taught me to do what I was told, and to be pleasant. So, from a young age, my motto was, “Just don’t cause any trouble.” Naturally, that didn’t help me in my career. Only the troublemakers—those willing to kick up a fuss and perhaps make others a bit uncomfortable—get anything great done. So for a long time, I didn’t ask for what I wanted. In fact, while I looked around at others getting what I wanted (while I didn’t get it), I still just took comfort in the fact that at least I wasn’t annoying/aggressive/overly-assertive. But you know what? One day, that stopped providing me much consolation and I just wanted what I wanted. So I had to get comfortable with asking for it. Here are some shifts in perspective that helped me do that.

asking for what you want at work

Source: Nikada / Getty

I do my research

First I’d like to get one thing straight: I don’t just ask for every single thing that looks appealing to me. I make calculated, well researched asks. And part of the way I do that is by having a mentor. If an opportunity catches my attention, I ask my mentor—who is well beyond having already conquered that milestone and others—if I’m ready and if it would be appropriate for me to go after it. We all want to jump from level one to level 10, and don’t often realize we are trying to skip levels two through nine, and the tastemakers or authorities in our industry see that, and find it silly. You can often only ask for something once, so make sure you’re ready when you do.

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